The unweekly herding: toast and fresh pastures

…so where was I? Oh yes, this writing malarkey. I took a break from it recently in order to dedicate more time to eating toast while staring out windows. That’s been going pretty well, so I feel I can now turn my attentions back to my Google Docs. Can’t say I’m too thrilled with what I find there, but maybe one of these days I’ll open up a file and be pleasantly surprised.

I’ve got to be honest, my writing progress has not been good so far this year. It’s a combination of things, partly hibernation, partly due to a steady stream of rejections (a trend broken just in the past week by two lovely journal acceptances – hurrah!).

Getting kickstarted

So what to do about the writing doldrums? Well, I’ve been trying to get back on track by any means. Firstly, I’ve been following an online course called the Couch to 80k Writing Boot Camp. Compiled by writer, comedian and creative writing teacher Tim Clare, it consists of daily exercises designed to get you writing, one brief assignment at a time. I’m three weeks into it at the moment and finding it helpful. Even if I only write for the 10 minutes prescribed in each episode, I feel I’ve done something at least. And every exercise can potentially spark a great idea. Even better, it’s free! When/if I finish the full eight-week programme, I’ll report back in greater detail. In the meantime, here’s episode 1 if you’d like to give it a listen:

Submission opportunities

I’m also keeping an eye out for competitions and journals to submit work to. This forces me to a) return to the stories in those disappointing Google files and try to finally finish some of them or b) write something new, for heaven’s sake.

To that end, here are some journals I’ve come across that are currently open for submissions. As always, it’s a pretty random collection because I’m flighty that way. For a more comprehensive list of publications and upcoming contests, you should check out Dublin poet Angela Carr’s brilliant monthly round-up on A Dreaming Skin, as well as Paul McVeigh’s always excellent blog.

Something for the curious

It isn’t open just yet, but Scottish literary journal Firewords will shortly have a brief submission window for their 10th issue. Between March 22-29, you can submit short stories of up to 2,000 words, flash fiction pieces under 400 words and up to three poems. The issue is loosely themed ‘Curiosity’, but the editors say they are equally happy to consider work that falls outside that description.

Margo Collective has put out a call for submissions to an anthology called Chains: Unheard Voices, celebrating a centenary since women got the vote. Editors Hannah and Magda (no surnames and their profile pics are most mysterious) say, “A hundred years ago, women were chaining themselves to the grille partition that kept them separate and ‘out of the way’ at the House of Commons. So, in light of this, we want to read compelling interpretations on the theme of chains from the unheard voices of today. We’re hungry for your stories on the theme of chains in whatever capacity that might be. Whether it’s your gender, age, location, race, sexuality, we want to expose the truth of your individual worlds.” Word count should be 2,500-3,000 words and the closing date is March 29. Successful writers will be paid a flat fee for their work (the website doesn’t specify how much). 

New bi-monthly magazine The Bangor Literary Journal is currently inviting submissions for issue 2. Send up to two flash fiction pieces of max 200 words each, or 1-2 poems of max 40 lines long. Unlike issue 1, there is no set theme this time around and you have until March 31 to send them your finest words. The first issue is online here if you want to get a feel for the sort of work they seek.

Anything to confess? Get it off your chest in 500 words or less

DNA magazine has extended their issue 4 submission deadline to April 13. The theme for this issue is ‘Lies & Confession’, however you wish to interpret that. You can submit flash non-fiction pieces of up to 500 word, poems of max 30 lines or 144-character Twitterature (nope, I don’t know what that is either, I was hoping you could enlighten me) to All the details are here.

And finally, HCE Review is a quarterly online journal produced by the creative writing department at University College Dublin (the HCE part is a nod to James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake). Volume 2, issue 3 is currently open for submissions until April 15. They accept fiction and creative non-fiction of up to 3,000 words, poems of max 50 lines each. And you don’t have to be an alumnus to submit.


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