The theme of the September 2018 issue of Writer’s Digestis “Writing Boldly.” Here, Editor-in-Chief Tyler Moss explains what that means for writers today.
I’m the sort of person who deadbolts the door of our apartment when taking the laundry down to the basement washing machine and prints out a map of the high ground when we go to the beach just in case a tsunami happens to hit. In high school, I was the guy nauseated by anxiety as others jumped off the second-story deck into a swimming pool. When I got a tattoo in college, I sat my mother down as if about to reveal a horrific medical diagnosis and solemnly passed her a folder containing a picture of the illustration … after spending months carefully considering the choice on my own.
There’s a natural tendency for scribes to seek control—to act with calculation. After all, our pastime of choice is to construct organized worlds from the chaos of ideas that cascade through our minds. But as I’ve learned firsthand, there’s something to be said for approaching your writing life with a little more audacity.
After graduate school in Chicago, my now-wife accepted a job offer and we moved to Cincinnati—not exactly a magazine-publishing mecca. Hungry for employment, I struggled to find work for months. I tried cold pitching publications, but without any clips to my name, I couldn’t land an assignment. As that frustration came to a boil, I vented those emotions into an essay about being a “stay-at-home boyfriend,” detailing my feelings of inadequacy, shame, resentment. It was more personal than anything I’d written before, and frankly, it was pretty damn embarrassing. On a whim, I submitted the full piece to a major venue. Not only did they purchase the essay, but to my surprise it went viral, provoking waves of reader comments. That essay opened the door to robust, regular freelancing opportunities—and ultimately landed me a position at the national niche publication Family Tree Magazine. Not even a decade later, I’m the editor-in-chief of Writer's Digest.
To be bold in your writing means something different to each of us, both on the page and in the world. Your daring act may be dramatic, like quitting your day job to pursue full-time freelancing. It may be something subtler, such as writing your first short story from a new POV. Perhaps it means experimenting with a despicable protagonist, exposing yourself through self-promotion or facing the fears responsible for your writer’s block head-on. In my case, it was opening myself up to the same vulnerability prescribed by Maria Walley in her piece “Bare Your Soul.”
Courageous writers are constantly challenging themselves in some way or another. With that idea in mind, we built the September 2018 Writer’s Digest around the theme Write Boldly: Taking Risks & Daring to Dream to push you outside of your comfort zone and into exciting new territory. As Newbery Honor–nominated author Jacqueline Woodson says in this month’s WD Interview: “I think every writer needs some bravery and boldness, and a little bit of a unicorn in them to make it.”
Writer’s Digest Editor-in-Chief
Check out our web exclusives from this issue:
- The WD Interview: Bestseller Jacqueline Woodson on Confronting Controversial Subjects & Writing Across Age Categories
- Risky Business: Taking Big Risks in Your Writing Career—and How They Can Pay Off
- Day Job Jumble Quiz: Can You Guess the Day Jobs of These Famous Authors?
- 3 Steps to Social Media Domination for Writers
- Debut Author Interview: Helen Hoang, Author of The Kiss Quotient
- On Writing and Skinny Dipping: The Importance of Writing Personal and Realistic Fiction