For a couple of months now there has been a young woman selling the Big Issue magazine outside my local supermarket. Small shop on the High Street, you know the kind of thing. During these months my feelings towards her have spun out of control, from rational to downright, certifiably crazy. And I ask myself why?
Clever plots are fine, but it's the characters that bring a story to life. It's the characters that we get emotionally involved with, and which we are likely to remember most when the story's over. So how do you create characters that are memorable, feel like real people, and who stand out not just from those in similar stories but from their fellow cast members in the world they inhabit?
With the women's weeklies collectively publishing dozens of stories every week, they provide a ready market for any aspiring fiction writer to get in print and earn decent fees while writing about whatever subjects turn them on. Writing for the womags isn't an easy option, however. They have exacting standards.
If you want to try blogging, set up a blog. If you want to journal, journal. If you want to submit something to a magazine without much writing experience, do it! If you want to spend the next few years writing a book, do that. You don't need to be published to be a writer and you don't need to have been published in order to get published.
It was the best work experience I've ever had, and if there's anything I've learnt it is to talk to as many people as possible, be confident, kind, and invest in a packet of biscuits. I felt so privileged to have been offered such a rare insight to working life and each day I left the office happy, driven and ready for more!
Anyone with a vested interest in rock music or journalism, or even, God forbid, the product of a sordid union between the two, will know who Mick Wall is. He made his name on Sounds magazine in the late 70's, wrote for Kerrang! throughout the 80's heyday of heavy metal, and was a founding editor of Classic Rock in the 90s.
They're not a daily newspaper but a niche weekly magazine assumed by all to appeal only to a young demographic? Many of the commentariat think not. And there is certainly an argument that NME's readership is teenagers who, unlike Evening Standard fans, are not going to pick up a free copy to read on their commute to work.
Just as we were thinking about launching a magazine independently, financed by maxed out credit cards and money found down the back of the sofa, it seemed that suddenly we could slug it out with the big boys and girls on an almost even playing ground. We would be able to get to our niche audience via the magic of the internet.