Sunday, January 21, 2007

Just a little unwell

This picture is brought to us by Bongo Vongo.

Check out his photos here, if you love great city shots: Seville, London, Germany, Andalucia. Fascinating!


A recent comment regarding writing for a particular made me think in general about reading and writing habits. Aside from resuming regular posting here, I have to start reading more.

I am the most unwell-read writerly sort I know, and I really don't understand why. I LOVE to read....I was the girl under the covers with a flashlight, nose in book on bus, the "I'll be there in just a minute, after I finish this chapter," girl. And maybe this is exactly why I don't seem to find time because I tend to read as though there is nothing else in the world I should be doing. Well, that's all over now, and a long way of getting around to the subject at hand.

Should we write for a given journal? I contend that we do anyway, subconciously, if not with forethought.

Yesterday, I ran across an essay by Alexander Chee, author of Edinburgh (another for my list - it contains dark subject matter, as does my work-in-progress - would love to see how he handles it). ANYWAY, he wrote an essay for Booksense, entitled "You Write What You Read," which was what Chee's instructor, Annie Dillard had told him. Whew! Got all that?

Chee talks about his eclectic mixture of reading material growing up, and mine was quite a hodgepodge combo too. (I was SOOOOO happy to see someone mention The Dark is Rising series; I'm always asking people about it to no avail! He's read it too!) Right now, my reading includes Oxford American, "The Adventures of Kavalier & Klay," and listening on audio to "Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA." What will come of that mixture!?

My point is this: if we read journals and enjoy stories from those particular mags, aren't we in essence assimilating with each read? Does it make us write a little more atuned to their needs - could we also be helping to develop that zine's taste inadvertantly?

At times, I know I've finished a piece and thought, this will be perfect for that journal....and lo and behold, it was. Maybe marketing our stories isn't the gambit it seems; perhaps, god-love-it, our little subconcious is preparing us the whole time.

have recently targeted something: Missouri Review says in their unofficial wish list for 2007 what they want (and I quote Evelyn Somers: "More smart, edgy comedy. This is my own personal wish because I like things that are funny and brain-teasing.")

So I'll test the theory here, and see if it's possible to write for a particular mag. I haven't been reading this magazine, but I think I often write what might be considered smart (ass) humor.

Sounds like a challenge to me.

Meanwhile, has anyone else done this? What's your success rate like when you target a particular zine?


Contest that looks interesting:

I know many writers now either working on novels, polishing up, and/or starting agents searches. Let's give this one a shot. Must be succinct! (700 characters, not even words! to build this pitch!)

Blind Submission contest


Special thanks to Matchbox Twenty and Rob Thomas - for singing "Unwell" and making it stick in my head.


K Cutter said...

Writing for a specific publication and reading while writing both fall under similiar categories of things that influence how you write. Inspiration, I like, but I try to avoid unnecessary influence and let my writing run free. Of course, when it comes to trying to get published, I usually start out with three or four strikes against me, as I've chosen not to write what refelcts the current trend in publishing.

I don't read while I'm writing, unless it is specifically a book that I think will help me (not just subconciously change my voice). Also, who has time to read AND write? I tend to read while I'm editing. I find it helps sort out nicks without changing the course of my story.

Oh, and Annie Dillard?! The very first book I had to read for college was written by her (title escapes me). Talk about 300 pages of snore! And she didn't even turn up to give the speech she was meant to, sent a friend in her place.

srr said...

I think that must be why I don't read as much as I "should" - I'm busy writing/trying to also - and it does muddle the brain!

I love the reading while editing program. Honestly, it seems that's what I'm doing (plus reading a lot while I'm trying to figure out where to sub).

That Annie Dillard story cracks me up. Confess again, I haven't read her - but snore? Guess I don't need to! Your hook has me - and I don't even care if it's targeted to YA!

Kristen Tsetsi said...

Shelly, I think you and I could compete for "least well-read writer."

srr said...

I'm trying to work on it, really!

srr said...

work on being a better reader, I mean. HA!

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