What editors want and look for in writingOf paramount importance in writing if you want your work published: the subject matter needs originality and needs to get past certain tired subjects...
If anything, the market for short stories is tinier than for poetry, which means it is truly microscopic. Yet that mote does nothing to dissuade writers who bombard me, as an editor, with wonderful stories. I probably receive two or three new stories every week. So what is it that persuades writers to bash out short stories when the prospect of fame and fortune is, really, pretty remote? I like to think that these writers are the great purists who write for "love", who are compelled, obsessed and addicted to the written word. They write in notepads, the back of envelopes, in exercise books, serviettes, Apple Macs (of course), down-market PCs, iPads, mobile phones and even toilet doors. They are not reasonable people!
And Africa, O Beloved! - what richness here: mountains of stories, great forests, deserts, lakes, rivers of stories. Stories worked from the raw rock, gems of stories, golden stories. Stories carved, stories cast in iron, stories battered on the anvil of legend and myth, lost stories, stories found in the nets of fishermen, stories heard round the fireside, in the deep night, in the silence of the grave. Stories that weep, that mourn, stories that steal, steal your heart, stories that kiss your lips, that touch the stars. These stories of Africa.
I always loved reading to my children; I'm looking forward to my grandchildren's eyes, the little finger pointing to the page. We start there, don't we, with short stories: all the world is fresh and new, the dew is cool and the grass green. But when I became a man I put away childish things, for now we see through a glass darkly: now I need variations on the ancient story. I need spin, revitalised perspective, experiments with voice and tense. I need you to engage with confidence and confide in me, to show me the unique in you so that I too resonate with your music, your song. So that I can sing along, that the child in me feels your embrace.
by Hugh Hodge editor of New Contrast The South African Literary Journal
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