Writer’s Block #22

Find here our first Writer’s Block of this academic year!

We hope you enjoy it and you are encouraged to send in some work of your own! Writer’s Block is always looking for new pieces of writing, because without submissions there is no WB. We hope to read some of your writings soon!

Click here for the online version of WB #22.

Advertisements

WB Column: Accents

Awrite! Hou’s aw wi ye? Can A gie ye a haund?

It’s quite remarkable that when you study English you get taught about grammar, literature, philosophy even, but nothing about pronunciation. We do have phonology, but that is mostly theoretical and only in Received Pronunciation. We learn how to pronounce sounds and phonemes, but don’t actually practice it, there is no oral exam.

We firmly believe that there should be a possibility to both practice oral skills and different types of accents. Wouldn’t we all like to show off our well-polished Scottish or Australian accents? We understand that this might not be suitable for the obligated curriculum, but it would definitely be so much fun as an elective. Take the Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen for instance, they already have a similar course to train their students’ oral communication skills.

It would not only be fun but also very useful to be able to speak different accents, because it would broaden the fields of research in other courses. There are books that read as though written in an accent. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh for example, is written in Scottish English, or The Color Purple by Alice Walker, which is written in African American Vernacular English, and As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner in a Southern American dialect. One can of course understand these books when you speak RP, but knowing the accents and where they come from enriches the experience of reading so much more.

Another reason to learn all sorts of accents, is because it is toe-curlingly awkward when you’re having a conversation with a native speaker and you don’t understand them, to tell them that you study English at University. We’ve had many occasions when we had to embarrassingly admit to this.

Basically, we’re secretly hoping a UvA staff member will read this column and get it done. From our most beloved source WikiHow. We’d like to share with you this golden gift of learning how to speak like a Geordie: http://www.wikihow.com/Talk-Like-a-Geordie . Enjoy rebelling against the system and learning your first non-standard accent on your own! Cheers!

Ines Severino & Yentl Dudink

Best of Writer’s Block: Special Edition

Find here a special of Writer’s Block with a few selections of the best works of the last few years.

We hope you enjoy it and you are encouraged to send in some work of your own! Writer’s Block is always looking for new pieces of writing, because without submissions there is no WB. We hope to read some of your writings soon!

Click here for the online version of the WB Special for the Literary Festival of Etcetera at Spui 25 last week, Books That Will Save Your Life. The link to the online registration of this event will follow soon.

Writer’s Block #21

Find here our latest Writer’s Block!

We hope you enjoy it and you are encouraged to send in some work of your own! Writer’s Block is always looking for new pieces of writing, because without submissions there is no WB. We hope to read some of your writings soon!

Click here for the online version of WB #21.

We’re only human / Column Block

We as editors of Writer’s Block have decided to start a new series of columns, of which this is the first. Our aim with this is to write about the things that us editors encounter whilst being a part of the Writer’s Block editorial board.

Having read so many work sent in by you, it’s daunting to start writing ourselves. We have to be such grammar nazi’s about your work, so how to write our first column ever? We want to get the best out of your work, however, we are, not infallible either. Most members of our board are aspiring writers as well; we understand that writing is not easy, and it is even harder to show your work to others and be criticized.

So with that in mind, what would be a suitable subject for an editorial column? Why not to show you how hard it is for us to write a column open to your critics. Let’s see if we can write a column that lives up to our own standards.

Where to start, where are we going? Can we make grammatical errors? What will our fellow editors say? As we mentioned before, the task is daunting, to say the least. We are the first editors of Writer’s Block to write a column for our website, however all the editors have to face the same challenge as we are facing right now. So what now? Writer’s Block? Column Block? Blocking our column, blogging our column, blogging our block? We don’t know. We thought it fitting to write about our difficulty to write a column. So here we are writing, thinking, delving deeper into an abyss of despair. How will we ever reach our target of 500 words, or rather, will we ever reach it? It feels like we’re trying to make a deadline, with all our readers , writers and editors as our professors.

We are nearing our end now, thankfully. We can assure you, it was quite the ordeal. This still has to be approved by the editors. Let’s hope they are kind to us. Five more words. Done! Or… ?

Joeri Vrouwenvelder & Joshua Swart

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

 

Would you like to know more or give us some feedback? Contact us here:

Writer’s Block #20

Find here our latest Writer’s Block, including some anniversary specials because this is already our 20th issue. Besides this, you can read the winning essay of our essay competition, a comic sketch, some poems and reviews and a short story.

We hope you enjoy it and you are encouraged to send in some work of your own! Writer’s Block is always looking for new pieces of writing, because without submissions there is no WB. We hope to read some of your writings soon!

Click here for the digital edition of the 20th Writer’s Block.