Last year about this time, I wrote this essay as Entry #30 for my blog. It’s still relevant so here is a slightly updated version.
As we wrap up 2012, if you are a writer or have one in your life, perhaps you’re thinking about what might be useful to jump-start 2013. May I offer some suggestions?
Pens, writing calendars, and journals are happy things for most writers, even those who use laptops and e-readers on a daily basis, usually like to get them as gifts. Workshops or writing classes are pricey, but nice. But to keep it simple, how about a subscription to an interesting journal!
It is useful to know that good writers read as much as they write, and a subscription to an excellent magazine or journal would be a welcomed gift for most. The small press in this country is alive and well, but for many it remains a labor of love. Some struggle to survive; putting money into a subscription is another way to keep people working in 2013.
If you dislike advertising in your magazine and want to read evocative fiction, essays, poems and opinion pieces, and if you need to “hold” an actual magazine in your hands, consider, “The Sun.”
It’s not for everyone, but I find I sit down and read it cover-to-cover when it arrives each month, even when I meant to put it down and work. Or explore regional literary magazines. Most areas in this country have local journals that publish a range of interesting fiction, essays, poetry and photography. For example, in my local area (Maryland) we have The Little Patuxent Review, The Baltimore Review, The Delmarva Review, Poet Lore, and others.
Of course, you can select a general magazine like Harpers or The New Yorker, but why not try a less traveled road. Conduct a search in the Poets & Writers online – list of literary journals for ideas. Hundreds of literary journals are produced at colleges and universities around the country.
Among the many wonderful journals consider: Folio, Gettysburg Review, The Florida Review, Gulf Coast, Big Muddy, Sycamore Review, Iowa Review, New Letters, Roanoke Review, or numerous others. Or you might consider the appropriately named – Glimmer Train. Any of these will provide “a good read” all year long.
This year one of my favorites is One Story. It’s exactly what it sounds like. You get one really interesting story about every 3 weeks – of a single pocket-sized, portable story that is a sparkling gem. You can slip it in a pocket to read and reread while you’re waiting. And it’s lighter than a Kindle. It’s also a good introduction to new writers.
If writing tips are what you seek – consider the old standards like: Poets & Writers, The Writer, or Writer’s Digest.
Most writers will appreciate these gifts that give ideas and encouragement all year long. Also more and more magazines are available online and through e-books these days and some require a subscription so you could consider that too. If you’re a Kindle or Nook reader – some of these are available there.
Although I love my Kindle, I still read real paper as often as I can. There is something deeply satisfying about holding a book and flipping back to check on something I missed earlier. I just don’t get the same experience when I flip around on my touch screen. I guess that even though I tend to be an “early adopter” – I also remain “old school” and that’s okay for now.
Note: I will take a break and not post on this site on
December 25, 2012 or January 1, 2013.
Jan Bowman’s work has appeared in Roanoke Review, Big Muddy, Broadkill Review, Trajectory, Third Wednesday, Minimus, Buffalo Spree (97), Folio, The Potomac Review, Musings, Potato Eyes, and others. She won the 2011 Roanoke Review Prize for Fiction. Her stories have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best American Short Stories and a story was a finalist in the “So To Speak” Fiction Contest. She is working on two collections of short stories and currently shopping for a publisher for a completed story collection. She has nonfiction work pending publication in Spring 2013 Issues of Trajectory and Pen-in-Hand. She writes a weekly blog of “Reflections” on the writing life and posts regular interviews with writers and publishers. Learn more at: