History and the Future

Hi Writers,
In the October issue of Writer’s Digest, we featured an essay called “Literary Legends.” Phil Sexton, who recently wrote the book Legends of Literature, wrote this essay for us based on his experience of combing through the Writer’s Digest magazine archives—87 years worth.

Some of the treasures Sexton discovered on his journey: articles by
A.A. Milne, H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Isaac Asimov and Stephen
King. An announcement of the arrival of “hot, new writer” F. Scott
Fitzgerald. An interview with Ernest Hemingway that hadn’t seen the
light of day in 40 years. And on and on and on.

I loved reading this piece. Yes, I’m a literary geek so I get into this sort of ephemera.

But the weight of editing a magazine with this much of a legacy behind
it can be daunting. A magazine is, necessarily, in continuous
evolution. It has to be contemporary in order to appeal to the next
generation of readers. And balancing the legacy with the need to move
forward is always a challenge.

It’s kind of like living in a historic house. If you own an old house,
you soon realize the house doesn’t truly belong to you; it belongs to
the families who lived there before, the families you’ll pass it along
to, and to the community.

Taking care of a magazine during a tenure as editor is similar. You
have to honor it, care for it, and modernize it enough to move
gracefully into the future.

So community, tell me: How would you like to see Writer’s Digest move into the future? Let me know. I’m the caretaker and I’m paying attention.

Keep Writing,

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6 thoughts on “History and the Future

  1. Dennis Wenzel

    What comment can I give to the caretaker of this house (Writer’s Digest)?

    Open communication — I was taken by surprise when Writer’s Digest went from a monthly to 6 times a year publication. I wrote an e-mail to someone and got the "That’s the way it goes" attitude. I was assured that my subscription would be extended, which did happen. Let us know when things change.

    New Writers Stories — I like to read how new writers break into the business. We hear too many comments from the publishing world on how hard it is to get published, that when writers do we need to hear their stories.

    No articles the same in other Publications — Over the last two years, I have noticed the same article from the same writer in my other publications I read, that have appeared in their magazines the same month it was in Writer’s Digest. I have gotten the feeling as a writer, as editors must feel, when submissions are sent to more then one editor at a time.

    Still Writing,

  2. Maria Schneider

    Wow, that is a predicament. But glad to hear you’re writing is getting back on track. I don’t know of any reliable way to scan a typewritten document and get it into Microsoft Word, unfortunately. But you may find that going through your old manuscripts, weeding through them, picking up the ones that you still find engaging and typing them on your computer will get your writing going again.

    Just my advice, perhaps someone else has another opinion. I’d also recommend asking our helpful forumites at writersdigest.com/forum.
    All Best,

  3. Maureen Morchel

    Hi Maria,
    I truly feel Alice falling down the rabbit hole. I was really in a good writing stride back in 1994, then life pulled one of its sneak attacks on me and my writing was left by the wayside.
    Now I have the chance to resurrect manuscripts and get back into my words but technology has really passed me by. I have dozens of manuscripts that were printed out from a word processor/typewriter. It would take me more time than I have to re-type every manuscript. I have a new computer and a scanner, I have 2007 Word but I feel lost. I think I need some kind of software to enable me to edit the pages I will scan, is that correct? I keep asking people in computer stores but they all recommend something different. Any help available?
    Maureen Morchel (wishnmoon)

  4. Gabrielle

    Hi Maria,

    The more articles/essays by brand-new authors, the better! It’s encouraging to read about people who have broken into the book world (and good for the author’s PR!) I also wouldn’t mind seeing a few more pieces on YA– we’re a small genre, but mighty!

    Thanks for the blog, I love reading it.

  5. :Donna


    I tend to be nostalgic, so I’d like to see at least one article about encouraging the kind of quality of subject matter that was existent in the past (more wholesome), rather than the slipping and sliding further down the slope of more violent, gory, sexual and often immoral-type subject matter that’s so much more prevalent in contemporary writing. Other than that, I can’t think of what to suggest. I haven’t read the article yet, but most definitely will 🙂

    : Donna


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