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September 16, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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Fixing Your Life (Because Ours Are Written Off)

H+J,

what is the best way to get my work into Salient?

Love always, June.

 

Hi June,

Look, everyone asks this question like it’s some incredibly difficult goal. When I was in the tender position of awkward first-year, I thought the same thing. A couple of people I knew at my hostel had written for the ol’ rag, but as far as I was concerned they had hit the lottery. Maybe they’d been discovered during a slam-poetry recital. Maybe they’d been sleeping with the editor. Maybe, maybe, maybe. My point is, everyone not involved with the magazine (my younger self included) seems to think that writing for Salient is like writing for SNL. Or… something a little bit less self-congratulatory.

In reality, it’s nothing like that at all. A difficult selection process couldn’t be farther from the truth. All you have to do is send an email to the appropriate person (you’ll find them on the inside cover). If you want to write features (or pitch your existing stuff), email the Editor. If you want to write news, email the News Editor. If you want to write arts, email the Arts Editor. I feel like this was covered pretty exhaustively early in the year, which would have been a great time for you to build a relationship with the people in charge, too. Then maybe one day you could be in the cushy position of advice columnist, which blessedly requires very little in the way of research.

The way I see it, though, the main issue is with courage. It takes a lot of pluck to up and email an intimidating figure like the Editors of Salient, particularly if you haven’t been at University for long. The fact that it’s really straightforward notwithstanding, I’d suggest that you just fire off an email to them right now. They’re probably a little strung out, given that it’s the last term of the year, but they’re honestly quite lovely people. A lot of strange folk come through the Salient Towers, and part of the job description is tolerance. They’ll be plenty nice to you so long as you obey normal social rules like not touching their elbows or playing with their hair when they aren’t expecting it. Send an email, get your name on a list, and then actually write things.

I can’t emphasise that enough. Write. The overwhelming majority of people who call themselves ‘writers’ spend their days doing anything other than ‘writing’. They’ll call it writer’s block, or a lack of inspiration, or anything else, but that’s irrelevant. At the end of the day, you won’t be a writer (and you won’t get any better at it) unless you’re actually writing. Salient is a great way to do that, so pitch them articles, features, news, anything. Get your foot in the damn door and don’t stop pushing.

Or, sub-edit. That’s just spellchecking, and it’s what the cool kids are doing these days. No better way to surround yourself with writer-types than to make them fear you.

Enjoy the free pizza,

Hector

——

Hi June,

Friends of my friends “did Salient”. I didn’t have the courage to offer to write for them of my own accord, but it didn’t matter, because early last year they suggested to me that I give it a try. I don’t think you should do that, though, because it’s too tenuous. Be assertive. (That’s the one in the middle, right, that’s not passive or aggressive? Yeah, be that one.)

Isn’t this just a way of being able to practice something that you like, in a relatively low-pressure way, where you might not get around to doing it otherwise?  Maybe you don’t even like writing, but you’ve slept with all your friends such that you need a new group that you can look in the eye? COME ON DOWN—we don’t do that here. See?! All you have to do is show up to the office a couple of times, say nothing openly racist, and you too can have your in-jokes put in print—but, you know, make some token effort to ensure they’re objectively funny.

If you think Salient is too narrow or too niche or full of (not quite objectively funny) in-jokes, then you should shelve your super-cool apathy and resolve to write something in it that you’d rather read. If you can’t be fucked offering an alternative, your critique loses a large amount of its sting.

My last selling point, if that’s how you’ve read this, is that you really want to know which international porn star writes the Hector half of this column.

Trust me.

Janet

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