Sunday, June 19, 2005

Writer’s Digest

from the diary: “March 19, 1985

“Just a bit ago I typed some poems for Writer’s Digest. I’ve been ODing on Market Listings. I got the latest issue of The Writer in the mail today.”

I think the subscription to The Writer was a (requested) gift from my mother. I was also receiving Coda (now called Poets & Writers Magazine) at about this time. I did not have a subscription to Writer's Digest. I'd flip through it at the library. I often had the feeling Writer's Digest was just shy of being a scam. Make money writing in your spare time! Be a travel writer -- make that school trip pay! The advice in the articles wasn't bad, but then advice to writers is pretty standard issue.

I was writing nearly every day. Poetry.

You can make a career in poetry. Sort of. Usually it’s teaching poetry. My mother was an elementary school teacher. Although I think she had many good ideas and I think I’d do a decent job teaching, teaching as a career is not one that calls to me.

Still, whatever career I could cobble together, I knew the first step was to get known and to get known one had to get published and to get published one had to do a lot of research into what magazines and (ultimately) book publishers liked the sort of thing you did. I also tried my hand at producing the sort of thing it looked like some of these places wanted. I was quickly disappointed by the results of that experiment. If I was going to be rejected anyway it might as well be for the work I liked doing.

Writer’s Digest was having contests for poems about writing poetry and I threw a few poems at them, poems that, it seemed to me, fit the theme and were good. It helped that they didn't charge an entry fee for the contests. So I didn’t have to pay to lose.

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