Tuesday, 26 August 2008

U's and Z's and other crazy stuff

It is true I am not a fan of American spelling. Although I agree it has its place. Like America, for instance. Not in submissions to Australian journals.

Even worse than American spelling from an Australian writer in a submission to an Australian journal is a submission with half Australian spelling and half American spelling. Do writers not know or just not care? Sure, a stand alone 'z' could be treated as a typo, no worries. We all know software can change the little blighters. But not when the text is riddled with them.

As an editor, I change them all. Of course. And add the odd 'u' here and there as appropriate, although that seems to be less of an issue. I have no qualms about making these changes. Because I believe that, aside from thinking an Australian publication should be in Australian writing, any publication should have its house style, and hence consistent spelling. (This excludes intentionally misspelled words, which are part of the style of a particular piece and should remain as intended by the author.)

Not everybody agrees. I know people who think spelling choices, whether American vs Australian, or something like ice cream, ice-cream or icecream, are part of the writer's style and it doesn't matter if there are different versions within one publication (so long as each piece is consistent...presumably. We won't mention how many submissions come in with inconsistent spelling, even of the protagonist's name).

But what happens when it might be feasible that American spelling is part of the style of the particular piece? For example, in a story set in America. Obviously set in America. Or, when the submission is from an American? As a writer, I would do 'the right thing' and (cringe while I) changed my words to American spelling if I was submitting to an American publication, or at least expect the editor/s to make the changes. So, does an American writer expect the same, in reverse? Does the writer of the story set in America expect it? Does the story itself lose anything?

Does it even matter?

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Selecting content

Well, the content for page seventeen Issue 6 is almost decided, and given there were six people's opinions to consider, it all went very smoothly. More smoothly than I could have anticipated, for sure. Aside from my own poor adding, that is. Qualified to teach calculus, but unable to count to 180!

Not that it is necessarily a problem. Every issue, we hold a few pieces as stand-by in case there is extra space, so we're currently deciding which of those to include. It is almost impossible to know exactly how many pages each story will occupy in the issue, particularly those from the competition and/or the ones that come in via Aussie Post. Before the selection meeting, it comes down to educated guesswork as far as this goes. And, since then, we have also 'lost' a story as one of the authors has had it accepted elsewhere first. A 'new writer', which is fantastic news for him, having two journals want the same story at the same time.

A story I mentioned a while back, the one I loved so much I had to stop reading for the day, didn't seem to have the same effect on the rest of the editorial team. Well, it was generally agreed it was strong, and certainly one of the strongest, and was hence slotted in very early in the piece, but it wasn't the absolute favourite of anyone else. Another story, that I had considered average, and thought would only just make it in (or just miss out) was the favourite of two others. This is one of the aspects I find most interesting and is something all writers should keep in mind.

Without doubt, some of the stories and/or poems that go into each issue come down to a matter of the editorial team's personal taste. And I doubt this is restricted to page seventeen. There is always more than enough poetry and prose to fill the pages that is well written, or at least competently written, and hence, good enough to publish. So, it has to come down to something else. Even as far as competent writing goes, we didn't all agree, so it's also fair to say that different editors look for and/or notice different things. Just as one example to make the point, one or two stories that some loved were pointed out by others to have flaws like changes in point of view, or in tense, when they shouldn't have. And so, were dropped.

Then, the last two or so pieces to go in almost came down to popularity. Once we had a list of 'maybes' to choose from, the next bests to go in, flaws or no flaws, we just voted. So, if I wanted to preach, here's where I'd suggest writers check out the journals they are sending work off to, for style. (But we all know that some writers do, and most don't, regardless, so I won't bother.)

PS. Printer cartridge did arrive yesterday...yay.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Slow August

It would be fair to say that not much has been happening in my writing life lately. The ideas being jotted into journals are slow, if existent, and I have not been able to get to any of the many events on in Melbourne during this month. Nor will I get to the MWF, which is a massive disappointment, given there are several events that are definitely worth attendance. Including this one.

But I will have to get over it, as I am sure I will.

Meanwhile, I am still trying to send some of my work out, although this too is happening slowly. Even more slowly since I discovered, the fun way, that I needed a new printer cartridge. But I have my fingers crossed that I will have one in today's mail. To be honest though, this has caused more of an issue as far as sending out notifications to page seventeen contributors than it has been for my own personal use. But I remain confident that everyone will still be notified before the end of August. Well, except for those whose eemails have already bounced and those that will in the next week or so.

Bring on September.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Competition results

It's always exciting when the competition results come back from the judges. I love pulling out the relevant entry forms to see who has won and whose work will appear in the next issue. There are two things that stood out as exciting for me this year (I should point out that I am saying this before having finished reading the actual stories and poems...I'm sure some of them will be exciting in themselves).

One, from each of the poetry and short story shortlists, there are three new writers.

Two, some of the writers who made previous shortlists appear again. Not sure if this says something about their own consistency, or something about the judges and/or judging.

The shortlist will be available here in another week or so. I think it's fair to give the shortlisted entrants an opportunity to find out themselves first before telling the rest of the world, so if you haven't got an email, you'll have to wait just a little longer.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008


There's no such thing as a good time to get sick, of course, but I suspect now is probably the worst time that it could have happened to me. For various reasons. Not least of all that there is much editing work to be done for page seventeen. Much of which needs to be done before the end of August.

I am sure it will all work out just fine, as it always has in the past, but it does mean there's not a lot to say here, right now. Except that it's back to the steam bowl for me.