Although the results are limited by the few numbers taking the poll, I was heartened to see that the highest percentage was for people who subscribe to at least one journal. But when you add rarely and never together, you get the same score.
So why don’t more of us read lit mags? And I put myself in that category because I haven’t been consistent. More often than not, I would skim a new magazine and end up not reading it because I turned to a book instead.
Now that I’ve been reading literary journals again, I feel so energized, enthused, and educated. I think my writing will be better for reading them. So I plan to continue.
How about you?
Photo by Marisha
Next Thursday: I (sort of) review an iconic memoir.
Lately I’ve been reading shorter memoir pieces in back issues of literary journals, rather than book-length memoirs. I’ve noticed a few things by reading stories in journals:
I don’t know what I’m going to get ahead of time. These pieces are usually listed until the category of “nonfiction.” A story might be a memoir, but it also might be a political essay or a lyrical essay. I’m more likely to find an experimental piece than if I read a book. Whether that matters or not is another issue. But I have long suspected that the reason we have “genres” is that we know how to “take” something when we read it.
The piece is more likely to have some contemporary slant to it than if it were part of a book. These essays tend to be more “timely,” but sometimes that feels like a magazine trying to be trendy.
I don’t become as obsessed with any of these short stories as I do when I read a book. I am less invested. Are the writers less invested, too? Nevertheless, some of the short pieces are thrilling in their brilliance.
I am exposed to a wider range of thoughts and emotions by reading a variety of essays by a variety of writers.
By reading many writing styles, I learn more about writing at the sentence and paragraph level. By reading books, I learn more about structure.
I can read one short piece at each sitting, so I feel as if I’ve accomplished something.
BUT I am not drawn back to the story as I am when I have to take a reading break during a book.
I can learn a lot about where to submit stories by reading the journals.
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