It can be really scary doing something new. There's no guarantee that other people will see what you doing - rather than assume you're just making a mistake, failing to achieve the conventions you're actually questioning - or if they do that they'll find it palatable. And no guarantee that you're not failing unless someone else tells you you're not. So it was with great relief that I heard this week that the last one I wrote has been accepted by an exciting new online magazine Horizon Review, named after Cyril Connelly's original Horizon, coming from the Salt umbrella and edited by poet and novelist Jane Holland. In fact, on the Horizon website Jane says that she is indeed open to writing that dares to take risks, and wishes to make the mag a place of question and challenge.
It so happened that the other day, via the Story website, I came across some pertinent comments in an article by AL Kennedy. She says rightly that the magazines that used to print stories have largely disappeared and instead:
they're left to be harried by endless small-scale competitions that merrily dictate size, content, themes and even title options.
Yes, this is the rub. Competitions which impose such restrictions (and that's most of them, as she says) make my heart sink, because they always imply certain expectations or certain acceptable norms, which simply cannot apply to innovative writing, and cannot encourage the innovative urge in writers. Clearly innovative stories do sometimes win competitions, but it seems to me a triumph over circumstance when it happens.