I've been speaking to people - and not just on Twitter, either. Real world people that you can touch, and be asked to step away from, because apparently they don't like to be touched...
Anyway, the reason I've been speaking to them is regarding the Magazine. And I recall recently when I was speaking to a lecturer of Creative Writing, and though she showed some enthusiasm regarding Grindstone in general, her attitude towards the magazine was somewhat sceptical. Now, I don't blame her, because honestly, she had a real point, founded from experience. So, in that regard, it was perfectly valid. However, I had to explain something to her, and because I had to do that, I feel that it's likely that explaining it to you guys as well will be really beneficial.
She said, 'You guys are running a Lit Mag? Sounds cool.'
'Yeah, it is cool,' I replied. 'It's going to be amazing - filled with awesome writers and pieces of work that deserve recognition. Do you want me to let you know when it comes out?'
'Nah.' She shook her head. 'I find them all a little boring, to be honest. They're all the same - they all say that the work in there is amazing, but if everything's amazing, then nothing is - I just find them all a little one dimensional. Whether it's because the pieces aren't to my taste, or I just don't see what the curators see, I don't know - they just never live up to expectations. And, while I've got a shelf full of books at home I'm dying to read, by authors I look up to, it seems almost a waste of time to just read a collection of short fiction from unpublished authors. I have to do enough of that with marking and feedback for the students.'
And, I admit, I was a little dumbfounded, though, honestly - not surprised. Reading the work of new writers can sometimes be difficult. If something doesn't resonate for you, or isn't written in an engaging way, it can be slow going at times. That isn't to say it isn't rewarding in its own way, especially when you get to really dig your teeth into something, give constructive feedback and watch as that writer grows and develops - that's worth it all.
But, I know what she meant in terms of the content of a lot of magazines and anthologies. They're just collections of work that are left to speak and fend for themselves without any context or backing (a lot of the time - I'm not saying all of them). And, especially if you're reading things that you perhaps don't like (or, as someone who submitted and didn't get in, don't think are better than your writing, despite them getting published ahead of you) or get to choose, it may seem fruitless to buy it at all.
So, why then should you by ours? What's the point? It's great for the people who are published - but why would I rub salt in my own wound by buying a magazine that features writers that were picked over of me? And this is where we pick the dialogue back up with that lecturer.
'There are lots of reasons to buy our mag,' I say, realising that, although we have actually discussed in detail internally why it's going to be worthwhile to writers, we haven't really shared one of the major facets of what makes our magazine different. And that's an exploration of the writing we feature.
Each piece that we choose to be published will be a feature in itself. We're going to find pieces that we love, and we're going to get in touch with the Authors and ask for a couple of things - their story, their idea, their goal, their inspiration. What did they try to do, and how did they try to do it?
And then, we're going to write our own critiques. We're going to look at what works, and why. At how writers create the resonances and impacts that pass us by without careful inspection. We're not just going to showcase work and tell you it's good. We're going to scratch away the surface, and excavate the writing to highlight why it works, and how you can use the same methods and nuances in your craft. How you can emulate and use their skills and craft to benefit your own writing. We're going to teach you how to learn from those writers that we think do things well. Published or not, professionals or not - sometimes, there's just pure gold in pieces, and we intend to expose that to our readers so they too can elevate themselves. That's what we're intent on doing, and that's why every writer will benefit from reading it.
Often, it's difficult to see the things in writing that are so effective. We feel them and we know that something's good, but here at Grindstone, we're taking it upon ourselves to highlight the exact ways that they are good to you, so you can take that knowledge, and apply it in your own craft.
And the lecturer stood, and thought for a moment, and then said, 'I think that's actually a really great idea. There's so much "good" writing out there that really doesn't feel that "good". Someone, somewhere has decided that is it, and we're all to believe it, even if we don't see it. Adding those insights will really help writers not only improve their writing, but also to help their critical eye - so that when they go and read their own favourite authors now, they'll be able to pick those things out more easily.' She nodded slowly. 'Let me know when it comes out.'
And I will. And hopefully, she'll recommend it to her students, and colleagues. And hopefully, it'll garner a following. And so it should, because we're busting our asses over here to make it awesome just for you.
We're publishing and exploring work firstly, but we're also making it something from which writers can learn things outside of the craft, too. We're going to have interviews and industry insights - things that'll help you write quality pitches and synopses. We're going to offer up data and stats from the year gone. We're going to look at publishers and agents, at who they've picked up, and what's selling. We're going to explore alternative publishing routes and ask if they're the right thing to do for you, or the wrong thing. We're going to put everything under the microscope and really push this sort of content beyond the level it currently sits at. There'll be no standard interviews - everything will be bespoke, and searching. Everything will offer something new in a way that's not been done before. Subjects yet unbroached will be pulled apart at the seams.
If you're a writer, and you're serious about this thing, then our magazine, and our anthologies are the sort of non-fiction you want to be reading. We've got an awesome team of writers and editors over here that we're always expanding, and they're doing the work that no one else is. We're putting them on things that haven't been analysed before, and it's going to open up a whole new level for improvement and success.
Grindstone are proud to be different, we're be proud to have you as part of our community, and we hope that you, too, are proud to be here.
Thanks for reading, guys, and for your continued support.
Oh, and did we mention that the magazine is actually going to be insanely cheap to buy, too? There'll be no one excluded from this. Whether you're well off, or just getting by, it'll be there for the having in both digital and physical format - for just enough to cover our production and distribution costs. We'd love to give it away for free, but growing as we are, we just can't. Still - you can help. Spread the word, be our advocates and ambassadors. Help us get it into local libraries and schools, universities and colleges. You can be as big a part of Grindstone as you want to be. Help us help authors everywhere - even if it's just by liking and retweeting our Tweets, sharing our Facebook posts, or telling a friend about us. The larger a following we can amass, the better and cheaper we can make our services.
Grindstone's going to be great, and you can help.
Thanks again, and as always, keep on writing!
PS. If you'd like to get in touch to help us spread the word and help distribute the magazine, then let us know and let's do something together.