By Sonja LeDuc (nom de plume)
In the beginning — which must be the three liveliest words ever strung together in an opening sentence in the entire history of literature — The Sopris Sun wanted to publish the work of local creative writers. We tried before. As anyone who creates something from nothing knows, it takes more than one attempt. We are going to try again. No pressure, but the literary page we are calling “Work in Progress” depends on you, the creative writer.
The title, “Work in Progress,” expresses the idea that The Sopris Sun is finding its way in this venture along with the creative writers who join the ride. We invite authors who want to have their words read even before they are polished to perfection. Work in Progress focuses on a moment in the creative process. Criticism is withheld.
Novelists, short story writers, poets, writers of haiku and seekers of truth in words can participate. Bring out the self-published novels and manuscripts stashed in a drawer. Parade these darlings before The Sun’s gentle readers. If a writer is concerned that readers won’t be gentle enough, they can feel free to adopt that age-old protection, that impenetrable veil of mystery, the nom de plume.
Local artists, crafters and musicians have many venues to publicly showcase the stuff of their imagination and skill, while creative writers have limited opportunity to do so.
Most writers are invisible until their published novel is proclaimed a blockbuster. This seems too narrow a definition for success. The Sopris Sun’s nonprofit status calls upon the organization to serve needs that are not met by other entities. One need in Carbondale is a published space for creative writers to be read. Our mission statement, “to inform, inspire and build community by fostering diverse and independent journalism” is our permit to provide this space.
The newspaper regrets that it is not able to pay creative writers. However, self-published authors whose work is published can mention their books and blogs at no cost. And, depending on how this experiment in community literary sharing goes, we expect there are charitable foundations we can apply to for funding someday. But that’s getting ahead of this story.
The Sopris Sun will not publish novels in consecutive installments the way all Charles Dickens’ were. We intend, however, to publish short stories in installments.
It’s rare these days for a print newspaper to publish original fiction and poetry. Since we will also accept original submissions of previously unpublished illustrations and cartoons, Work in Progress is a modest homage to The New Yorker, the most famous literary weekly in America. To that note, the magazine’s founder, Harold Ross, was born in an impoverished prospector’s cabin in Aspen in 1892 and lived in the Roaring Fork Valley with his family until he was eight years old. His father scraped by, moving from one rugged Colorado mining town to the next. Ross was reportedly embarrassed by his Rocky Mountain schooling in reading and writing and later taught himself from grammar books and dictionaries.
We chose April 21 for the Work in Progress launch date because it is the week of William Shakespeare’s birthday. It seems fitting since this date, and the bard himself, might be fictitious. Scheduling almost two months out also gives us time to cache an inventory of literary works, and for you to replenish it.
There is time to start, by sitting still in what Philip Roth called “the deeply uneventful business” of writing.
Work in Progress submissions:
Fiction, short stories and poetry of up to 800 words can be accepted. We can also publish excerpts of up to 800 words from a single long work, such as a novel. Writers of all ages are welcome. Submit works to email@example.com