Thursday, July 7, 2011

Poetry, The Writer's Handbook, Playboy and a serious case of the giggles

Oh ho hum.

There I was, perusing the pages of the Writer's Handbook 2010 (can't afford the latest edition) looking for markets for humorous stories and general inane waffle as befitting my abilities when my eye fell upon an article by Chris Hamilton Emery of Salt Publishing, an independent publisher specializing in poetry. As you know poetry has been on mind lately (or not on my mind lately - whichever way you look at it) so I duly read through his article Twenty things I didn't know before becoming a poetry publisher which had me giggling into my coffee cup and generally thinking that Mr Hamilton Emery should be writing comedy rather than poetry. Here's number 14 of his 20 ....

Roughly speaking, the developed world's population will all become poets in 2033. Poets are the plankton of the literary world....Some people call themselves poets because they write stuff. This is like describing yourself as an athlete because you jogged to catch the No.33 bus this morning. Most "poets" are frauds and, like rogue traders, will turn up to mend your boiler with a sack of bread knives and a tub of Vaseline."

Classic stuff. Echoes my sentiments entirely. Anyhow, to continue. Having failed to find anything suitable in The Writers Handbook that looked even vaguely promising and a proliferation of "No short stories," No unsolicited manuscripts"or "Unsolicited manuscripts never used/rarely used/only used if we're desperate and you've got a double barrelled surname and are related to a long line of literary geniuses" I was beginning to feel despondent.

Now, of course, there's nothing to stop me soliciting my work in the first instance with a letter or email but somehow that conjures up a picture of my good self standing on a street corner in fishnets and a miniskirt as a car containing a disreputable publisher pulls up and the window unwinds as I whisper suggestively "Sixty quid for a humorous typed story - thirty quid for a hand job."

(That's "hand written job" obviously - I have principles you know. Not many obviously. But some.)

So anyway, feeling a bit dispirited I thought the best thing to do was to search the entire Writers Handbook for the word "humour." Now to be fair, some publishers did use the word "humour." However - if you use the word "humour" and then quickly follow it by the words "Melvin Bragg" should one be taking you seriously as a publisher of humour?

Anyway, I buckled down and had a good read (scan) and then, suddenly, my heart started to beat furiously as I read (scanned) something very promising indeed;

Approach in writing with ideas. Unsolicited manuscripts not welcome unless from qualified chess experts and players.

My heart thudded even more wildly as ambitious thoughts raced through my mind...

I can play chess! It's a strange request - but maybe it's to prove you have a brain! And I have a brain! How many 46 year old women can play chess and know what "castling" is? I must be in with a chance of proving I'm a brilliant academic, literary genius and writer of extraordinary talent! (etc etc etc)

And then I looked at the title of the publication:

British Chess Magazine

Hmm. Me thinks that somehow I've proved I am not an undiscovered genius...

So duly put in my place, I decided to search the Internet for suggestions for places for my humorous stories until at last I found a magazine which actually specifically mentioned the word "humour" and, even better, it was contained in the following sentence;

Regarded as one of the best paying markets for serious contemporary stories, mystery, suspense, humour, science fiction and sports stories.  

Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah! A magazine actually exists that wants humorous stories! My salvation had arrived!

Or possibly not.

As the magazine was...


Yes. Playboy. How does that work? Would any Gentlemen Readers like to enlighten me? Does Playboy have funny stories that are raunchy as well? How do they do it? Are the protagonists ones such as Coco the Clown who pulls funny faces by day and by night is a male stripper? Are the stories wild fantasies about Joan Rivers or having sex with inflatable replicas of George Bush?

Somebody explain please....

In the meantime, whilst I wait for you readers to enlighten me I feel I need to research this market.... So last night I asked the Good Mr T to bring home a copy of said magazine.

You have never seen a man more delighted in your life.

Ps: I would like to add that there was a lot of "rules" attached to the purchase of said magazine.

Pps: I would like to add that my next story may be about a sexually frustrated chess player whose "castle" is under siege from a group of marauding lesbian warriors.

Any takers?


  1. I've always wondered if anybody read the articles in Playboy. Surely the temptation to just look at the pictures would prove too great? Although I believe that a number of 'proper' writers have contributed in the past, I imagine that to be many years ago during it's heyday. Swinging sixties and all that!

    I'd be interested to hear your views on Playboy; cutting edge, or just a bit grubby? I reckon your idea about the chess player and the lesbian warriors is a winner! God alone knows what goes on inside your head.......

    Oh, and I know what castling is, I was a part of the school chess team. Oh yes.

  2. Well I have no feedback as yet Martin - I have to wait for the good Mr T to do a long distance journey so there's no chance anyone local might see him buy it - (Hmm...perhaps I shouldn't be blogging about this...) I did offer to put a paper bag over his head but he was worried he might pick up a copy of Woman's Weekly. I think I'll get the darn thing myself.. Really, can it be that embarrassing? Surely, no worse than buying The News of The World or Okay Magazine...

    Yes, I think the chess player and the lesbians story holds some promise. It could possibly be the only exciting thing ever to have resulted from the game of chess...which is not easy as you know as chess is well interesting..

    A lot of stuff goes inside my head - well so my therapist says:))

  3. Hi Jane,

    I think there was a typo in the Handbook and it should have read Chest Preyers?

    Anna May x

  4. What double chin, that's the camera angle!

  5. Nice one, Anna!


    I like your style:))


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