Over the years I’ve bought hundreds of literary journals. I try to read a couple every week. I’m always on the lookout for good stories, and for new ideas about how short stories can work. And in the back of my mind is the question: might this journal be a good fit for what I write?
But where to put them all? I read online literary journals too, but I don’t have to find a place to store those!
In the spring I started a major clean out. I took a batch of older issues to my local library for their book sale.
The librarian on duty that day took the bags with a grateful smile but came over to me a few minutes later as I was checking out the new arrivals shelves. “I’m sorry,” she said, holding out the bags of journals. “But I have to give these back to you. This sort of thing doesn’t sell at our book sales and I end up having to put them in the recycling. They’re too academic.”
“Academic?” I said, surprised. “But they’re full of stories and poems.”
I’m often surprised at the number of writers I meet in workshops and gatherings who don’t know about literary journals. After a recent workshop, participants were talking about the difficulties are of getting published. I asked what literary journals they’d submitted to and the response was “What kind of journals are you talking about?” and “Literary journals? What’s that?”
I took my bags of journals back home but I couldn’t bear to put them in the recycling. Literary journals have been kind to me and it seemed ungrateful to toss all these copies out.
What I decided to do is a stealth ‘Won’t You Read-A-Lit Journal?’ project!
As I move through my day, I leave lit journals in my wake. Coffee places. Bus seats. I haven’t decided about the metro because I’ve seen people sweep whatever is on a seat off it and onto the floor so would they notice it’s a journal? Doctor’s waiting room? Yes. Dentist’s waiting room? You bet. Blood test clinic, airport, bus shelters. Sometimes I stick a label on the journal saying: “Please read me.” Or: “Please take me home.”
So if you happen to see a literary journal lying on the table or bench beside you, please: have a little read! And enjoy!