How we work at Writer’s Block

As published in Writer’s Block #20, Februari 2014


Dear readers,

You might wonder what we, the editors of Writer’s Block, actually do when you hear silence in our office and when we keep telling you we are lost in a cacophony of sound, craving caffeine and sleeping too little. This is why we want to enlighten you as to what the world of Writer’s Block actually entails. We are a small group of people and we have a big interest in our readers and contributors. Therefore, we want to show  you how we are running this magazine, so that you know it as well. Every once in a while, all of a sudden a Writer’s Block wildly appears lying around in the Bungehuis, ready for you to read. This has happened twenty times by the time you read this. This is the fifth time that the Writer’s Block editors in this current formation (more or less) make sure you get to read the finest pieces of writing from our contributors. We plan to keep doing this, albeit with different people joining and leaving the editorial board each year.

Every single week we to come together in the Bungehuis and talk about the submissions we received. If we didn’t receive any, it is a wonderful moment for us to despair and lapse into yet another brainstorming session about PR techniques, because we need submissions in order to exist. Every submission is read by all editors before the meetings and is discussed in all its aspects when we meet. We often don’t agree on which is the best part, or the least interesting part, but we keep on talking until we reach a consensus about what feedback we want to give the writer. If we don’t reach a consensus, we – very democratically – vote and some will be happy and some will be heartbroken for the rest of the meeting. For each piece of work, whether we want to place it or not, we assign one or two editors to add comments to the text. With these comments we try to point the writer to grammatical or lexical mistakes and gently try to suggest some changes. This could be a suggestion to leave out a certain part that we think is unnecessary and without which the story will have a stronger impact on the reader or will simply flow more easily. We always want to be in dialogue with our writers rather than imposing radical changes on their texts without explanation. Sometimes writers are not amused by our suggestions, but then again, writing is a very personal engagement. It’s hard to let someone touch your baby and you might not expect to have to change a lot in your writings when you send your work to a magazine. We, however, want to make use of the full potential that a text has. Therefore, we want to share our humble opinion with you and we hope the writer can find a use for our trains of thought. Of course we have read a lot of texts by now and we try to use all this experience to edit your works and prepare them for publication.

While our meetings are the most regular part of our schedule concerning Writer’s Block, it is definitely not the only thing that has to be done in order to successfully publicize the magazine. The editors have a lot of email contact with the writers and once in a while arrange a personal meeting with them. We are often busy with designing posters, flyers, finding interesting things to share with you on Facebook and sometimes visiting your classes to encourage you to submit anything you might have written lately or in the past. Within the group, Ruby takes care of our e-mail inbox, Ines takes notes during the meetings and Joeri takes care of  our expenses and income. Robert usually leads the meetings and Nora makes to-do lists for everyone and makes sure the entire group takes notice of the deadlines ahead. Isadora takes care of our contact with the Amsterdam Writer’s Guild, a group that we’d like to support in their enthusiasm for English creative writing in Amsterdam. Isabel, Thirza, Yentl and Joshua are passionate general editors and writers. They work hard to fill our issues with the very best.

After the editors have finished discussing the texts, the final editing round still has to be done. This means looking for minor mistakes like misspelled words, comma splices or double spaces. Then it is time to collect and order all the reviews, stories, poems, photos and other creative works that are ready to be placed in the issue. The actual pages are then put together and designed by Nora, after which the whole is once again checked for errors by our proofreaders. The last two steps consist of contacting the press and making sure they print our issue in the exact right format and on the exact right paper, and eventually, it is time to distribute all the copies that are now ready to be devoured by you. At this very moment we can only hope that you enjoy reading it as much as we have enjoyed making it, and that it will inspire some of you to send in your writings for the next WB!

Yours sincerely,

Yentl Dudink and Nora van Arkel


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