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The Writer

The Writer April 2021

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Since 1887 The Writer has provided the motivation, writing techniques, expert tips and compelling author insights that turn good writing into great writing. We’ll help you become a better writer, find markets for your work, understand the business of writing, follow industry news and trends, reach your goals, and more!

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United States
Madavor Media, LLC
12 Issues

in this issue

3 min.
what the future holds

When the pandemic began, I dove into this magazine’s archives, desperate to see what my predecessors were publishing in the throes of the Spanish flu outbreak a century earlier. Unfortunately, every author in the volumes I found seems to write merrily about everything under the sun except a deadly global pandemic. I did find, however, Hazel Miller’s wickedly delicious piece on “What Editors Do” from the June 1920 issue. (“An editor, according to popular conception, is a person, male or female, who wields a wicked blue pencil, indulges in delightful tête-à-têtes with successful authors, and draws a fabulous salary for being a thorough-going tyrant and autocrat.”) She, too, doesn’t mention the outbreak, but she does reference another deadly global event that caught my eye: The first World War and its ending…

1 min.
this month on writermag.com

Got an unfinished manuscript? We can help. Whether you’re working on a novel, a short story, an essay, or a memoir, our critique service will help you identify where your draft sparkles and where it might need a bit more polishing. Submit a work of fiction or nonfiction in 4,000 words or less to receive an in-depth, detailed critique from a member of our editorial staff. Every critique will be roughly 400 words and contain professional feedback on what we loved about your work as well as what could use a little improvement. Submit your draft today at writermag.com/critique-service. Don’t miss our spring webinar! “From the Front Lines” columnist Yi Shun Lai will be teaching a live webinar in March on the art of finding your perfect title. Learn more and reserve your…

4 min.
dear editor

I miss rejection slips. Not that I enjoyed receiving those ignominious pre-printed slips of paper, but at least when my SASE came back, I was pretty sure an editor, or an assistant editor, or an assistant’s assistant, had put it in the envelope. There was a flesh-and-blood person at the other end of the line. And there was always the chance I might see a single handwritten sentence on the bottom, signed by the editor, indicating the piece almost made it or, joy of joys, she would like to see more of my work. When an editor at McCall’s wrote, “I’m afraid I have to say no on this particular piece, but try me again on another, would you?,” it was almost as exciting to me as if she had said,…

1 min.
deck the walls

CUSTOM BOOK STACK Choose your own literary adventure with this customizable wall art, allowing readers to pick six of their favorite titles to display in one of two color combinations. Starts at $35.99, etsy.com/shop/poppedcultureprints SPIN A NEW YARN Decorate your private library by taking inspiration from public ones, such as this woven library card wall hanging. $31.99, society6.com/gasstationburrito DICTIONARY REDUX Barnfeathers specializes in lovely artwork printed on recycled dictionary pages, with subjects ranging from detailed flora and fauna prints to vintage illustrations of women. $12.95, etsy.com/shop/barnfeathers JUDGE A WALL BY ITS COVER RedHill Studio offers several literary-inspired prints for bibliophiles to choose from, including Romeo and Juliet, Jane Eyre, and On the Road. $32.99, society6.com/redhillstudio WHAM! ZAP! KAPOW! Graphic novel fans can add some classic comic-style action to their reading room with this set of eight superhero-inspired wall decals. $45.99 for all eight, wayfair.com LOOK…

6 min.
read fat, write fat

Last September, my latest book came out. It’s very literally a small book – roughly 4x6 inches and 66 pages cover to cover. It takes 45 minutes to read. And yet, it is one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever published. It’s marketed as a memoir, and while there are a lot of reasons it was a worthwhile undertaking for me, I think the key reason I enjoyed it so much is that its length allowed me to explore. At a little over 9,000 words, Pin Ups is a long essay, a form you still see in a good number of magazines and newspapers and on websites. Now that I’ve been successful at it, I want to attempt more of these. And I wanted to share with you the reason…

7 min.
calming your comma calamities

WE LIVE IN A WORLD DIVIDED. From politics to sports to entertainment, we all agree on precious little. Even something as seemingly benign as declaring your love for your favorite movie, The Goonies, can spark a debate over capitalism, privacy laws, and ableism. It is exhausting, especially if you are someone who despairs conflict, to engage in these constant clashes. And so, during these bleak uncertain times, I’ve taken refuge in the one thing that offers certainty. I’ve turned to grammar. In grammar, there are rules. There are guidelines. There are precedents. There are even funny words like participle and gerund, if you prefer some lightheartedness mixed into the staid world of sentence diagramming. Most of all, there is order. Grammar is no fickle friend, unlike spelling, where i may come before e except…