No Time for A Novel in a Month? How About a Literary Journal Challenge?

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They’re “The best of the mysterious, elusive things,” they're “A gateway to discovering your next favorite writer,” they can be “frequently dull, pretentious, willfully obscure,” they're “Vital to the survival of modern literature” and they're “Not read enough.”

Or at least that’s what the editors of some literary journals said in our roundup of which magazines agents are reading for new talent today (in the November/December 2009 issue of Writer’s Digest).

How do you feel about literary journals?

I’m a fan. Moreover, as prompt addicts know, short stories can be great boot camps for longer works. Thus, because of a hectic November schedule, instead of taking part in excellent NaNoWriMo this year*, I’m going to spend November focusing on editing my unruly current work-in-progress, and attempting to write and place a story or two in some of my old favorite journals.

Anyone care to join me? I say we go for it, then in December we can compare notes, share a toast/cry on one other’s shoulders, and toss back and forth ideas for what makes successful short stories. I’ll also try to rope a literary journal editor for a Q&A in the middle of the month so we can tap into what goes through their minds when combing the slush pile.

I’ll bid you a good weekend with what is perhaps the eternal top advice on submitting to any publication, one featured in the lit journal article. As Anne McPeak, managing editor of A Public Space said, “Familiarize yourself with the magazine to make sure your work is a good fit. There’s a lot of great writing out there, but not all of it is right for us.” (That might prevent you from getting a "WTF?" back from an editor, as I once did in college.)

And if you’re on Facebook, I just started a Promptly feed, and am in dire need of a few digital friends. Check it out!

*If you are taking part in NaNoWriMo, check out founder Chris Baty’s top five survival tips, which we ran in our InkWell section last year.

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.

You try to snap a discrete photo—but it just doesn’t work out that way.


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