I think that all writers would agree that we do it – writing – purely because we love it, and also, perhaps, because we are a little bit obsessed by it!
However, it’s always an added bonus to get a bit of recognition:
It’s wonderful when someone tells you that they have enjoyed reading the words you have written; it’s fabulous when you find a new review of one of your books, or read an encouraging comment on a writing or social forum… but what especially floats our/my boat is when you/I receive the email that says,
‘We would love to publish your work.’
It doesn’t happen that often, but, like the old bus cliché, I recently had three concurrent publication conversations.
The first was with Rebecca, the editor of The Caterpillar. This is a wonderful magazine for children full of poetry, stories and art.
John Hegley chose The Caterpillar as one of his ‘top ten poetry books’, and many, many big names have been published in it.
The first time I submitted a batch of children’s poems to Will (the other editor) and Rebecca, they weren’t the ‘right fit’, but, encouragingly, they asked me to submit again. By return email, I sent a batch of poems which were different in tone from the first, and they chose ‘Wind’ to be published in the Winter edition. (See earlier blog post)
Imagine my surprise when Rebecca contacted me again recently to ask if they could use another from the selection I had sent to be included in the Spring edition.
‘Marmite’ has just been published.
A few weeks back, Maverick publishers had put out a call for picture book submissions. This is an area I have never really considered, but I thought I’d send a couple of ‘story poems’, anyway. In all honesty, I expected to hear nothing. Then I received a totally unexpected email:
‘I especially enjoyed reading Turning Up The Heat as I felt your tone, rhyme and humour were all very strong. I love the idea of a dragon who is afraid of fire and I believe the story would lend itself well to illustrations. My only qualm was the end – at the moment it feels very sudden and rushed. It did not give Smoky his moment to shine as a hero and lacked the jubilation of Smoky saving the day, as well as his fear being accepted by the surrounding characters. You are under the word count at the moment so don’t be afraid to expand the ending a bit more to give your story that rounded finish. If you choose to have another look at Turning Up The Heat then I would definitely be interested in seeing a new draft.’
They also gave me an email address to jump the queue…
Well, I reworked the ending and re-sent the poem. It was taken to an editorial meeting, and while they loved the new ending, the outcome was that having a character with a quirk which becomes an asset is a little too predictable. Out of 4000 yearly submissions, they only publish 15… but it was very exciting to be considered.
Coinciding with both of these was another invitation to have a poem published by Popshot Magazine. They had asked for poems written for the theme ‘Future’. This is what Jacob, the editor, wrote:
‘After extensively whittling down the shortlist over the last week, it gives me great pleasure to let you know that your poem — To the unborn — has been chosen for publication in our forthcoming ‘Future’ issue. Thanks so much for sending it in for consideration; it’s an absolute beauty of a piece and we can’t wait to immortalise it in print.‘
My poem is to appear shortly. It has been slightly tweaked from the original which involved a couple of emails to and from Jacob with alterations. Again, I was thrilled to be involved with such a prestigious magazine. Here’s what it’s about:
‘In June 2008, the idea for a poetry & illustration magazine materialised as a result of picking through the literary shelves of the now deceased Borders. There was a feeling that the world of poetry was driving itself into an elitest and fusty no-through road, and we wanted to do something about it. Combining illustration with poetry in a neat and beautifully designed format, in April 2009 the first issue of Popshot launched, thumping its chest and quoting Adrian Mitchell’s ‘Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people’. With black pages, a sans serif typeface, and filled with vibrant illustration work, the magazine didn’t look like a poetry magazine and we were thrilled with it.
Some favourable press swiftly followed with the magazine being picked up by Dazed & Confused, placed on The Observer’s Cool List and named as one of ‘the fresh breed of literary magazines’ by The Independent. Shortly afterwards, Prospect named Popshot as ‘the new face of British poetry’ after it became the first British poetry magazine to achieve major international distribution into 18 countries. With the launch of Issue 7, we started talking about the introduction of short stories and flash fiction into the magazine, as well as poetry. In October 2012, with the arrival of our eighth issue, Popshot relaunched as ‘The Illustrated Magazine of New Writing’ firmly positioning itself as a literary magazine that champions new writing across the globe.
In the years since, that positioning has developed into a strong reputation for quality writing, with Dazed & Confused calling the magazine “a who isn’t yet who of contemporary literature” and The List claiming that “Popshot looks for the best and finds it.”’
For more information about submissions and competitions, you may like to have a look at my ‘other blog‘:
I also have two websites which may be of interest: