David Bright of Gemini Magazine advises
us how to write pieces that get noticed
and published

Posted by Judy Darley March 23, 2010

David Bright is the founder and editor of Gemini Magazine, an
online publication that aims to seek out and publish new talented
writers, from poets and short story writers to completely new
media writers. He explains how he admires writers who ”paint the
picture in a confident, clear, forceful way.”

What is the motivation behind Gemini Magazine?

I wanted to find great writing - and publish it!

The original idea was to use The New Yorker as a rough model -
just not quite as formal, and more heavily weighted toward fiction,
with some poetry (the direct, clear, non-cryptic kind) and creative
nonfiction. I love the cover art of The New Yorker.

Unfortunately, they don’t prominently display it on their online
version. With Gemini Magazine we stay with the big cover art
theme even though some might say it uses up valuable screen
space. Simplicity, clarity, an easy-on-the-eyes presentation
combined with compelling writing - that’s the whole idea of Gemini.

How did you come to launch the magazine?

Well, I’d been talking about this for a while - even had some false
starts - and friends started nagging me: “Hey, how about that
Gemini Magazine? When are we going to see it?” So I just did it:
called up Yahoo and set up the website. That was last April, and I
barely slept or ate for the next six months. I’m so glad I finally
made the move. Thank you, nagging friends!

What is your professional background?

I wrote about the computer industry for Computerworld, a weekly
newspaper, and for a trade magazine put out by Cahners
Publishing. I did some freelancing for the Boston Herald, Woman’s
World and elsewhere. My favorite assignment was an article about
wineries for a travel magazine - free samples!

When big companies started downsizing in the nineties, I opened
a resume writing service and I think we did resumes for half the
people in Massachusetts.

I’ve also run a reintegration program for ex-convicts, worked for
the post office (too much like jail) and read meters for the electric
company.

How do you think Gemini differs from other literary
magazines?

There’s a lot of really good literary magazines out there - Ducts,
Dead Mule, Rosebud, Dogzplot, to name a few - and I enjoy
reading them. When I read submissions to Gemini it’s like I’m
panning for gold. No one else could possibly find nuggets of the
same size, shape, quality and assortment.

And once I find these gold nuggets I work really hard to showcase
them. I also believe Gemini has a friendly, welcoming feel which I
hope will attract even more good writing and continue to attract
enthusiastic readers.

What do you look for in a submission?

It’s all subjective. There’s no checklist or anything. The pieces we
pick all have a certain “something” that makes them special.

If I’m still thinking about a short story or poem a week or two
after I’ve read it, then it will probably be published. Other pieces
that are tightly written and technically have nothing wrong with
them may vanish from memory almost instantly. I have to be
excited about a piece in order to accept it. “Okay” isn’t good
enough. It has to be special, and like I said, it’s all subjective.

Do you write short stories or poetry yourself?

Yes. I write mostly short stories, some poetry, and do lots of
journaling, some of which has turned into published pieces. I feel
fortunate to have been published in literary magazines like
flashquake, Ascent, Café Irreal and The Iconoclast.

What are the most challenging aspects of editing
Gemini Magazine?

Sometimes I have to force myself to take a break. I’m just totally
immersed in this, and it’s virtually turned into a 24/7 obsession.

I find myself saying, I’ll just read one more submission, but after
that, of course, it’s one more again and again. I’ll just read one
more paragraph, one more page… this can go on and on until you
look at the clock and it’s almost time to get up but you haven’t
gone to bed yet.

On a regular job you keep watching the clock, and it moves too
slow. As editor of Gemini, though, I’ve got so much to do I try to
just will that clock to move more slowly. Line-by-line editing can
be a tedious challenge, but you’ve got to set high standards and
do it as well as you can. The end result is worth it.

Rejecting someone’s work is also challenging - and usually a bit
painful for me. Even when I’m saying “no thank you” to a writer I
usually try to mention some positive aspect of the work as well.
Again, this takes time, but I think it’s the right thing to do.

What do you enjoy most about it?

Finding - and reading and rereading - those nuggets of gold is an
incredible rush. The excitement builds and builds as we go through
the editing process.

The last page I set up is the cover page, and as it gets closer and
closer to completion the excitement is almost too much to bear as
I realise that very, very soon the world will see what I see - this
great writing (and art) that I’ve been living with the past few
weeks or longer. And then…at last…I click the yellow “Publish”
button.

Whose writing do you admire?

Everyone should read Graham Joyce’s “An Ordinary Soldier of the
Queen” in the 2009 O. Henry Prize Stories. Such an easy,
conversational, regular-guy voice that makes you believe the
unbelievable.

I love Richard Ford’s un-arrogant, self-deprecating style that
makes you instantly identify with his characters. Aurora M. Lewis -
whose poems have appeared in Gemini - pick any one of her
poems and it’s just so full of passion and so clear and bold that
you wonder how she does it. Going back a bit, we have Richard
Yates (”Revolutionary Road”), Wallace Stevens, Martha Gellhorn,
Chekhov, Kafka, de Maupassant.

I think what all those writers have in common is simplicity: they
don’t try to hit you over the head with big words; instead, they
just paint the picture in a confident, clear, forceful way.

What inspires you?

Life inspires me, the world around me. The idea of describing
something in a creative, non-linear way, kind of like colourful
analogue vs. dry digital. I see movies in my head, and it’s fun to
share them with other people. And Gemini is a good way of
sharing other people’s ‘movies’ with the world.

What advice would you offer an aspiring writer?

Write without fear. Don’t be afraid of writing something that may
seem stupid or trite or embarrassing, because if you don’t take
chances nothing will happen.

And those words you thought were stupid may not be so stupid
after all - just different, and creative, and creative is what we
want. If the words don’t work you can just edit them out later. I’ve
met a lot of people who claim they want to be writers someday.
Well, what’s stopping you, besides yourself? Just pick up the pen
and write!

What comes next for Gemini Magazine?

We’ll have plenty of stories to read for our Short Story Contest,
which runs through to March 31st 2010. The winning stories will be
published in the June issue. Our Second Annual Flash Fiction
Contest starts on June 1st, and I’m thinking about a poetry
contest for the fall - fall seems like the right time for a poetry
writing competition.

And sometime in the not-too-distant future we may see a ‘Best of
Gemini‘ anthology in printed book form.
Gemini Magazine
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Interview at
EssentialWriters.com