19 November 2012

Editor's Advice to Mil-Writers: Be Flexible, Be Engaged

In terms of military writing, November 2012 exploded with the publication of multiple anthologies focused on themes of war, peace, service, and remembrance. Many of these journals have open calls for submission, and an eye toward publishing new volumes in 2013.

These include:

Despite looming deadlines, the editors of these publications recently offered Red Bull Rising readers their insights into writing for, submitting to, and getting published in journals and anthologies.

This is Part III of a 3-part series of blog-posts resulting from those on-line interviews.


Travis L. Martin is a baritone-voiced evangelist and advocate, a standard-bearer for changing the ways in which veterans issues are framed and discussed on campuses naionwide. The Iraq War veteran is the founder and managing editor The Journal of Military Experience, published for the first time in 2011 on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, Kent. In July 2012, the publication's second volume was published in conjunction with the inaugural Military Experience and the Arts Symposium, a national-level arts and learning event that brought together veterans, arts practitioners, and educators on the EKU campus.

While a graduate student of English at EKU, he helped create a multi-disciplinary Veterans Studies Program that offers an academic minor or certificate. He continues to teach while also pursuing his doctoral research at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kent., regarding 19th and 20th century war memoirs.

In parts literary, arts, and academic journal, The Journal of Military Experience publishes selected works of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and the graphic arts. The journal's third issue is scheduled for publication in November 2013. Deadline for submissions is Dec. 31, 2012. Click here for guidelines.

Selections from the first and second issues of The Journal of Military Experience are available free of charge at the EKU Encompass website.

Print back-issues are also available here and here.

As managing editor, Martin attempts to make The Journal of Military Experience a venue in which veterans can explore old stories in new ways. He encourages experimentation, and instills a collaborative approach to crafting and curating the publication. "My goal with the JME is to help authors craft the best story possible through one-on-one workshopping and mentorship," he says:
I want our authors to use publishing with the JME as a resource to improve both their works and their overall skills. I sincerely hope that the works we help out with end up in larger bodies of writing. That said, I find myself trying to balance this 'idealism' with rigor and quality. We expect the author to hold up his or her end of the bargain and give it 100 percent. I think anyone with the guts to write their story probably has a good one to tell. We just want to help.
Martin advises aspiring writers and artists to aggressively research the journals, contests, or anthologies to which they're submitting:
Think about where you are with your work before submitting to a journal; think about what kind of conversation you want to enter into and what kind of audience you want to reach. [...]

When in doubt, read. Get copies of the journals and previous editions that you are considering submitting to. What are the common themes in their stories? Do they go for the 'guts and glory' stories? Do they attract both female and male authors? Put yourself at an objective remove, and ask yourself where your writing fits or stacks up. If you want more info, just ask.
More than anything else, Martin relishes the engagement, the collaboration, the conversation. "If other editors are anything like me, they probably have no life and live vicariously through the works of their authors," he jokes. "Because of this, they love making new friends. Write up a brief synopsis of what your work is about and get the conversation going before sending in your work." He continues:
My ambition to be a source of support and growth contrasts greatly with journals that reject works outright. I don’t mean to disparage those different approaches. If a journal attracts extremely experienced and accomplished authors, odds are they have earned a reputation that helps them do so. You might think brushing elbows with the greats is a good idea from the get-go. However, you might find that the reviewer weighs your portfolio of publications and affiliations at a proportion inappropriate to the quality of your work. You might also find that the audience for a journal is not the one you want to address. The JME is engaged mostly with returning veterans and those active in the veteran support communities. Other journals might be looking to start a conversation with someone totally different.
Like any veteran editor, however, Martin is also always on the lookout for conversational danger signs and tripwires. "I’m of the belief that no piece of writing is ever complete," he advises:
When someone attaches a story along with a note that says they have written the perfect piece, I get a little weary; I know this person is going to have a tough time taking criticism because they don’t see room for improvement. It’s just not a realistic approach to take. Be humble. Be flexible. These things are not at odds with being a great writer.

Disclaimer: This content regarding military writing is underwritten by Victor Ian LLC, a military media and gaming business. The business publishes Lanterloon, an eclectic lifestyle, technology, and military blog; has a physical retail storefront called "Dragons and Dragoons" located in Colorado Springs, Colo.; and hosts military-writing workshops and other events under the "Sangria Summit" brand name. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for great article and information!



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