What Makes Someone a “Real Writer” Any More Than, Well, You? – Kelly Fitzharris Coody, Editor in Chief

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“Writers, by trade, tend to be more self-deprecating about their work than any other art form that exists.” 

Make no mistake, it is just as much of an art form as is painting or music. The inundation of ghost writers and self-help books topping the charts, so to speak, becoming NY Times Bestsellers, is what is killing our art form. We, the ones in the literary trenches, at SLM are here to revive it. And to spread the word that just because a person holds the title of Editor or Agent, does not give them the power to discredit your work. You don’t need a million degrees in literature or an intense session with a literary Yoda to truly “become one” with the art of writing.

I’d be lying if I said that I had the time, patience and stamina to read every single piece that crosses my path, and appreciate it for what it is, or, to even be able to see it from the writer’s perspective. Because I can’t. Hence the problem with perspective.

Shit happens. We aren’t perfect. We go through trying times and miscommunicate – but just because Melissa and I are usually quick to respond and to schedule your work, I don’t like that this is being taken advantage of by some of you. It makes me feel unappreciated and frustrated. I’m sure Melissa can agree.

From now on, the pace of things will be MUCH, MUCH SLOWER here at SLM – as I am still a full-time stay at home mom, to children who are growing up and who need parenting, who have extracurriculars, I have a husband and a marriage to sustain, and my book has just gone live in the past few weeks, giving me a lot of issues and exciting things to deal with.

Melissa is teaching FIVE (again, FIVE! Cinq! 5!!!) college classes this semester AND working a second job. She is busting her ASS trying to keep up with everything and give me a break from submissions so that I don’t go insane. I’ll be jumping back in this week, but it will be slowly.

We want to continue to love what we do here – not begrudge it or view it as a burden. It’s what we are working hard RIGHT NOW to avoid – in the future. If  we don’t take control over our own literary journal, it can swallow us up and force us to close up shop.

For now, onward and upward!

Those of you who may not know, my first book has been published and is live and available for purchase through a number of retailers. *This is not a shameless plug – I have published through a very, very small, independent press and am genuinely excited to hear your feedback on my book.*

Buy A Copy Directly From Snow Leopard Publishing!

My Author Page on Facebook

Melissa and I sort of run on fumes most days, as we are hopeless multitaskers, spinning multiple plates in the air at all times.

Happy October! I sadly looked on as all my peers shared photos of their children at various pumpkin patches across the country – and wondered when the hell it became a tradition or a mandated thing that upon crossing over into the month of October, Pumpkin Patch children photos MUST BE TAKEN! AND SHARED!!

Anyway, this month we see two themes: Dr. Jeff Toney PhD’s EPIPHANY and Paul Beckman’s It began in an elevator…

Melissa and I, a few months ago, both wrote to these themes as a workshop. I’m starting to think we should share, what do you think?


Cheers, guys,

peace and love,

Kelly Fitzharris Coody


18 Replies to “What Makes Someone a “Real Writer” Any More Than, Well, You? – Kelly Fitzharris Coody, Editor in Chief”

  1. Congratulations on your book, Kelly, and I appreciate you and your staff. As I work as a columnist and social media manager for Five 2 (with other duties here and there) for free–and the chance to build my bio and author presence–I know a lot of work goes into a lit magazine. Before I volunteered to co-edit a group anthology and to do my column, I didn’t understand the extensive work it takes to edit and produce. Thanks to all of you for your commitment and passion to help emerging authors be heard.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you’ll find that us men ain’t the over confident bulls. We just don’t express feelings of uncertainty as much (at all?). I am a confident, tough, mouthy & possibly even arrogant bastard (all force field, had to be like that for survival) in many aspects of my life, but in writing I often feel unsure, as I am uneducated & dyslexic & often feel unsure next to educated writers, but I would never say it out loud. Oh shit I just did! But seriously, I think men just have more confidence/bravado on the surface, but maybe not underneath?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is an interesting point regarding confidence/bravado. We have such opposite reactions. I think that women often feel like all of our confidence has to be beneath the surface. If we’re too confident, it seems to threaten other people. I’m not afraid to say to you that I freakin’ love everything I write. I think it’s brilliant and should be in print all over the place. But if I said that anywhere but here, in this open discussion, I would be burned at the stake. In that regard, I don’t know what I’m more afraid of, being vulnerable with my writing, or being honest that I’m really proud of what I’ve done. And I think that’s a damn shame.


  3. One of my favorite authors Jodi Picoult compared writing a book to giving birth. She said it normally takes her 9 months to write a book so she compares it to being pregnant because you care and nurture your writing for those 9 months. You pray and hope that it turns out great and that nothing goes wrong. Also like meeting your new baby after birth you don’t know how it is going to turn out. Jodi is a mother and describes her writing like this because she writes her stories without knowing the ending before it happens. Kelly has been writing this story since 2010. That’s a long time coming for her books’ “birth.” I give her all the credit in the world for putting her project in the “lime light” to be reviewed and judged. It can’t be easy. I am also so happy to see all of the positivity she has been receiving from the SLM community. It warms my heart to know that we are like a family in that way.


    Liked by 3 people

  4. It is funny I don’t feel nervous so much about people reading my work, with the exception of one or two pieces because they are so personal they still make my ears blush when I read them! I think this comment actually makes me more nervous because I don’t have a truck load of confidence in my own thoughts but with poetry it can be said and then done and dusted. Writing is one of the easiest ways for me to communicate. As for the women versus men question I think it is possible men feel just the same. My partner is an intelligent man and refuses point blank to write anything creatively because he thinks that would be weird and he didn’t think he would have anything to say. Kind of strange to think writing is foreign to some people. As for the point of the article, I don’t look much into it but often say if you write then you are, indeed, a writer. Sick Lit have published a few of my stories that I thought were unpublishable because they had been rejected quite a few times. It shows that it all depends on the editor and readers, respectively.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. @crsmith2016 I think that’s a fantastic question, re: women feeling afraid for people to read what they wrote versus men feeling the same way. I would love to have some manly input with that.

    Having someone read what I write is really personal. It’s like inviting a stranger to come into my house, sit on the bed, and have coffee with me. Like, I’m counting on you not to strangle me or be mad that my sheets are slightly untucked, but I like this coffee and my bed is kind of cozy, so come talk with me for a while. It’s just inviting someone much closer to me than I’m used to, and hoping for the best. Writing is easily the weirdest thing I’ve ever done.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m of the school of thought that if you don’t ask you may never know, so I contacted a couple of writer friends. Both men admitted to feelings of anxiety when submitting work. I guess it’s because all writers are looking for approval; a justification, if you like. To be honest, it’s very rare to see a bad or nasty comment, the majority of people are very generous, I find.

      With regard to rejection, sometimes it’s just being in the right place at the right time. Editors often seem to pick a theme and if your piece doesn’t fit it won’t be accepted. Doesn’t mean it’s no good, there’s a home for it somewhere.

      I like the diversity of work on SLM. It’s all really well written and I love the way it’s presented. Both Kelly and Melissa are doing a great job.


  6. This letter made me think of something that sort of applies here. I really chafe at the idea of someone else telling me what I like. That is to say, I don’t want some editor deciding that other people wouldn’t like my work, and I surely don’t want one telling another writer that I won’t like his or hers. I will fully admit that I am not a poetry reader. It goes over my head and I have a hard time investing in it (The only notable exception is “Crowded Tub” by Shel Silverstein.) But I understand that just because I don’t like something, because it’s not my personal tastes, doesn’t make it something that has no merit to someone else. I bought a literary magazine a few weeks ago that has a creative non-fiction story about a woman who abused/was abused by a mentally disabled man when she was younger. I couldn’t find the tiniest amount of enjoyment in reading this story, but to know that it won some kind of prize, I was flummoxed. “Who are these people?” I asked. But the truth is that that story is someone’s cup of tea, even if it’s completely the opposite of anything I would want to read for myself. It goes both ways, though. That story would have never made it past my desk if I were an editor, but it’s clearly a great story to someone else. It’s all so subjective.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.

      – Pablo Picasso

      There may be as many answers to “What is art?” as there are people on the planet. Each artist seeks validation, and that’s the rub. My modest explorations into writing as art, writing as necessity, writing as passion, have been bounced back countless by editors using template responses – “your work doesn’t fit,” a robotic response to something very human. Surely we can do better, and I applaud SLM for their efforts to make publishing more humane.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I completely agree, Jeffrey. I was fully prepared by all of my research to have publication be akin to a root canal, but the way things are run here at SLM really validates for me that what some other magazines consider a “good” story is just one person’s opinion. While it’s still just one person’s opinion here (two, technically) it’s obvious when you read that Kelly and Melissa work to be open minded about what they approve, rather than try to cram everything into this tiny box or be cast overboard entirely. I appreciate the diversity because, as a reader it makes me feel welcomed. As a writer, it makes me feel valued.

        Liked by 3 people

  7. Hi Kelly! Had my copy of Unhinged delivered today, looking forward to reading. I’ll be carting it around everywhere in my bag so I can dip into it whenever I have a spare minute. Also, I love that the writings not too small, makes it much easier on my tired eyes.

    How long did it take you to write?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d imagine it’s quite scary having so many people reading your work. I know I worry when people read mine, and that’s only on a very small scale compared to yours. It must be nerve racking waiting for the reviews to come in.
        I’ll read fast.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. “I’d imagine it’s quite scary having so many people reading your work. ” Oof, this gets me, too. Sometimes I’m curious how many people have read my story, but then I think about how much pressure it would be to know that many sets of eyes are on what I do and I just move to the corner of the room and suck my thumb. For as much as I would like for many people to enjoy my writing, the idea of “fame” is terrifying.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. It’s funny, you write all these thoughts down because you have to do something with them – and you want to share – but then you shudder at the idea of someone reading them. Writers are a funny lot! I often wonder if it’s just women who feel like this, or do men feel the same?

          Liked by 3 people

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