Some time back I received a copy of New South – Georgia State University's Journal of Art and Literature (Vol 4, No. 2). I'm not sure how I got this – maybe I entered a contest. Or maybe in some serendipitous course of events the missus' alma mater connected the dots between my writing and her degree in English Lit and sent it. Nevertheless.
I used to aspire to appear in such litmags, and when I began to snag a few with my writing, I began to learn a bit from the other stories. But writers grow, while the litmags stay in the newbie writers' "I just got published!" mode. So reading them began to weigh on me as might the proverbial albatross. Now I procrastinate in reading them whenever they cross my path. And this one justifies euch emotions.
There's poetry here, and prose (unidentified as either fiction or, well, otherwise), and a screenplay. Most are written by MFAers or college instructors, and the occasional writer without such cred. What strikes me about each piece I read here is that they all seem overly self-conscious. By this I mean it's hard for the reader to lose oneself in them because of the measured tone of the pieces – as if the writers were all too pleased to be writing them and all too little involved in them emotionally. That's a stage writers go though, I think, when they're unsure of themselves – and particularly unsure of their stories.
It's as if, in this collection, even fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and screenplays, which are somewhat virtual versions of life, I admit, have slipped another notch into unreality, making them the literary version of computer games' reality. To draw of this issue's cover, there's plenty here to lure readers, but its hooks aren't set all that well. And I hate that – – I'd like to see such litmags challenge me again.