Essay

8 Tips For New/Unpublished Writers

1. Learn to write stories of different lengths/mediums.

Don’t be tied down to every idea as a novel or a screenplay. Some ideas simply work better as flash fiction or as a poem. If you’re not diversifying your output, then you are limiting the impact of your stories.

2. Submit to the right magazines (at the right time).

Take the time to compile a list of magazines and what types of stories they publish. Read what they publish. You are wasting your time and the time of the editor if you are unfamiliar with what the magazine wants.

Make note of their submission periods so you can stay on top who is accepting what types of stories.

Always check to see when the latest issue or post went online, there are lots of defunct magazines that still say they are “open for submissions”.

3. Submit regularly.

Give yourself regular deadlines to have work completed and submitted for either publication or contests. In the end, if you aren’t satisfied with what you’ve done, you don’t have to send it in, but it gives you a goal and a date to complete your project by.

(Don’t pay to enter or for consideration unless you are extremely confident in your work)

4. Do your cover letter right.

Use the editor’s name, if you can find it.

Don’t use a form letter for submissions, even if the magazine uses one for rejections.

Keep your cover letter brief, don’t describe your work, just who you are and that you thought it would be a good fit for their magazine.

Keep your bio professional, it’s okay to express yourself, but don’t try to make a lot of jokes or seem quirky, it comes off as desperate.

Don’t list 1,000 credits, just your most recent/prestigious publications. If you have no credits, keep it simple: Lucy Gordon is a French-Canadian Poet. She currently lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband Thomas and their cat Judy. 

5. Don’t talk about writing, write.

It has been scientifically proven that talking about projects before they are completed gives one just enough satisfaction to feel like they do not need to complete the task. It’s better to share a finished product than an initial idea. Outside input too early in the creative process can muddle your vision and inhibit you from making something that’s truly your own.

6. Don’t be afraid to branch out.

Pursue your ridiculous ideas! 

In Wonderbook Jeff Vandermeer talks a lot about how important the imagination is in the writing process and emphasizes the importance of “creative play” or simply letting your mind go where it will. Indulge your fantasies and daydreams (and nightdreams for that matter) you never know what seemingly absurd idea will lead you to an amazing, original story.

7. Write everything down.

Make list of your ideas, interesting names you hear, locations, moods, scenes, if something in your daily life strikes you, then make a note of it because you will forget. 

Be organized, know where everything is. Don’t delete what you cut, set it aside for later use. Many times I’ve been inspired by seeing the scraps of two poems next to each other in my “cut document”.

8. Know the rules, so you can break them.

You’re going to do what you want anyway, but it helps to know what you’re pissing on and what you’re praising. Even if you want to write free form, non-rhyming poetry, it’s still helpful to learn about meter. If you never learn proper grammar, all your characters will sound casual and uniform.

Standard
Poetry

Color Into Noise

Up until the 1990s,
they let the peacocks
roam the grounds here,
temperamental as they were,
they would follow you
around the courtyard
and through the gardens.

The birds would
come and go
as they pleased,
flying between
the estate and
the nearby woods,
densely forested
though they were.

In the summer,
you could hear
them out there
most nights,
boys calling out
to the hens,
translating all that
vibrant color into noise.

Standard
Poetry

Secret Santa

I didn’t know for sure
until last Christmas Eve,
when earth and sky
shared the eerie twilight blues
and all the people seemed to glow
with rosy cheeks in
soft bright sweaters.

I was wearing
that tired black dress,
looking down at my children
and up to their father,
dressed up for the kids
as reward for being good.

They cheered
when they saw him,
Santa! Santa! Santa!

But maybe he is
too good of an actor
or not good enough,
because when I saw him
in that red costume
and white beard,
I realized what I was missing.

That night he was
a different man,
or at least
different enough
from the one I knew.

Here was a happy guy
the giving type
always kind
not afraid of a few drinks.

He was everything
my husband wasn’t.

And that was when I knew.

Standard
Poetry

The Winter Fox

I caught a fox inside my
house one morning,
his winter fur a flash
as he was running
down the wooden floors
and steps and past
the sleeping children,
’til he led me to a room
that I had long forgotten.

Under blankets,
wrapped in covers
where I laughed
with my brother
’til a knock came
from the back porch
like the second coming,
so the fox ran to the door
and he laughed as he answered.

And then we were both outside
in the cold, cold forest
the endless paths of winter
stretching out before us
and the fox is running free
on the ground and it’s snowing
and it don’t show signs of stopping
not until the morning
and I think that we can
make it if we just keep walking.

Yes, I know that we can make it
if we just keep walking.

Standard
Poetry

Zoo Dreams (2 of 2)

I don’t remember the wild,
but my mother does.

She won’t talk about
what happened to her herd,
but her left eye,
sightless and milky white
speaks of a cruel world
beyond these walls.

Home to her now means
not having to wander,
to destroy all the time,
or worry about her children
and she says,
that is worth the space.

Though recently,
she does mutter in her sleep,
about the graveyards of Asia…

They are calling out to her,
across oceans
and across instinct,
begging her
to finally come home.

Standard