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Happy Literary?

By Angela W. Schultz

Zero. That’s how many women have admitted to being happy so far in response to this post. And should we expect anything different? After all, Segullah blog is associated with a literary journal. And aren’t literary types usually depressed?

The Segullah staff has discussed this issue many times. We are well aware of our, ahem, literary obligation to be morose. We recognize that many writers with a literary bent spend at least some (and often considerable) time exploring the dark side of human experience. And we even like some of their writing. Raw essays can be stunningly beautiful. At times they move us in a ways that literary chicken soup just can’t. But as individuals, and as a publication, we are also committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We believe that women are that they might have joy.

So is Mormon literature an oxymoron?

We don’t think so. In our efforts to reconcile these issues, the Segullah staff has developed a vision of the kinds of pieces we want to publish—works that are both literary and joyful, and today I want to share it with you. There are two categories that interest us. The first is “faithful probing.” The second is “happy literary.” And the key word for both categories is truth.

First, “faithful probing.” We welcome writing that addresses unresolved struggles from a perspective of faith, pieces like this and this. The edge that comes with strong emotions and real struggle can be artistically impressive. More importantly, though, the truth in these pieces speaks to us spiritually, validating us in our challenges and giving weight to our victories. We believe that sharing our stories, even stories in which the healing and the learning aren’t finished, reminds us that we are not alone and helps us find strength to finish the race.

But please, don’t exaggerate the negative. We’ll still like you, even if you didn’t have a dysfunctional childhood. Honest.

We also like happy writing—a whole range of it. We publish writing that is fun, pieces like this and this. And we love pieces about joy. The spiritually sublime is the heart of what we are here to share. Check out this, and this. We call it happy literary. It’s complex, beautiful, and most of all, real.

Once again, there is a catch. We need your writing to be authentic–no added sugar, no artificial sweeteners.

So, now that you know what we’re looking for, start writing. We’re excited to read your story. And that’s the truth.

About Angela W. Schultz

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16 thoughts on “Happy Literary?”

  1. I've been thinking about changing my story for Kathy's motherhood-stories collection to one of happiness…instead of the despairing inner dialogue I have been thinking about for the last few months. I think it might do me some good. 🙂

    But what if my happy isn't original?

  2. What, gloop isn't real?

    Power, in life or in writing, comes from truth. We all have our probing faithful moments (days, weeks, months…). I think acknowledging that is what changes happiness to joy.

  3. I know it's been said that the smarter you are, the more serious/less happy you are. It might be true, who knows. All I know is that, just like Angie said, I have to speak power to truth. Truth for me is my joy and my happiness. I suppose I may not be academic or intellectual, but darn it, I am true to myself.

    And, I think one can write from that place and still speak powerfully (or maybe I'm just terribly arrogant — possible).

  4. Two very happy writers I have had the chance of reading lately are James Herriott and Alexander McCall Smith. Joyful! But that doesn't mean that they are sappy in the least.

    I do think that one issue that Mormon writers come up against is the fact that they (we?) are by training somewhat reticent. There are things they don't talk about. And I don't just mean temple–I mean lots of valuable spiritual insights, which are, nonetheless, personal. So sometimes a kind of artificial sappiness tries to make up for the hesitation to really put the truth down on paper.

    I think that the more intelligent–somewhat different than "smart"–a person is, the happier he or she is. But it's not the loud laughter kind. Justine is very right–Truth IS Joy.

  5. I'm inspired. A friend shared Segullah with me and what a gift! The essays and poetry are so well-crafted and uplifting. I want to be a part of it! I appreciate the tips Kathy posted and what you've said about truth and authenticity. I'm not sure what kind of contribution I can make, but I'm excited to try.

    I guess the other element that's important is courage. I agree with Heidi that it's sometimes hard to share personal insights–especially when they reveal our weaknesses. It's also a little frightening to consider how your writing will be received.

    One more thing, you moms out there? Is it possible to write without cutting into your sleep or having your house deteriorate? I'm not always the most disciplined person, so I wonder how others make the time. (Hope it's not rude of me to ask questions in the comments section.)

  6. Orson Scott Card said that there are only two things anyone needs to become a writer: a big ego and a supportive spouse. I've got the spouse (and probably the ego). I can only write if someone else has prime responsibility for the kids (can't even do it during nap time). Hubby gives me one night a week to write, and sometimes time on Saturdays. I'm spoiled, I know.

  7. Jennifer,
    We have lots of editors here! I'm looking forward to reading your submission.

    I sometimes get a little nervous when I publish something personal. Sharing our hearts is a gift, and there is always that moment of wondering how the gift will be recieved. My experience is that it usually uplifts both the giver and the recipient. Here's a longer version of that: http://www.segullah.org/spring2005/bald.html

    I write in bits and pieces, as life allows. Somtimes it cuts into my sleep. Sometimes my house deteriorates. It's still worth it.


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