I have been a shy poet all my life.
There are innumerable poems scribbled in the last pages of my notebooks and diaries that I keep locked, and on pages that pile up between my notes so that no one takes special notice of them. I never had the courage to get them out there and let people read it.
One fine day, I had the idea of making people read my work, but I did not want it to be limited to my immediate friend circle. They would not be very critical of my work. I wanted to reach a few more people who do not know me personally to judge my writings.
I was juggling between these two thoughts: Should I send my work or should I lock it up again? The idea of keeping it back in the closet danced in front of my eyes and I was nearly tempted to do that, but then I gathered all the courage and decided to send it.
I was clueless – Where to send it? What publication house would want to see one or two poems and a short story?
A few Google searches and I came across several literary magazines, online journals and then I thought to myself, what better way to reach the world than through a literary magazine?
Even after all that thought and decision-making drama, I was too afraid of the failure of the rejection. But I didn’t give in to my fears.
Failures caught me like a spider web but I did not stop. I sent in more stories, more poems, revised versions, edited pieces. There were revisions and finally came a third draft which secured a space in the magazine.
Seeing my poem in the magazine was such a high. I wanted to share the experience with everyone and so it led me to finally jot down the six benefits of a literary magazine for every writer, and reader.
1. Literary Magazines make the best debut.
The literary magazine became the space for opening, for sharing and most importantly, for having a readership.
A writer is first a reader, the primary reader of her own work and then of other people’s writings. I re-read my work, edited them. I felt that the more literature I read, the more freely my thoughts moved.
Every literature is inspired by some other literature. My writings too were influenced by my past readings. They are not mimetic of my readings but the essence of our reads does get impregnated in our minds.
2. A continuous reading habit
Literary magazines helped me develop a continuous reading habit with the issues making way to my mailboxes periodically.
It was then time for me to choose a genre of interest. I sure was writing poetry but I had been experimenting with short stories too. I took up the task of reading about all the genres and understanding them, reading about the intricacies of the same. I was just breaking my head over tedious reading which does not even interest me, which I shall not be able to use practically anywhere.
Reading a few magazines, I found my way through.
3. You get adventurous with genres.
By now I had sent more write-ups for publication, I was also attending seminars and conferences where I met other writers, some of them I knew by their writings from magazines and some were readers of them.
It soon developed into a kind of a literary community, ideas were exchanged, the writings interacted by being connected through common threads. It was like there was a mini-world amongst the already existing real world.
4. You become ambitious. And cautious.
I, as a reader, as a writer and other writers along with the magazine curators, developed a bond which held us together by our love for reading.
I was unstoppable by this time, I wanted to reach a level where I aspired to write a novel someday, but the best way to reach that level was by writing shorter pieces of fiction.
5. You grow new feathers.
It encouraged me to write, gave me the exposure and critical insights and this helped me create my own style of writing.
I was, by now, encouraged to write more, explore more topics, and play with themes. I felt I had to write about the current political debates, the contemporary social scenario and about things which were recent.
I too wanted my writing to reach out to people, telling them I care for the society, that I too can be sarcastic about some political decision and that I too have a critical understanding of how the reality gets transformed and reflected in writings.
6. You level up, a read a time.
The magazine was the most recent document for the contemporary trends in literature. It had all the influences from the real events of the outside world.
Like the grandmother, the literary magazine had stories to tell. It had seen the three generations of writers (the budding writers, the moderately expert and the avidly read). It developed a sense of healthy competition in me, an enthusiasm to write more every day.
All I had to do was move strategically. I had to read more and write more, get encouraged and inspired more in order to be able to become a good writer.
These pointers may not be same for all, but sure they do help.