Ferlinghetti, King, Kerouac, Vonnegut, Hemingway: Coolest Issue of WD Mag Ever? (Plus Prompt)

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Admittedly, I’m not the world’s best pitchman. I try here and there, but my theory has always sort of been that if something rocks hard enough, people will find their own way to it.

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But this is different: I’m wild about the January issue of WD magazine (and not just because my livelihood is dependent on people, well, buying our magazines). The issue is shipping to subscribers as we speak (it hits newsstands Dec. 15), and we received our in-house copies yesterday. Not only is the entire magazine redesigned with a sleek facelift, but it’s also our 90th Anniversary edition.

-Exhibit of Awesomeness A: A full feature package about novel writing, from taming ideas to incorporating facts to adding some throttle to your plot to revising.

-EOA B: Editor Jessica Strawser’s 90 Secrets of Bestselling Authors feature, recapping WD advice from the last 90 years from Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, Kurt Vonnegut, Anne Lamott and 84 others. One of my personal favorite bits is this, from Anthony Burgess: “I’ll tell you a thing that will shock you. It will certainly shock the readers of Writer’s Digest. What I often do nowadays when I have to, say, describe a room, is to take a page of a dictionary, any page at all, and see if with the words suggested by that one page in the dictionary I can build up a room, build up a scene. … I even did it in a novel I wrote called MF. There’s a description of a hotel vestibule whose properties are derived from Page 167 in R.J. Wilkinson’s Malay-English Dictionary. Nobody has noticed. … As most things in life are arbitrary anyway, you’re not doing anything naughty, you’re really normally doing what nature does, you’re just making an entity out of the elements. I do recommend it to young writers.”

-EOA C: A column about low-residency MFA programs by Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab’s Wife.

-EOA D: A relaunch of our First Impressions column, deemed Breaking In and focused on how new authors scored their deals.

-EOA E: The magazine has shiny silver ink on the cover.

Finally, as perhaps my favorite EOA, I interviewed legendary poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti (appropriately, 90 years old) for the 90th anniversary edition of The WD Interview. One of my favorite moments from the chat:

WD: What do you think is the best way to pick up the art of writing?
Ferlinghetti: “If you’re going to be a writer you should sit down and write in the morning, and keep it up all day, every day. Charles Bukowski, no matter how drunk he got the night before or no matter how hungover he was, the next morning he was at his typewriter. Every morning. Holidays, too. He’d have a bottle of whiskey with him to wake up with, and that’s what he believed. That’s the way you became a writer: by writing. When you weren’t writing, you weren’t a writer.”

So, there you have it: My pitch for the new WD. In all honesty, I’m smitten (and not just because of the silver cover).

(And since I’m pitching: Subscribe here and save 58%! Looking at our editorial calendar, I can assure you there’s more awesomeness coming down the pike. Although it may not always feature silver spot gloss.)



Feel free to take the following prompt home or post your response (500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below. By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our occasional around-the-office swag drawings. From the January 2010 issue of the magazine:

“Please don’t. This isn’t going to work. I'm not qualified at all for this.”
“Sure you are.”
She doesn’t believe you, so with the crowd looking on, you prove your point.