Last Saturday we launched issue seven of [untitled] to a crowd of about fifty people. Not bad for a bleak wintery day in Melbourne. When I stood in front of the room to talk about the back-story of this little anthology, it hit me that we have been doing a pretty special thing. The night before came the news of AS Patric winning the Miles Franklin and I thought, we published him in issue two. Then when I looked at the back covers of each edition, I realised that many of the contributors are now well on their way to an established writing career.
Of course, our little anthology hasn’t been the making of any careers but it has given a little exposure and I would hope some confidence to each person. This writing gig is a tough one. Toughest of all is getting past the gatekeepers who tell us if we are worthy of passing through. Strange when you think about it because writing is subjective, so how can any of the gatekeepers really know what is going to be successful? It’s an educated guess, not a guarantee. Yes, you need to be able to write but I know many good writers who don’t get picked up. Are they not quirky enough? Don’t hang out with the right people? What they write about isn’t on topic?
You could go crazy trying to work it out. This is why we started [untitled] back in 2009: to offer writers a place for simply good stories. They don’t have to be on topic, they don’t have to be literary, being selected isn’t based on who you know.
We had grand plans when we started. Oh how naïve we were! It was going to be a quarterly magazine and was going to take over the literary world! The printing was paid for on my credit card. It soon became biannual when we realised how much reading was involved. By the third year it became an annual as we found it sucked all our resources dry and cost so much to produce – this last issue has taken two and a half years to get out, but some personal issues contributed to that.
There have been times when we’ve wanted to pack it all in. It’s so much work for very little return BUT what about those writers? Each issue probably costs us money BUT what about the writing? Do we do it for arts sake? I think probably yes. As each issue has been close to completion, we’ve said it will be the last. But then it’s here and it looks pretty and there are stories in there and look at the faces of those writers who have been trying to get published.
When we started out many people didn’t think it would last and that we didn’t know what we were doing (that’s true) but we persevered and learned so much and many people have given up their time without pay to make it happen. As the years rolled on, people started to respect what we’ve been doing. It’s indicative of the whole writing industry. You have to pay your dues, show the world that rejections won’t stop you.
While many other journals and writing magazines close shop, we’re still here. Call it stubbornness, whatever. Over seven years, we’ve published seven issues of this little pocketbook and given voice to about sixty writers. It might not have changed the literary landscape but we’ve watered this little seed and it has grown into something that we are proud of.