I’m Paige, Submissions Editor here at The Letters Page. So, a day in the life of our journal… where to begin? As the job title suggests, I’m predominantly involved with submissions at the journal; I read through your submissions, all of which make for a mighty stockpile in the office. Seriously, who needs to climb Mount Everest when you can stand next to a letter-pile almost as big as it? (Disclaimer: this is somewhat of an exaggeration. But the submission pile might be somewhat equivalent to the size of your average adult-sized human.) (Disclaimer for the previous disclaimer: That was another exaggeration, albeit slightly less hyperbolic than the first.)
In all seriousness, there is no greater accomplishment than reading your way through the submissions for each issue. Granted, it might not have the same athletic requirements as actually climbing Mount Everest (example: I can sit and eat chocolate hobnobs whilst defeating the letter-mountain. You can probably eat chocolate hobnobs as you saunter up the side of Everest, but I imagine it isn’t advised.) What my paper-made alp requires is something of an entirely different nature: a critical eye. To be able to grapple with the notion of what constitutes ‘good writing’ as swiftly and directly as if it were a bear or a snow-lion. (Do they have these perched at the top of Everest? I feel like they might not. You might be able to tell that I don’t actually do any climbing at this point.) To be able to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes a letter good or great. What it is and why. This is a complex question in itself, first and foremost because each individual letter-writer tackles this dilemma differently.
In the next couple of posts, I will hopefully be able to shed some light on what it is that we’re looking for in a letter (not that there is a single, unified thing that we’re looking for), as well as some of the roles I have at The Letters Page: presenting a case for letters that I feel should be included in the journal (as if I were starring in a literary version of Legally Blonde), writing personalised rejection letters for those letters that don’t quite make the cut, and well as proof-reading the initial drafts of the new issue.
ISSUE 3 - THE TRAVELLING LIGHT ISSUE
We’re thinking about travel, and travelling, and being away from home. We’re thinking about the song, ‘Travelling Light’, from the second Tindersticks album, but that’s probably just us. We’re thinking about being away from home, and writing home, and writing away. We’re thinking about how distant you can really ever be in the digital age. We’re hoping that our correspondents will interpret this thematic starting point in as loose or associative or casual a way as they see fit. We welcome your letters - essays, fiction, poetry, memoir, travelogue, criticism, illustration - which in some way refer to the idea of travelling light. We look forward to hearing from you.
Deadline for submissions: January 15th, 2014.
We pay £100 in actual money.
You can find the standard submission guidelines here, but in essence your letter should be handwritten on a single side of A4 paper, in an envelope with your name and address on the back, and sent to the address below.
When the Wall Street Journal wanted a pithy remark about the current popularity of the open letter format, to whom did they turn? Yes, your friendly editors at The Letters Page. We’re disappointed they didn’t use the line about open letters being ‘the stage-whisper of the epistolary form’, but perhaps it was a bit much.
They also left the bit out about Issue 2, featuring letters from George Saunders, Kevin Barry, Eimear McBride and many more, being out on December 9th, but you knew that already didn’t you?
We hope you are excited as we are about to launch the second issue of The Letters Page.
Join us as we send the second instalment of The Letters Page in the general direction of our subscribers’ inboxes and post-boxes. There will be mince pies, obviously, and drinks, and fine literary/correspondence conversation. There will also be a team of postmasters and postmistresses available with stationery supplies to help you write that long-intended card to a friend or loved one. Plus mince pies. Did we mention those already?
With a playlist of letter-themed songs, and a special guest on hand to press ‘launch’ at the pivotal moment, this is highly likely to be one of the parties of the season. RSVP now on our Eventbrite page to make sure you don’t miss out.
Our first issue is now available to download from our new official website, here; a special email memo with the download link went out to all our subscribers yesterday afternoon, and by the evening there was a minor hubbub of really quite nice feedback on our Twitter timeline. We’ve posted it here simply by way of keeping records for our back-office staff: file under ‘impact’. But also we’re a little bit pleased as well.
@TheLettersPage just reading issue one, loving it…might have to write you a letter to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed it!— Suzanne Lively (@livelywriter) October 2, 2013
— Peter Hobbs (@HobbsPete)
First edition of @TheLettersPage was lovely, so you should probably sign up.— Will Downes (@WillDownes)