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Better journal

Discussion in 'Wooden Canoe Journal' started by Larry Meyer, Dec 17, 2020.

  1. Larry Meyer

    Larry Meyer Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    As someone who has written for Wooden Canoe and read it a long time, I have opinions about it. I have eagerly awaited it, moderately enjoyed it, and been indifferent to its arrival in equal measure. When new editorial direction premiered in a recent edition I was ready to deploy my battery of opinions on the resulting product.

    My first impression of the first edition was very critical. I was seeing a lot of styling changes, but not much substance. I am a word guy. I would take literate bathroom graffiti over mundane English in engraved copperplate every time. Therefore I hold the first duty of an editor is to cultivate good writers. Handsome font and lay-out won’t overcome pedestrian text. It just coddles the eye along to the next text. I’m afraid my first impression of the new Wooden Canoe was just that.

    I recall the end of my short career writing a bit for AMC Outdoors. Editors changed and they were urged to produce a magazine geared to a more youthful readership, a readership that didn’t want to read. Two to three paragraph pieces with lots of panache awash in informational pablum. Expertise was out. It was off-putting.

    The most recent Wooden Canoe has achieved a better mean. There was stuff in it I found myself wanting to read. I see my old buddy Steve Lapey has been drafted to contribute a regular column on woodcraft. As someone who has earned some money writing I marvel that Steve, whose prose has not been infected by academia or professional communication training, has the nub of Hemingway-esque prose in him. There is not a wasted word or obscure meaning in his text. I lingered over another text mentioning John McPhee. That name will catch a word guy’s attention. Literary click-bait. The piece on dug-out canoes also had enough teases to hold my eye.

    So the point I am making is I am a bit more hopeful about the new direction of Wooden Canoe. Now that format has been upgraded, attend to my first dictum – cultivate good writers. Of course that is a two-way street. Writers have to try. No one should be promised column inches. Punch the text up. Tell stories, introduce characters, craft a plot, induce a laugh. As Mark Twain said, go for lightning, not the lightning bug.
    Benson Gray likes this.

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