One thing’s clear: Pratibha‘s no ordinary draggin. In addition to writing for us all the time here at FF, last year she signed on to judge a term. When that was done, she signed on again. And when that was over, well, she up and launched her own literary magazine, The Literary Nest.
You can see why we had no choice but to talk to her about it! Pratibha, you crazy, fabulous writer — welcome to Spotlight!
What motivated you to found The Literary Nest?
There are only a handful of well-known print magazines that publish unsolicited work from unknown authors. I wanted to open up publishing opportunities for skillful and imaginative writers who languish in oblivion because of the lack of publishing opportunities.
The literary world is filled with writings from MFA graduates, but there are many capable writers who do not have resources or inclination to pursue an MFA. I love to read the works by both formally schooled and unschooled writers.
There are many styles of writing that do not exactly fit the contemporary postmodern style, but there are unschooled and intuitive writers who write insightful fiction and poetry. I have encountered a massive number of stories, novels, and poems in my fifty years of reading fiction and poetry, and have developed eclectic tastes and a wide open mind to welcome diverse styles.
There is a lot of good online and print literature in the world today. I wanted to curate a collection of works that I like to read.
>I wanted to curate a collection of works that I like to read.<
Why me? If you have searched through The Literary Nest‘s website, you must have noticed that the magazine has a single editor who does all the work. You might say to yourself, “Why should I trust my beautiful fiction or poetry to this one person?”, and you would be right to question. After all, shouldn’t the editor be a successfully published writer with … ahem… a “Pushcart Nomination” under his or her belt?
Let me answer your question with an equally apt question. Does being a writer automatically imply that he or she is a savvy reader? While you ponder it, let me share my experiences. I have many writer friends as well as reader friends, and I am always amazed to learn from the readers about some the finer points of the story or a poem. The details do not necessarily come from its technical merit. They come from the emotional or intellectual appeal of the story. In other words, how a story or a poem speaks to the reader is often crucial. Let me illustrate it with an analogy. I learned the Indian classical dance style, Kathak, for ten years. The word “Katha” means a story in Hindi, and “Kathak” means storyteller. When I watch a dance performance, I am intrigued by the intricate footwork, the subtle hand movements, and facial expressions, scrutinizing each detail, and wondering about my own (in)ability to convey the story. However, the general audience is simply enthralled and transfixed without worrying about the technical details. They are paying attention to the movement of the story rather than worrying about the technical details.
As a reader, I prefer this type of seamless experience, and as an editor I strive to bring this experience to the readers.
What qualifies me? I have studied literature in two different languages. I have an MA in English Literature and have taught English Lit to high school and college students. You can find a brief sample of my literary analysis essays here. I have practiced the fine art of reading the story and to extracting the essence, for the enjoyment of the readers. Consider me as a honeybee that collects the nectar from the blossoms and turns it into honey. (Yeah, I love mixing metaphors.)
And dear readers, over the years I have written and thrown away more stories than you will ever imagine. I do not wish such a fate upon you. I want you to keep writing and flourish. I started this magazine to encourage and guide upcoming writers. I hope to feature works of some established writers as well.
So, give up all the notions of classifying the writing into genres, and send me your best writing. The Literary Nest is an online magazine, so I would not publish gratuitous sex or violence.
Here is the official mission of the magazine.
The Literary Nest is an independent non-profit literary magazine. It is a platform for the poets and writers from all across the world. We envision this to be a warm and beloved quilt of the physical and emotional landscape woven by of the thread of diverse voices. We provide publishing opportunities to the aspiring writers alongside the established ones.
I read every word that comes into the mailbox. I have a few literary friends and students who read for me when I need a second or third opinion. I also have the greatest poetry advisor, Annie Finch, on the board. I reach out to her often. We’ve had a fiction advisor, Maureen Fadem. In the future I plan to invite guest editors for the themed issues.
What sets The Literary Nest apart from other magazines on the market?
I wanted a platform where significant writing that makes an emotional impact can be featured without restricting the content to a specific genre. The only restriction is that we don’t publish writing that is sexually explicit or contains graphic violence.
It is important to me to feature writers without regard to the geographical, cultural, or political boundaries. I am interested in the new and interesting voices.
I am against reading fees or contest entry fees, and I believe that writers should be paid for their work. I am on the lookout for the publishing models that will allow that. I need associates that understand the business of publishing.
How often do you publish?
We aim to publish four quarterly issues per year.
What are some stories you especially like?
Mikey, by Judy Salz – This is a short-short. It is told through an autistic child’s POV, and the voice is innocent and adorable.
The Man Who Lives in My Shower, by Dallas Woodburn – The story is told in the first person by a young woman whose boyfriend has died a violent, untimely death. I loved the psychological tension and the gradual resolution as the young woman walks through her grief.
I would like to point to one other story published in The Missouri Review that I enjoyed recently, Balsam, by Stephanie Coyne DeGhett.
Is there a particular feel that you’re going for? Do you like modern, contemporary, structure-defying, edgy, experimental pieces; or humorous; or slice-of-life; or traditional/poetic? dark pieces?
Yes to all. 🙂
I discovered reading at an early age. As soon as I could recognize the alphabet and form words, it became an obsession with me. I would sound out words on every road sign, billboard, newspaper, magazine, and packing material, anything that displayed writing. It was akin to solving the puzzles. It didn’t take long for me to graduate to more substantial reading. It was an escape mechanism. I grew up in a chaotic environment. Reading offered the powerful guideposts for a mind in a constant state of confusion. Of course, not everything I read was age-appropriate, and most of it went over my head. The only children’s book I ever read was Shyamchi Aai (Shyam’s Mother) by reputed Marathi author Sane Guruji, but the moralistic tone of the book made me feel awful about my own shortcomings. Reading kept me out of everybody’s hair; it was a sign of good behavior; being quiet was a virtue. When I visited relatives, they stocked up on books for me. I read “thought” novels about freedom fighters, socially conscious middle class men, while explicitly avoiding more romantic novels, not by free will, but because of the influence of my extended family. Still, the books offered me an oasis away from the chaos.
This accidental exposure to “high” literature whetted my taste buds. I was fortunate to have been exposed to three languages at an early age, so I read in all three. The ocean of books was deep and wide, and the tide kept pulling me in. I read indiscriminately without any preconceived notions of what constitutes a “literary” novel. The books that made the impact on me were the ones that didn’t conclude with “happily ever after.” They left unanswered questions. The main characters were imperfect human beings. I questioned their choices, their decisions. I agonized over the unanswered questions. Over the years, I realized that those questions had no firm answers. The real life problems or issues do not have satisfactory resolutions; the questions of life do not have black or white answers. The flaws of characters, some of their incessant obsessions and phobias, made me feel that there is place in the world for everyone as long you examine your life.
Stephen King once said, “[..] We have fiction that we call literature, which has a tendency to be about extraordinary people in ordinary circumstances, and then we have popular fiction, which is supposedly about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.” (source)
Psychologist David Comer Kidd says, “What great writers do is to turn you into the writer. In literary fiction, the incompleteness of the characters turns your mind to trying to understand the minds of others, [..]” (source)
So my take is, “Do not be afraid to write what comes naturally to you. Do not worry about the audience, or the perfect ending with poetic justice. Write because you have stories, and not just because you have words.”
>Write because you have stories, and not just because you have words.<
There are many writers here in Flash! Friday who write fiction that could be considered as literary in my definition. So I hope they write longer, incisive pieces for The Literary Nest.
What should writers know before submitting?
Please do read the submission guidelines and the previous issues. Send us your very best work. Do not ever be discouraged by a rejection. Many times I would love to accept a given piece with some edits.
What contemporary authors do you especially love to read?
I like stories, novels, or poems without regard to a particular author. I rarely like all the stories or novels by the same author. One exception is J. M. Coetzee. I liked everything by him so far.
Here are some of the novels I read recently (in last six months.)
Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee – This is the novel that Lee wrote before To Kill a Mockingbird.
The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman – This novel is like a Rubik’s Cube; you have to put the story together by matching the pieces.
All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins Plot – puzzle
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
The last two novels have an unreliable narrator like the narrator in The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. Also, these are popular fiction novels.
Do you accept various formats? Stories, essays, poetry? Genres? Are dragons welcome? 🙂
Dragons are welcome as long they cast some light on their humans.
We publish literary fiction, poetry, and visual art. Read my answers above to see what is considered literary for us. No non-fiction yet. I like to live in the imaginary world.
When’s your next deadline?
The next issue comes out on Oct 15. The submission deadline is Sep 30th, 2015. There is always one week’s grace period, especially for dragons.
Any last thoughts?
I have used “I/we” too indiscriminately, but please be assured that I have no intentions to refer to myself in plural. Although as I am the public face of the magazine, it is a collective effort; hence the “we” reference.
And yes, do submit.
Please send all queries to theliterarynest (at) gmail (dot) com.