Though her "day job" is as director of development for Mentor St. Louis, Jackie Jones considers herself a writer. What's more, she thinks a lot of other folks who aren't capital-W Writers (in that they don't make their living writing or maybe haven't even been published anywhere) should be able to see themselves as writers, too. It's one of the reasons she founded Socket Press, a new literary journal that should hit the streets early next year.
And when Jones says "hit the streets," she means it. No exclusive, gilt-paged, highbrow specs are in store for the fledgling publication. "I want to bring literature back to the level where more people can feel more able to enjoy it," Jones says. "There are plenty of people who write, but who don't feel good enough to be published or they don't feel like the know the 'right' people." Her own experience with the local literary scene which she finds somewhat elitist, "in that you have these little readings and small groups of people who will go to them, who all seem to know each other already" led her craving something more authentic.
Socket Press (see, it's like an outlet, get it?) will be a free publication, distributed in local cafés and shops, with a stylized, edgy look. Though Jones has enlisted the help of a few friends for editorial functions, the journal "is definitely my baby!" she says. It's an idea she's mulled over a lot, since her undergraduate career as an English major who was eventually "badgered by the parents to switch to something that had the possibility of making money." (That something was a degree in advertising and marketing, although Jones is having the last word now, returning to school to get a B.A. in English).
In terms of content, Socket Press will be wide-ranging: Jones is encouraging genres from poetry and short stories to reviews and thought pieces, in order to cultivate an aura of surprise around each issue. "I hope people will pick it up when they see it because although you will never know exactly what you're going to find, you will find something of interest." Free-form content, though, doesn't imply a lackadaisical approach to quality; Jones and her editorial team will be looking for good writing, clarity of thought and pieces that have something to say that the general population might want to read. "Which means," she says, "that we probably won't be running pieces on cell biology, even if they're well-written." Maintaining quality is key, because writers will only value being published among peers of equal or better quality.
As with any new venture, the beginning is proving a hump of some resistance; not the smallest concern is a need for even more submissions for the first issue.
Submissions are accepted on a rolling-deadline basis; send your pieces for consideration to Socket Press at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail to 4955 Magnolia Ave., St. Louis, MO, 63139.
Amanda Doyle is the editor of TheCommonspace.org, another proponent of bringing good writing to the people.