Monday, September 17, 2012

No Subscription Necessary

Post by Jenny

My sons came home from middle school the other day with their fundraising packets. (I know. Kids and fundraisers. But what are you gonna do?) A few pages of the catalogue include gift and household items—candles, jewelry, a picture frame shaped like a flip-flop—but the rest are all magazines.

Confession: I know this is old-fashioned in some circles, but I love print magazines. I love the layouts, the photographs, turning those big pages…and tossing them in the recycle bin or handing them off to a friend when I’m done. But I love the same magazines, preferably ones about writing, food, healthy living (hey, there’s always hope), with a little science thrown in to make me feel smart.

Looking through the fundraiser list of available subscriptions was an eye-opener. I saw the usuals: The Atlantic, Time, Rolling Stone, Martha Stewart Living. But I never knew about Crappie World (the fish, people), Halftime (“features the sights, sounds, & spirit of the marching arts”), Opera News (self-explanatory, I hope), or the slightly unnerving Garden and Gun (“a celebration of Southern lifestyle at its best”). It cracked me up to think of someone coming in from the mailbox saying, “Honey, the new issue of Snow Goer for today’s active snowmobile enthusiasts is here!

After that, my thought was, who reads all these? But then I was struck (not literally, thank goodness) by what a great resource specialized magazines can be for writers looking to build characters and settings. A protagonist who subscribes to Nostalgia Magazine, for example, might be very different from one who reads Electronic House. A setting taken from English Home will not look like one in the pictures of Log Home Living.

The next time you’re at the dentist, library, or a magazine vendor, give that ubiquitous People magazine a rest and pick up something you’ve never read. Even if you think you’re not remotely interested in the topic, you may have a character in your head who disagrees in a surprising way. Perhaps your tough guy villain is even ready to let you know that he has a secret subscription to I Love Cats.

Have you found writing inspiration in magazine form?

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