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On Angela Fountas’s  wonderful web site for writers, Write Habit, she offers a great list of literary magazines especially for new and emerging writers.

What got my attention was her definition of new/emerging writers — “emerging meaning writers who have not yet published a book, and new meaning writers who have not yet published in journals” — which I was glad to see, since I’ve never really been clear on the whole thing.

When asked by students, in my cluelessness I’ve quoted Tobias Wolff’s definition, which is “anyone not yet famous enough to enjoy the certainty of publication” –  wonderfully vague, yet completely appropriate. Even the Emerging Writers Network defines its mission as connecting “emerging writers, established writers deserving of wider recognition, and readers of literary books,” another broad description that, to me, confirms that the ideas of new and emerging are nebulous at best, at least when it comes to writers.

While by Fountas’s definition, I may no longer be an emerging writer, I have to admit I still feel like one. But for me, this is a good thing. I can’t rest on my laurels, as I have none. I write for the joy of creating, not for a paycheck. And because I still need to work and teach and weigh the benefits of spending money on food vs. alcohol, I’m deeply immersed in a world that gives me constant sources of material. With all this in mind, I’m happy to be an emerging writer … and hope that I’ll still feel the same energy even if/when I no longer am.


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Thanks for framing the debate on this, Midge. It's important for the purposes of worthy organizations like Write Habit to define these things, but I think all writers—or all creative people—have to keep thinking of themselves as "emerging" in order to make the next artistic leap.

Huntington Sharp, Red Room