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interview: kat muscat, voiceworks editor

It’s less than two weeks until our One Night Stand with Voiceworks! This week we interviewed Editor Kat Muscat about young writers, indie publishing and what Voiceworks is looking for.

Voiceworks in two words?
Here 2 Stay (see what I did there?).

Why should we read Voiceworks – what makes it so awesome?
All of the things! For starters, we publish, pay ($100 a pop) and provide feedback for Australian writers and artists under 25. So even if it was a boring magazine it would be worth supporting. But the thing is that it’s also a straight-up good read. Each issue features fiction, poetry, nonfiction and visual art from outstanding fledgling and emerging artists. Every contribution is edited collaboratively with the writer by the editorial committee or myself. This not only ensures all content is of the highest standard, but also provides valuable industry experience. Also, all submissions receive individual feedback (no small feat) so it’s win-win.

What are you looking for in submissions to Voiceworks?
There’s no prescriptive approach to ‘winning’ at Voiceworks. We publish a huge variety of content each quarter—the magazine is flexible enough to capitalise on the strengths of each round. So there’s no strict house style, in terms of subject. EdComm and myself love publishing things that we would want to read but probably wouldn’t find anywhere else. More generally, if it’s solid writing on a compelling topic, we want to read it.
When it comes to genre, nonfiction is probably the trickiest, as Voiceworks doesn’t publish academic essays or traditional journalism. We’ve attempted to address this on the website but really, the best thing to do is read what we’ve previously included. Remember that nonfic isn’t all serious business or strictly factual. We love creative nonfic and more humorous approaches. For example, in the last issue we had a piece by Scott Ford entitled ‘Emerging Adulthood; or So Your Best Friend is dating a Dickhead’ which engaged with the changing values of what it means to be all-growed-up within the context of a mate’s bf being a ‘nightmare’.
As a tiny sidenote, every editor’s bugbear is when people don’t read the submission guidelines. Please make sure you take a gander and follow them before emailing me.

Why independent publishing?
It’s so important to support media that doesn’t have an agenda or bottom line to factor into decision making. If Voiceworks had to worry about money—beyond being a sustainable publication I mean—we wouldn’t be able to focus on what we feel is really important. And that is developing and legitimising the work of young writers, through providing feedback, editing experience and paying them for their work. It also gives us greater freedom in what we do publish. The Board of Express Media has never blocked a contribution due to content (and we’ve had some pretty controversial stuff over the years) which is just wonderful, to be so supported. So if we feel a story or article is important, then it’s in. That’s a pretty cool way to operate.

Have you got any advice to share with prospective young writers and editors?
Get involved. Everyone has the capacity to squirrel away the first chapter of their groundbreaking novel in the bottom dresser draw, but it won’t get you anywhere.  Instead, volunteer at writers’ festivals and meet people your own age who’re still figuring it out too (while getting into events for free!). Go to readings and watch writers you admire get gloriously drunk. When submitting to publications be protective of your meaning but not precious with the nuts and bolts. Subscribe to and read the magazines and journals you want to see your name in. Become a member of Express Media—it’s free and they’ll keep you up to date with a huge range of opportunities. Last but certainly not least, come to the one-off joint launch of Voiceworks and Lip. This one night literary stand is gunna be an affair you don’t wanna miss. 

Want more? Read our very own Lip Editor-in-chief Zoya Patel’s interview over on the Voiceworks blog!


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