Thursday, 18 June 2009

Fashionistas & mag writers

Anyone been following BBC2's Mary Queen of Charity Shops? Mary Portas who put Harvey Nicks on the fashion map was given the task of dragging the UK's charity shops into this century by getting better quality donations. Easier said than done what with EBay being the best place to off-load last season's Nicole Farhi - or, as in my case, George at Asda.

Anyway, Ms Portas managed to increase one shop's sales above and beyond anyone's expectations, despite the volunteers (average aged 105, favourite saying:'We Don't Like Change, pass the custard creams, Ethel') trying everything to sabotage her efforts.

Out went the staple of all charity shops - the threadbare Teddies, the 'present from Cleethorpes' spill vases (who uses spills these days? What are spills?) and the incomplete jigsaws. In their place came up-to-the-minute designer fashion, hand-made shoes and even a Jimmy Choo handbag.

The shop's turnover more than doubled and continues to draw in younger people - a much needed customer base. And all this got to me thinking about magazine editors/writers...well, of course it did, this is a blog about writing remember!

Since I've been writing for the womags I've seen a few editors come and go as some of the mags upped their fiction specials or indeed, ditched their fiction slots altogether. And the writers? I was talking to someone the other day (a newbie womagger) who was complaining that it wasn't very fair of the eds to choose the same writers every week/month. Why couldn't they give the newcomers a chance?

I think they do give newbies a fair stab, but the writers who've been doing it for years know their markets very, very well! They also know they have stiff competition from the newbies, so it's in their interests to up their game and keep abreast of what the readers want.

I've been writing for the mags for 7 years now and I'd be doing myself no favours by churning out the same stuff as I did all those years ago. That isn't to say I don't sometimes dig out an old story and edit it with the purpose of re-selling it but I'll look at it closely and ask myself 'Is this plot/setting/dialogue relevant nowadays?' Times change and so must our writing.

Here endeth today's sermon ;0)

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