Culture & Literature
The Writer

The Writer May 2020

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!

United States
Madavor Media, LLC
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R 118,38
R 558,01
12 Issues

in this issue

3 min.
tidying up

Roll up your sleeves, scribes. This month we’re spring-cleaning our prose. We’re embracing revision, not dreading it. Our drafts are going to emerge from our linguistic boot camp leaner, cleaner, lighter, and swifter. We’re going to Marie Kondo our mansucripts. If a single word, a meager semicolon in our work doesn’t bring us joy, it’s getting the boot. And when we eject all the nonsense that’s weighing down our drafts, they’re going to sing so sweetly even the staunchest, grouchiest, Grinchiest of editors won’t be able to resist them. When I say nonsense, I mean it quite literally: We must scrub out the elements in our manuscripts that make no sense in the context of the story. If we are trying to get to an inciting incident quickly, it’s a bit absurd…

1 min.
this month on writermag.com

Our spring short story contest is here! Start penning your drafts, scribes: Our annual spring short story contest is now live. The grand prize is $1,000 and publication in a future issue of The Writer. You only have until June to enter, so now’s the time to start writing if you haven’t already. Find all the details at writermag.submittable.com. And the winner is… Literary awards season is in full swing. Want to know which books are up for the year’s top prizes? Join us on writermag.com/blog for all the news, from the Booker Prize to the Pulitzer to the Women’s Prize for Fiction. The best writing conferences in the U.S. Did you miss our February conference issue, where we announced the winners of our 2020 Best Writing Conferences in America Survey? Don’t fret: You can…

4 min.
the seat of my pants on the seat of my chair

“Posterior tibial tendinitis,” the doctor said, pointing to my sore ankle. Momentarily, I forgot about the pain in my foot. As a writer fascinated by words, I found this clinical-sounding diagnosis had a lyrical, rhythmic quality. I even enjoyed learning that posterior is from the Latin posterus, referring to the backside of things. My tendon that supported the arch of my foot, providing stability when walking, was inflamed. I gasped when the doctor announced, “Four to six weeks off your feet to let it heal.” Next, I was being fitted for a walking boot – a maze of eight Velcro straps from my toes to my knee. I couldn’t believe that for the past six months, I’d been playing rigorous tennis – my antidote to the sedentary writer’s life. Now I was strapped…

2 min.
pin up

1. The book was better This cat echoes what most of us are thinking every time a literary page-to-screen adaptation hits theaters. $10, ratherkeen.com 2. Change of plans Faced with an invitation you’d rather decline? This public-facing “Sorry, I’m booked” message might help. $10, ratherkeen.com 3. The handmaid’s flair Don’t let the bastardes grind you down. Wear this Margaret Atwood-inspired pin instead. $10, pugnaciouspins.com 4. Scary stories This pin is a perfect replica of Alvin Schwartz’s classic work of horror kidlit, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. $10, pattilapel.com 5. Ode to Angelou Celebrate Maya Angelou’s brilliant memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings with this gold-enameled pin. $11, idealbookshelf.com 6. Putting on Eyres This beautiful enamel pin is a nod to perhaps the most famous line in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre: “Reader, I married him.” $12, thecleverclove.com 7. Cultured critters This adorable set features a hedgehog,…

5 min.
unfamiliar waters

Let me tell you a short story. It’s about the time I worked with a writer on a story I loved for close to six months. We were on the phone together for multiple hours over this process; we were both happy with the results. And then, two days before our literary magazine went into production phase, right before we go to press, the writer decided to pull his story. I know, I know. When I saw his email, I went weak at the knees. I pretty much wanted to cry. On the phone with him, talking over his decision, my voice seemed pitched toward my boots; disappointment clogged my trachea. All the constructive editing, all the good conversations, wiped out. And yet, I could understand exactly why he had done…

5 min.
you never “make it”

For the last two years, I have worked on a book. When I sent the copy edited manuscript to my editor – the last step before the Word doc becomes an advance reader’s copy – I expected to feel something. Instead, I returned to my day gig copy editing blog posts for a major consumer magazine without so much as whoop or Michael Jordan-inspired fist pump. There’s a scene in the movie Parenthood when the patriarch (Jason Robards) describes being a father to his adult son (Steve Martin). “You never cross the goal line, spike the ball, and do your touchdown dance,” he says. “Never.” That’s as apt a description for writing as I’ve ever encountered as well as the mindset required for this job. I remember the first time I “made…