Words by Helen Scheuerer, Founding Editor of Writer’s Edit
Today, the online space is brimming with literary magazines, writers’ advice sites and author blogs. We’re spoilt, or even, overwhelmed with choice. So, at a time of over-population in the market, why start a new lit mag? Why add another to your TBR list? Why read them at all?
Because! A good lit mag isn’t just more content for you to devour or trawl through. Even at its most basic level—it’s not merely just informative fiction, poetry, essays and advice for writers. Literary magazines, whether they’re online, digital or print, are a community—not just within their individual publications, but also as a collective. We’re a family. That’s certainly how it feels anyway.
Lit mags in general, are all about celebration—celebrating literature, celebrating our fellow writers’ successes, and even when the news is bad (arts funding cuts etc.), we’re celebrating our community spirit—and how we band together and support one another.
“Not another lit mag,” were the words someone said to me when I announced I was thinking of starting what would become Writer’s Edit. I hadn’t done enough research, they told me—the market was absolutely saturated. Why would I want to enter a space that was already so crowded? At the time, I was left speechless. Firstly, I hadn’t considered all these seemingly crucial factors. Secondly, now that I was considering them —I didn’t know the answers! I went ahead with it anyway, and it’s only in the recent months that I’ve realised why.
When I was studying creative writing at uni, it was never really made abundantly clear just how important being a part of a writing community really was. Or, maybe it was made clear, and I missed that lecture. Either way, I graduated and felt instantly lost—what now? Now that I was out of the classroom and out in the ‘real world’—where were all the writers? Those from my degree had scattered across the state, country, and the rest of the world, and although we kept in touch over Facebook, there wasn’t really one awesome space where we were connecting over writing, and publishing and everything that we were always so passionate about. The momentum had gone.
Though I wasn’t aware of it at the time, what I was looking for was an ‘in’—a publication, a community that would welcome emerging writers with open arms. It was an intimidating search. Everything was either super established or didn’t exude the kind of professionalism I was looking for in a publication platform.
I’m a big believer in creating your own opportunities, and so it was somewhere at this point where I decided to start a website for writers: one that would offer advice to newcomers, news about the industry as well as book reviews, author interviews and events coverage. I wanted to create a hub where everything I needed was in the one place, and where like-minded writers could connect, and have their work published.
Had this been done before? Most definitely. Did it matter? Not in the slightest. What mattered was that like all good lit mags, it offered opportunity. Opportunity for talking about literature and writing, the opportunity to make new friends, an opportunity to engage with what was going on in our industry and the opportunity to stay informed about all the changes. And most importantly, it provided a new space for young writers to get started.
If there’s something I’ve learnt from the abundance of lit mags out there, and from starting one myself, it’s that: every lit mag has something to offer. It may not always be what you expect, but anything that prompts you to think differently, or teaches you something new, is certainly worth it in my eyes.
Helen Scheuerer is a creative writer/novelist from Sydney, and the Founding Editor of Writer’s Edit. She has a Bachelor of Creative Arts from the University of Wollongong and a Masters in Publishing from The University of Sydney. With work published in the UK as well as Australia, Helen also freelances for a number of websites while she works on her own fiction and manages Writer’s Edit. She chronicles her writing process and current work over at HelenScheuerer.com
Funny, but when I started “Stringybark Stories” I was told all the same things. “There are too many short story awards already. Why another one?” “What do you have to offer?” “Why are you different?” I didn’t have the answers but did it anyway and have found that over time what you think you started evolves and changes with the community you create. In the end you find a niche and what people claim was a crowded space isn’t as crowded as first thought. Congratulations and all the best of luck with ‘Writers Edit’. There is always space for one more writers’ community.