New Contexts: 1 – various authors (to be published 1st January 2021)
Every day in the UK tens of thousands of people – if not hundreds of thousands – spend some of their precious time scribing and scribbling, armies of amateur scriveners compelled to put pen to paper, fingers on keyboards, one word in front of another, and all to see what happens. Consider that globally and the numbers of people being creative with language is truly extraordinary. Each of us will have our individual reasons for writing, many of them common, but where the majority of us truly come together is in the desire to be read.
On the face of it there are lots of outlets for writers, especially when you consider that technology has provided the means to allow us to create our own websites and blogs, or to indulge in a little indie publishing. Whilst these contribute to an ever-expanding and increasingly densely populated literary landscape, people continue to submit to competitions, journals and magazines. In the vast majority of cases we do so not for financial reward but for recognition, to be validated, to have a ‘readership’. Perhaps the challenge is also a competitive one, but given there are vastly more aspirants than ‘winners’, unless you are both talented and lucky you are likely to submit your ‘entrance fee’ and be disappointed.
When it comes to publication, of the two deciding factors – talent and luck – the latter is the most fickle. You may have heard of poets who, in submitting the same poem to the same competition across multiple years, happen to win when it strikes a chord with one particular year’s judge.
You might also argue that a third element comes into play: ‘difference’. Find a way to make your piece stand out from the rest – a bizarre layout, incomprehensible word use, novel structure – and I suspect it stands a better chance of being published, with judges sometimes equating ‘difference’ with talent. An easy mistake to make.
The idea for New Contexts was born from all of the above. Why not put Coverstory books‘ publishing experience to good use and see if we could harvest just a small sample of good unpublished writing and create an anthology to showcase it? Why not see if there was a market – of both writers and readers – for another journal, something sourced entirely from the ground-up?
In order to test the water, the literary pond in which we fished for contributions to New Contexts: 1 was deliberately constrained. The prime source of material has been from the UK-based Stanza Groups of the Poetry Society along with followers of Coverstory books. In any event, we hope what we have been able to put together in this inaugural volume represents a reasonable sample of the vast untapped library of good quality unpublished writing. We hope that my contributors – to whom we are immeasurably grateful – are pleased with the finished product. And we hope there will be a New Contexts: 2 at some point in 2021!