I’ve been subscribing to mslexia magazine for a few years now and since it is both a great stimulant to the writing process as well as an excellent source of reading recommendations and a directory of sorts, I thought I’d share a little about it.
Mostly I like it, because it doesn’t feel in any way elitist, this is a kind-hearted, generous resource, contributed to and read by ordinary women who like to write, including many who like me, don’t participate in this activity as a job, but manage to scribble away for a few hours each week – read this and you realise you are part of a large, like-minded community of women who believe in making the impossible possible.
It might be published in the United Kingdom, but it has a very international flavour and inclusive attitude, important when you live outside your country of birth and don’t write in the language of your country of residence and want to participate.
mslexia (ms = woman, lexia =words) is a quarterly publication with feature articles on some aspect of writing (and open to idea submissions), an interview with a published writer, featured short stories or poetry written to the issue theme, or winning entries from the regular competitions they run.
It was Issue 48 in Jan/Feb/Mar 2011 that introduced me to the writer Susan Hill, just as her short novel A Kind Man was being released and I’ve since read three more of her books.
In the latest edition there is a wonderful interview with Diana Athill, what an inspiring woman she is, winning the Costa biography award at 91 with her book Somewhere Towards the End and still writing from her North London residential retirement home. She says it how it is and cites Jean Rhys’ for teaching her this, she mines her own experiences for a story, and cautions against being cruel to others, “you can be ruthless about yourself, but not when writing about friends” – you can read an extract from the interview here.
Recently, they have been conducting mini-surveys of readers which are then incorporated into the lead articles and some of the smaller snippets of information found throughout the magazine. It is extremely readable, which I put down to the fact that there is a reasonable portion of bite-sized articles, such as letters, extracts from posts, emails, tweets, along with fun and short, contemporary submissions from writers under the headings of rants, raves, a week of tweets, monologue, pen portrait, how I keep going, four lines that rhyme, a poetry or book review. Something for everyone.
Each quarter there is a themed New Writing section, always an excellent writing prompt whether you are interested to submit or not, short narrative or story up to 2,200 words, prose or sometimes poetry, the successful entries appearing in a future edition. I have seen many women being published for the first time through these exercises.
There is an annual poetry and short story competition and in 2012 there was a children’s novel competition for unpublished women novelists.
In addition to all the wonderful information it lays at your fingertips, one of the things I love the most are the short bio’s of contributors, here is one from the 2009 poetry competition in which Pat Simmon’s touching poem ‘Jack discovers impermanence’ was a winner:
PAT SIMMONS, 64, was head of communications for ‘Send a Cow’, an African agricultural organisation, but has since retired. The conviction that whatever she writes will be rubbish stilts her creative progress, but an encouraging family keep her inspired and motivated. Finding writing by hand shackling, she works directly onto her laptop, a practice to which she wishes to dedicate more time. She was Blagdon’s 2005 Apple Wassail Queen – your guess is as good as ours – and on a trip to Rwanda was re-christened Munyanika: ‘As valuable as a cow.’
It is available online, but this is one publication that I like to have the physical magazine to read, there are so many gems and I return to back issues often. Oh and lets not forget the back page, always a delight to conclude with, ‘the bedside table‘, introduces an artist, author, intellectual or well-known personality who shares what’s currently on their nightstand, like gossip for book-lovers.
The next deadline of 18 March 2013 is for Issue 58: The Women’s Short Story Competition for stories up to 2,200 words on any topic. There are prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd and three other finalists will also be published in that issue of Mslexia. You don’t have to be a subscriber to enter, just a woman. Stories are accepted from any nationality and country.