Wannabe a Writer by Jane Wenham-Jones is one of the best and more humorous books on writing I've read. My previous magazine, QWF, gets a few mentions and a lot of friends have contributed. I'm proud to say that QWF was the first magazine to publish one of Jane's stories. Even if you haven't read the book (and you should!), then please read the following and vote. Jane needs our support.
Wannabe a Writer? by Jane Wenham-Jones has been nominated for the People's Book Prize in the non-fiction section, for July. Each monthly winner goes forward to a grand final in 2010. Readers can vote for one book in each section at www.peoplesbookprize.com and voting for July closes at the end of August. You have to register first but it's only a name and an email address and then you'll be sent a password - to stop multiple voting, presumably. It only takes a minute or two and Jane will be immensely grateful for all support.
I need to crack on with choosing stories for Issue 3 of The Yellow Room and proofreading them ready for the typesetter. I sometimes think the most difficult part of an editor's job is choosing the stories which will feature in any given issue. It's also one of the most enjoyable parts of the job. So why is it difficult?
When I first read the stories that are submitted I'm not always conscious of the stories I already have on file. I judge a story on its own merits. I can't always remember the other stories I have on file anyway. Once I've accepted a story, it gets filed away. The hard copy goes into a plastic folder along with the others I've accepted, and the electronic copy goes into a file on the computer. When it gets close to publication time, I dig out the plastic folder and start to shuffle through the hard copies. I always look at the dates on the covering letters accompanying the stories first. I usually mutter, 'Oops', when I see that I accepted a particular story a year or more ago. 'That really needs to go in the next issue. I can't keep this writer waiting any longer to see their story in print.' Then, as I look through, I notice there are several stories which I accepted over twelve months ago. Then I have dilemma. If I published all these stories in chronological order according to the dates they were accepted for publication, then I wouldn't have a good mix of stories and the magazine wouldn't be the best it can be. Who do I let down yet again? This is the part of the job I don't like. I then start thinking along the lines of, maybe the magazine should come out quarterly. I think that's how I ended up publishing QWF bi-monthly and becoming overwhelmed in the process.
So, I guess the point I'm trying to make here is that if you're a writer whose story I accepted over twelve months ago and you still don't see your story in print in Issue 3, it's nothing personal. It could be that the half a dozen stories I accepted from May to August 2008 all had a similar theme. Believe me, it happens. Maybe I should be more discerning when I do the first read through and make sure I know the themes of the other stories I have on file? That's what a good editor should do, I guess. Maybe that's why editors like Gaynor Davies reject so many stories? Not because they're badly written, but because she already has so many similar stories on file.
Once a magazine starts to build a reputation and become more popular, then the more fussy an editor can afford to be and the more frequently he/she will send out rejections. Sad, but true.
I love our Kintyre holidays. I took so many photos this time and have posted them all on Facebook. Couldn't possibly choose the best ones to publish here on my blog.
Kintyre is probably one of the most relaxing places on earth. Wild, remote, beautiful deserted beaches, pale sand. Fantastic weather. A burst of heavy rain followed by a sunny evening with a stunning sunset. Long and winding farm tracks up in the hills, pine forests, trickling streams, stone bridges, the sea like a mill pond on a sunny day. Shabby Campbeltown with old-fashioned shops selling jars of sweets and homemade ice cream. Very friendly locals eager to stop and chat. Sheltered harbours with lots of boats, but no people. Wild fuchsia bushes, butterflies, lobster baskets, wooden huts selling fresh seafood, views of distant mountains on other islands... Gigha, Jura, Islay, Arran.
The sunset photo was taken from our apartment window.
I read four thick novels in a week and started a fifth. The best of the bunch was ex-QWF subscriber, Sarah Jackman's Never Stop Looking. One of the best novels I've read in a long time. It's about loss, loneliness, hope, renewal, relationships, the way we deceive ourselves and so much more.
Back to a lot of washing.... rain.... a funeral to attend tomorrow (came home to the news my aunt had died over a week ago) and lots of Yellow Room admin. I've now sold out of Issue 2. One of my tasks this week is to choose the stories which I'll publish in Issue 3, due out in October. I'm looking forward to that.
I'm going great guns with the novel. I spoke to a lovely ex-detective the day before I went on holiday. I'm beginning to realise that research can take you on a very interesting journey.