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Screen capture of Nick Ripatrazone's essay at The Millions

Nick Ripatrazone writes “On Getting Paid: Literary Magazines and Remuneration” over at The Millions. He doesn’t say very many new things about making a living as a writer, or about the struggles of a literary magazines and a larger system that is not financially sustainable, but there were a few choice quotes, especially in the comments. Allow me to be your summarizer and highlight what was awesome, in case you didn’t get a chance to read:

  • David Lynn (of The Kenyon Review): “Many authors today hold academic positions… promotion in the academy often depends on generating vitae with lists of publications that otherwise have earned them little beyond the price of a meal or two…”
  • From “John” in the comments: “Only on rare occasions do my individual poems ‘make’ money, and when they do, it’s usually $30-$60 that I receive 3-6 months after publication. In other words, it has little impact on my lifestyle, but a huge one on my confidence…One payment of $30 could help offset costs of printing paper, envelopes, and stamps. An additional $30 would buy me a printer ink cartridge. It sounds frivolous but these expenses add up. If 2-5 poems published a year brought in on the average of $50 a piece, I would probably use that money to fund book contest fees (which are high), thus the money would be recirculated within the industry…”
  • Comment from Roxane Gay (awesome contributor to HTMLGIANT, among other things): “Part of the problem is saturation. There are 2,800 literary magazines because there are too many people who want to be an editor instead of a member of an editorial team. There are too many people who think, ‘I have a literary vision that must be shared with the world,’ and not enough people who find ways to get involved with existing magazines…Magazines, even small ones, receive 8,000-15,000 or more submissions a year because writers would rather be published than subscribe to those same magazines. We have somehow spawned an environment where we equate publication rather than subscription with participation in literary culture because there are so many magazines and it is so easy to get published.
  • Nick Mamatas: “The comments about editorial imagination are spot on. People can huff all they like that editors do try—but clearly the overwhelming majority of them don’t. That’s why there are endless identical-looking print journals out there, often named _____ Review. The few exceptions: McSweeney’s, Black Clock, etc. look different, feel different, and have a different quality of reading experience. And they likely are more financially stable.
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Letterpress blocks arranged into a face shapeThere, I said it.

And I said more about it here, in a blog post I just ran over at LitDrift about a resurgence of interest in handmade books, books as art and the use of obsolete technologies like the letterpress.

Read it and rant in the comments, would ya?

I wrote a new post over at LitDrift.com about the Russian wildfires that are currently raging and their weird connection to poetry.

Here’s an excerpt:

Russia is on fire. The unprecedented heat wave in much of the Northern Hemisphere means that temperatures in and around Moscow this summer have reached record highs. On top of that, much of the Russian lands are covered in peat (due to natural vegetation but also bad Soviet agricultural practices) which is now lighting on fire along with the dried-out trees.

Voronezh, a city several hundred miles south of Moscow known for its fertile black earth, is now partially charred (see a photograph here).

Check out the rest of the post here!

UPDATE: I’ve added a link on this blog to all my recent LitDrift.com posts — look to the right where it says “Tanya’s Posts at LitDrift.com” for the links. Woohoo technology!  Thanks to JK Evanczuk for making that happen.

As a side note, I wanted to mention that I also blog regularly over at LitDrift.com, a wonderful new-ish literary blog.  It was started by the talented young fiction writer JK Evanczuk, and I joined about six months ago.  My most recent post takes on the institution of literary “classics” :

I’m about to start teaching creative writing and composition once a week to a group of 11th and 12th graders in Harlem.  Many of them will struggle with basic reading and writing comprehension, but my goal is to get them excited about telling their own stories, but also to respect the craft: to understand that editing is an important part of any artistic process, that attention to details helps the final product, and that constant practice (via writing and reading regularly) can only make their own creative and academic writing better.

So what kind of stuff do I want to encourage them to read in order to get excited about books and about writing their own stories?  My mind automatically goes to “the classics,” a list of books many of which I haven’t even read myself (cue the guilt).  But are these the best works to get them excited?

Check out the site (it’s pretty!) here and view all my posts here.