In case you haven’t heard of it, Pitch, Bitch! is a brilliant new initiative that encourages young female writers to pitch their work for publication.
It was established as a community for female writers who may feel inadequate about their writing prowess, in comparison to male peers who, anecdotally at least, aren’t as discouraged by rejection. The first Wednesday of every month has been designated Pitch, Bitch day, and those who participate can use the #pitchbitch hashtag on Twitter to post about their achievements.
The great thing about the Pitch, Bitch! Tumblr is that it’s a stellar resource for all fledgling freelancers, not just those of the female persuasion. It’s full of interviews with editors, successful pitch examples and advice articles about how not to pitch and how to respond to criticism.
With all that on hand, it can still be hard to know where to send your pitch, particularly when you want to get paid and there are so many not-for-profit and volunteer-based publications out there. Who Pays Writers in Australia? is a good place to start – writers anonymously post pay rates for popular commercial websites and print publications, and there are notes of caution about late payers and tricksy organisations, so you can tread in knowing what to expect. It’s a few years old but the Emerging Writers’ Festival also has a list of pay rates for various magazines and websites.
In honour of tomorrow’s #pitchbitch day, we’ve put together a list of publications that do pay, and a breakdown of the subjects they are interested in (some were hard to pigeonhole, so they’ve been slotted into several categories).
During my studies, I always found that I learned best in a classroom situation if I kept my hands busy, sketching, doodling, and drawing caricatures or geometric patterns. I was always in trouble for filling my schoolbooks with (not very good) pictures, though I maintain that the practice was an essential part of the learning process, as if I was encoding the teacher’s verbal information in visual patterns that only I would understand. Drawing was a way of ordering information in my mind. Later, when I started writing, I found myself doodling once again. At first I thought its function was merely procrastination, but then I reflected more closely, and realised that drawing has a kind of meditative function that is central to the practice of writing.
When I start a story, I start with fragments: characters, plot arcs, images, settings, moods. In general, these disconnected pieces float around somewhere in the subconscious, bouncing off each other, sometimes finding edges that fit together. Some people might map the thing out, or create some kind of grand schema, but I find the act of drawing equally productive. Something about the act of visual concentration, the slow and meditative mode of creation, seems to allow those fragments to join up below the surface, eventually emerging as a solved jigsaw (or at least one whose edge pieces have been sorted).
And perhaps there’s something to it. After all, there are many writers in history who have been engaged in the visual arts to some degree or another – from the clip-art style marginalia of Franz Kafka to the (surprisingly) vibrant impressionism of Sylvia Plath.
Perhaps the most complete record of this little known practice is Donald Friedman’s wonderful book, The Writers Brush, which collects hundreds of examples: from D.H. Lawrence’s well-known paintings to Henry Miller’s watercolours; from the unique modernism of the beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti to Kurt Vonnegut’s very collectable screen prints.
The great lesson of The Writers Brush, is that creativity is rarely a beast that can be contained in one channel, or communicated across one medium. If you find yourself struggling to piece together the fragments of a story, try turning your hand to drawing – even if you’re terrible at it. My instinct has always told me that the benefits a writer can derive from the art of doodling have very little correlation to the visual result. This theory is somewhat confirmed by those writers collected in The Writers Brush whose artwork is objectively terrible, but whose writing is nonetheless inspired (Marcel Proust and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, I’m looking at you).
So, next time you’re blocked – try doodling. Lose yourself in the totally mechanical process of connecting lines, and you might find, on the other side of the exercise, some unexpected narrative connections emerging too.
Poetics of power: Wringing creativity from time and space
- @ the Zine Lounge, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House
- Free event after museum entry
- Bookings essential; by Friday 13 June 2014
A workshop for practitioners, including ziners, writers and artists on using historic places as creative spaces. The workshop will explore the connections between visual, atmospheric and archival modes of experiencing and recording history, including a collaborative poetry experience.
Mitchell will also speak about Poetics of power: Poetry in history and history in poetry on 14 June, and as part of the Australian Prime Ministers Centre Seminar on 13 June, read more information on the website.
18 King George Terrace, Parkes, ACT | Open daily: 9am–5pm | Website: www.moadoph.gov.au | Phone: 02 6270 8222
I am a writer; however, I am also a library technician – thus my love for Mesopotamia is passionate and filled with undying thanks. If it wasn’t for this great Ancient World or the Library of Alexandria I fear I would be lost for words, pun intended.
Today, Mesopotamia is an area of land that makes up Iraq, Kuwait, north-eastern Syria and a little of Turkey and Iran. According to records, it is believed that writing began circa 3500BC because the Sumerian people wanted a record of the transactions made between traders. These writings were called ‘cuneiform’, which means wedged-shaped, and were done by pressing a water reed called a stylus into the wet clay before it was left in the sun to dry.
The writings started off as pictures and throughout the generations, as writing became more advanced, the pictures slowly formed into symbols. The symbols would combine together to make words of places and names. Over time, 1500 signs morphed into 600 and were rearranged to create words that were easier to say.
There is not just one birthplace of writing, although Mesopotamia was the earliest example. Different civilisations started their own versions during different time periods.
The May edition of Ricochet Magazine is now available for download on our literary journal page.
The May edition features…
The Faraway Nearby (review) by Nick Gadd
Questions of Travel (review) by Victoria Nugent
Green Bench, Blue Church by Laura McPhee-Browne
Baby My Baby by Alexandra Scale
Small Claims by Kate Robin-White
TOUR LE MONDE (Degustation Menu) by Sasha Shtargot
Before School by Amber Dique-Bellette
The Least Spiritual Animal by Steve Brightman
Unusual Shapes by Steve Brightman
Take me Swimming by Natalie Harman
Blue Poles by Anthony Myraid
A Good Deed Has Its Own Reward by Annette Siketa
Disaster Song by Gregory Crosby
Fast Song by Gregory Crosby
[She] by Hannah Forrest
Sanctuary by Sarah Marchant
Two Oaks by Jocelyn Richardson
The Snow by Tyler Tsay
A Practical Bone by Laura McPhee-Browne
This was the winner of our book pack for favourite Australian short story.
The baby was in bed with her now. She had her arms around its impossibly tiny body and its warm head close on her belly. The girl, for she was only a girl and not a mother despite what the nurse had said, was cold and knew the baby would be too. She’d no heating in this flat, just piles of paper and clothes which she sometimes considered throwing into the fireplace and setting alight for the warmth. Instead she lay still and considered her heart. Imagined it inside her chest so still and strange. The baby was ten days old and the girl’s heart didn’t pulse for the baby. Though she would hold it close for now.
The girl had lived a sort of heady life – out of home at fourteen then heroin to show them, heroin to please him, heroin to pretend until now. She was so young and had known more about the bitumen than herself, how it melted in the Melbourne summer and stuck to her shoes as she sat, nodding near the park at midday. The girl’s shoes had electric yellow curly laces she had stolen from Big W near closing time on a Saturday night. They made her smile.
After two the girl got out from under the covers with a sweaty sheen on her chest. The baby was dribbling and felt too hot so she brought it to the sink for a sort of bath. She let the cool water drip through her fingers onto the baby’s belly button and fat kicking legs. The girl tried not to think about how she had felt before the baby was born, purple and red, from her vagina. The appointments at the clinic had begun each time on a ratty chair in the waiting room, her hands clasped over her big stomach and a pink smile on her face. Each appointment seemed more real than anything else and she loved the way the doctor would talk to her, soft and clear and exact, telling her about how her child was faring inside of her and what to expect upon birth. The warmth of her body from the baby inside had helped her to stop being sad and she thought that perhaps this was what she was going to be; a young and capable mother, wheeling her pram and cooing to her babe amongst the throng.
Read the rest of this story when Ricochet Magazine goes live at 12pm (AEST) on Monday May 19.
Laura McPhee-Browne is a social worker and writer of short stories and poetry from Melbourne, currently living in Toronto. Laura tweets micro-fiction daily @laurahelenmb.
This was the winner of our book pack for favourite Australian poem.
Bunched up, blighted,
Clutched tight against
This, our coveted life-light,
With finger clams,
Apple cheeks and
This, our tiny creation,
Apportioned to you—
This, our little
Alexandra Scale is a keen word enthusiast studying a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) at Deakin University. She is currently on exchange at the University of Iceland; you can catch up on all her wanderings and ramblings at 150daysiniceland.wordpress.com.