SF State students, graduates publish new writers' work
October 17, 2008 3:39 PM
While many creative writing students may worry about about the future of the publishing business, some students at SF State have gathered in groups to publish their creative work and create room for the work of new writers.
Small Desk Press, Digital Artifact and Instant City are a few alternative outlets created by recent graduate and current students–-from SF State and other universities–-who say they dream of giving space to up-and-coming writers and not letting main stream publishers control their form of expression.
According to Jacob Evans, editor of Small Desk Press, most publishing companies only want to buy work from writers who have already been published at least a few times. The situation undesirable for writers with much to say, but nowhere to publish their work.
Small Desk Press was founded two years ago when Evans and two friends, also recent graduates, decided to start up a nonprofit that would help writers. As a non-profit publisher they work under the umbrella of a larger non-profit organization called Counterpulse.
“Our business model relies on fundraising,” Evans said. “We are not doing this business [for profit], our focus is on publishing and promoting emerging authors.”
Along those same lines, Digital Artifact, a web-magazine focused in fiction and prose related to the digital culture, was also founded two years ago. Amanda Davidson, an SF State graduate student and one of the editors for the magazine talked about the possibilities the Internet can bring to a writer. She said numerous alternative outlets, beyond blogging, can publish writers' works.
“I hope a lot more people start publishing their own work," Davidson said. "Publishing online is a great way to do it,”
Davidson spoke fondly of her experience as a creative writing major at SF State. The creative writing department, she says, provides her with an artistic outlet and way to network with other writers.
Maxine Chernoff, chair of the creative writing department said the publishing outlets formed by students have been great teaching and networking tools to the department. Chernoff said they are a great way for students to have their work published and to view the work of other students.
Don Menn, journalism teacher and MFA student in creative writing at SF State said most universities tend to focus on classic literature. Menn said it is interesting to see what young writers are talking about.
“I like seeing what sort of new voices there are out there and perhaps the way young people write,” Menn said. “I think one way most programs fail is showing what is really, really new.”
SF State's creative writing department has recently taught from a couple of books published by Small Desk Press. Ali Lawrence, an SF State graduate who earned both a bachelor's degree and MFA in the department, has had his book, Anantomic, studied in some classes. And Dustin Heron, a current SF State student had the honor of reading from his book Paradise Stories to one of the department's classes.
Lawrence said having her book published helped reassure herself that she should be a writer and a sign that the program at SF State helped her build the relationships needed to get her first book published.
“The program has a lot of resources but it is up to the student to really tap in to it,” Lawrence said.
Even though SF State students must have a publishable thesis to graduate with an MFA, the department doesn’t publish nor guarantees the publishing of their work. This leaves it up to the student to find an agent and a publisher. Smaller outlets, especially those formed by students or recent graduate can be a start to emerging writers.
Both Digital Artifact and Small Desk Press promote readings and release events in which both writers and readers get together to celebrate literature. This month they will release one more book titled Viva Loss, written by SF State graduate student Sarah Fran Wisby.
“It is really exciting to have events with a group of people who are celebrating a book,” Evan said about their promotional events.
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