Writers - Have You Considered Sending Your Work Overseas?
By Tania Hershman
I set up ShortStops in November 2013 because the short story has a bit of an image problem around here, here being the UK & Ireland. The thing is, there is so much fantastic short story activity – but the other thing is, no-one knows about it. There was no one place where we could all jump up and down and celebrate! I was hoping someone else might do this first (since I should really be focussing on my own writing, sigh) but seemed as though it wasn't going to happen and so ShortStops was born.
It emerged from a list I'd been keeping for several years on my blog of literary magazines in the UK & Ireland that publish short stories. I started the list just for me and it has grown and grown and generated so much interest, I thought it deserved a site of its own, where each lit mag has its own page and can publish blog posts with calls for submissions, announcements of new issues etc... The second exciting strand is the live lit events, which for me are injecting new life into short stories – writers or actors reading, audiences loving being read to! So we have listings of those events too, each has its own page and organisers put up news on the blog. As well as these two, there is an ever-growing list of UK & Irish short story collection authors, and I hope to be adding info on publishers, writing workshops and more.
So, ShortStops has a local aim - to generate pride and community feeling around here about what is already going on short-story-wise – but there is also something else for all those of you who aren't UK- or Ireland-based. It is, I hope, an introduction to - and incentive to submit to - all the fantastic literary magazines (several hundred at last count) that we have over here, many of which I had never heard of 'til I started ShortStops. Several new magazines are added to our listings each month, each with its own unique character, needs and aesthetics, in print, online, audio and more.
As a writer, if you don't live in the UK & Ireland, why should you submit your stories so far away? It's an interesting question. I am originally from London but emigrated to Israel in 1994, and I was living there when I finally found my way back to short story writing, my first love. There were no writing workshops so I went to several in the US, and got my first short story education over there.
When I was finally ready to send my short stories out, I thought first of all the American lit mags I'd been introduced to and loved. I was quite surprised to find (this was a while ago, remember) that many of them weren't set up for overseas submissions – there was much faffing around with postal subs and self-addressed envelopes/postal orders – and when I queried to ask if I might send stories by email, they seemed surprised to hear from a non-American. Surprised and yet delighted to help – some even changed their submissions guidelines to accommodate me and any other non-US-based writers. I don't think many of these publications (especially the print magazines) had expected to be found by anyone outside the US, let alone get submissions from us.
Being published by American literary magazines has played an enormous part in my career as a writer. I don't feel particularly “English”, I don't see myself as a writer of any particular nationality (I am now an ex-ex-pat, back in the UK) and to find editors who “get” my work around the world is an enormous thrill and confidence boost for me personally. It shows me that writing has no borders, that good stories are good stories, that I don't need to write “like an American” for an American reader to connect with my work, just like as a reader I connect with American writers, Canadian writers, Australian writers, writers in translation etc...
Being published in magazines headquartered outside my home country brings these magazines and their wonderful content into my life as a reader too – it encourages me to look further, to expand my boundaries and find new favourite writers. Reading gives me permission to try new things in my own writing, and I want to learn from as many voices as I can.
Just like those American magazine editors in the early days who bent over backwards to help me submit to them without having to get hold of elusive postal orders, I imagine that most of the editors of the wonderful lit mags on ShortStops' list would be delighted to hear from you, read your stories, wherever you live or wherever you find yourself right now. Stop by the site, browse what we have to offer, start by reading what you can - don't forget the gorgeous print mags, as long as postage isn't prohibitive! - and see where your own work, whether it be short stories, poetry, non-fiction or undefinable word objects, might fit in. Come visit the UK & Ireland literarily, and then maybe when your work gets accepted by one of our publications, you might pop over and read it yourself at a launch event. We can't wait!
Tania Hershman is a 2014 Gladstone's Library Writer-in-Residence and judge of the 2014 Bridport Flash Fiction Prize. She is also co-writer and editor, with Courttia Newland, of t Writing Short Stories: A Writers & Artists Companion. Her second story collection, My Mother Was An Upright Piano: Fictions, was published in May 2012 by Tangent Books and contains fifty six very short fictions. Her first collection, The White Road and Other Stories, was commended by the judges of the 2009 Orange Award for New Writers. It contains a mix of flash fiction and short stories inspired by science. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Learn more at www.taniahershman.com.