In discussing the anthology with a local writer yesterday, I was asked what I would hope to see in submissions to the TRIBE anthology. This is what I came up with. For now. I'm sure I will think of more later, which I will add as it occurs to me.
A hard quality to describe, but it is about the 'hum' left after I've finished reading. It could be about something I know nothing about or have little experience with. But I want to be left with a buzz of emotional recognition, an ache that stays with me for a while. It's something to do with the piece being about 'more about than it's about' - sharing a broader world view than just the simple words or information on the page.
I need to be assured of the writer's skill and confidence. To get the sense that the craft means as much to them as it does to me. That every word has been weighed and tested.
I've judged contests. Published a literary journal. Screened dozens of submissions in a short time. And I am always looking for work that has an original, clear and authentic voice. Another element that's hard to describe. But think about the difference between Bach, Beethoven and Bartok. Each leaves a different impression on your ear, and in your heart. A writer's voice is often the element that convinces me to keep reading, even if the idea or story does not grab me right away. Two of my favourite books are Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer. Each conveys a different compelling subject and writing style. And each book rings with a clear, original and authentic voice that can easily be distinguished and differentiated.
And speaking of Voice. I was staying in Washington DC in November 1994. The day after Richard Nixon's funeral I read this Washington Post column about the event. I've kept a copy of the piece in my files for years, and while I remember few of the actual words or phrases David von Drehle used, the tone and voice of the piece has stayed with me ever since.
If you're interested in submitting work to other anthologies, here is a selection of websites that post calls for submissions: