Growing up, my mom had a huge drawer full of cookbooks. I remember sitting there for hours, devouring the images and recipes those tattered, glossy pages tempted me to try. Like my mother, I’m a sucker for cookbooks and love testing new recipes.
“For every season, there is a flavour,” my mother may have once said, “And if there isn’t one, we’d darn well better find one!” (Haha! Okay, that last part is definitely me putting words into her mouth.) No matter what she may or may not have said, my mother has always been on the search for new recipes. I’m positive that growing up surrounded by a woman who loved to cook helped me expand my foodie horizons.
I can’t imagine my life without the rich world cookbooks opened up for me. We are what we eat.(—Or is it what we read, since we are reading cookbooks that give us ideas of what we should be eating…?)
Really, Rach. Lit Mags and Cookbooks?
Even for you, this is a stretch…
Stay with me here. They are similar in more ways than you could imagine.
Lit mags (literary magazines) are magazines that publish new writing from beginning, emerging and seasoned writers. Much like a cookbook that offers soup, salad, main course and/or dessert items, lit mags offer poetry, nonfiction, fiction and/or book reviews. And as with cookbooks, some of the writing in lit mags appeals to the general public while other writing is for more acquired tastes. I assume editors of lit mags are offering up a buffet of literature to taste. It never hurts to try something new—you never know what might appeal to you until you try it, right?
Most of us are used to cookbooks being in the kitchen, yet few of us have lit mags in the living room.
But I’m not a writer, so Why should I be reading lit mags?
I will keep my list down to five good reasons, but understand that I could go on and on.
- Lit mags are under-read, yet filled with a variety-pack of styles and genres that introduce readers to writing that’s a little out of the ordinary. Imagine showing up at your mother’s for Christmas and she’s replaced the Jell-O and fruit cocktail with this:
- Lit mags will introduce you to new writers. Why get stuck reading what they sell at Cost-Co or Wal-Mart? There is so much more to discover in the world than iceberg lettuce with shredded carrots and Thousand Island dressing. For example:
- Lit mags can help you get you out of your book rut. If you’re anything like me, you might find that a lot of books that are highly praised are a little lacklustre. Sometimes you need to add a little spice to your bookshelf. Who wants to eat meatloaf and macaroni with Cheez-Whiz every night. Instead try these meatless meatloaf recipes
- Buying lit mags help you support up-and-coming writers and artists. It’s sort of like going to see a local band when they’re playing in town instead of going to see Garth Brooks or buying brownies at the Farmer’s Market rather than from Sarah Lee. Here’s a recipe for Farmer’s Market brownies Mmmmmm
- People will open up a conversation when they see lit mags in your living room. Plus they look really pretty.
Why read lit mags if you want to be a writer
- Lit Mags introduce you what’s new and happening in the literary world. You’ll discover new ways of writing—and it will probably help you break out of the cookie cutter you’ve tried to force yourself into.
- Reading literary magazines will give you a good idea of where to send your own work, which will heighten your chances of getting chosen for publication. Every lit mag has preferences. You should know what kind of work the lit mag devours before you choose what to send them. (Oh, and don’t forget to study each magazine’s submission guidelines before you submit!)
- Support other emerging writers like yourself by subscribing to lit mags. Without subscription sales, there are no lit mags. Without lit mags, there would be nowhere to get published!
- Reading lit mags is a great way to get to know (and support) your competition. Check out their bios—where have they published? Use this information for your own gain!
- Most literary magazines offer a subscription with the cost of an entry–this will urge you to send work into writing contests. Basically, you’re killing two birds with one stone: first, you are being courageous enough to submit to a contest; second, you will have a years-worth of reading that will cover reasons 1-4 up above!
Happy Lit Mag Reading!
p.s. Your local library might carry a variety of lit mags if you want to check them out for free. Also, many lit mags are online and can be read for free.
Want to check out some of my CNF (creative nonfiction) writing while you’re at? Follow these links to free online lit mags!
Someday soon “Orange Soda Paradise” will appear in the University of Saskatchewan’s The Fieldstone Review