Literary journals are a great stepping stone towards a publication career for writers and continue to be valuable publication outlets for more established writers. Knowing that a discerning editor has deemed your work worthy is a great boost and writers can add them to their CVs with pride. But with a bewildering array of journals available, with varying degrees of prestige, how do you decide where to place your writing?
This can be particularly difficult for writers whose writing doesn’t fit into neat categories, or follow the conventions of their chosen writing form. Literary journals have a strict set of submission criteria and if you try to adapt your writing to meet those criteria, the integrity of your writing may be lost and you may actually damage your chance of being accepted.
Some literary journals are giving a home to writers whose work takes on unconventional forms. Here are three that I’ve come across on my travels.
This is an American magazine devoted to very short essays of 750 words or less and publishes well known and emerging writers. The essays are short memoir pieces that crystallise life experiences. The short form forces writers to choose their words carefully for maximum emotional effect. The journal offers a small payment to authors and takes submissions via Submittable.
This journal is devoted to another short form not often seen these days: the vignette. Originally, a vignette meant something that could be written on a vine leaf, and it’s quite a unique form in various ways. First of all, it’s not a traditional story, but more of a snapshot of a person or of the world around you, so it’s a good choice for writers who have pieces that are complete, but aren’t traditional stories. The magazine has submission windows throughout the year and you can submit pieces up to 800 words. This could be one relatively long piece or three or four short ones.
By contrast, Long Story, Short (the comma is deliberate, by the way) celebrates a much longer literary form: the long short story. Stories submitted to this Irish online journal must be at least 4,000 words long. The journal is also unique in that it only publishes one story each month, so that that story will shine. The idea is that a long short story gives authors time to tell a story more fully, without the demands of a novel. The journal has one reading period only.
What literary journals have you come across that defy form and genre, but still carry literary weight?