During my recent chat with Cargo’s Mark Buckland (see Publish And Be Damned: In Conversation With Mark B… ) he bemoaned the lack of opportunities for new writers to be published in Scotland, although he did see that situation slowly improving. As if to prove him right this Thursday (21st April) at Mono in Glasgow sees the showcase evening for the new literary journal Valve which has been put together by fourth year students from Strathclyde University’s Journalism and Creative Writing course. This is exactly the sort of night that anyone interested in writing should support. ‘What’s it all about Ali?’ I can just about hear you cry. To find out I thought it best to go straight to the source and ask those involved:
Scots Whay Hae! meets Valve
SWH: What is the thinking behind Valve?
V: The whole project began as a new 4th year option for Journalism and Creative Writing students at Strathclyde Uni offered by Rodge Glass (Creating a Literary Journal). As opposed to a tutor led class of lectures and seminars, the running and direction of the class was very much up to us. The minimum requirement of the class was to produce an online version of our Literary Journal, but as a group we decided that we wanted to really challenge ourselves and produce a journal we could hold in our hands and leave behind as our legacy. We originally set out with a loose theme of control, but as the project developed and the editing process began, we realised that the theme was no longer necessary, as the quality and diversity of the journal was our identity and we didn’t really need to define it in such terms. As a peer group we have overseen and directed the project ourselves from start to finish, from writing and editing, to fundraising and publicity, with the help and advice Rodge and many others have had to offer to us, and we are very proud that since January 2011 we have successfully written, edited, designed, publicised and fundraised for a project which we will be able to hold in our hands on June 16th at Waterstones, knowing that we are responsible for something unique.
SWH: It has been a collaborative project. What do you think that adds to the final publication?
V: Through out the whole process, we had two weekly meetings as an editorial board to discuss everything from content to fundraising. At these meetings it quickly became clear that everyone in the class had very different views on what they imagined for the journal, and we enjoyed a lot of debate and discussion along the way. The fact that everyone’s views were so different meant that many perspectives were available on everything from how we should publicise our journal to the content of the journal itself and this diverse mix means that our final journal is entirely unique to our peer group. The content of the journal is of the highest quality, but there is also a broad spectrum of interests and topics. Valve contains not only fiction and poetry, but non fiction pieces and illustrations. There are short stories about out of body experiences, people with OCD, moths and sex which sit alongside poems about subway stations, toothbrushes and giants and non- fiction pieces about anorexia and Hunter S Thompson. The final publication took a long time to pull together, the majority of which time was spent editing and polishing our work to the very highest standard it could be through individual editorial boards which specialised in either Fiction, Poetry or Non-Fiction. We are very proud of our finished product as it is a showcase of our class, who were are and what we have to offer.
SWH: Did you have a model in mind as a template for Valve, and how much did the style change as you progressed?
V: To begin with, we looked at other literary journals such as Gutter, and many others to get an idea of what a literary journal should be. However, we always maintained from the beginning that while we would happily use these for guidance or inspiration, we wanted something which was a bit different from the norm, and things were constantly changing throughout the process. In terms of style, our art and design team designed a logo for Valve and this became synonymous with us from the very beginning. As our fundraising efforts throughout the project were so successful, we decided to approach Freight Publishing to publish Valve, and the publishing process is currently well under way, which is new to most of us and has been a great learning experience.
SWH: What events are forthcoming involving Valve?
V: Since January, we’ve had some excellent fundraising events, including a school disco night and a ‘Ned’s v Goth’s’ night. These events were a huge success in terms of raising funds for Valve, but we are now looking forward to our showcase event which is all about raising awareness of our fantastic project. The Valve Showcase night will take place in Mono on April 21st from 7.30pm and will feature readings of fiction and poetry from several of Valve’s contributors and acoustic music. The event is free of charge, and all the contributors will be there to talk about Valve and their experiences, so we hope to attract a lot of people who are interested in this innovative project. Our final event is our launch night which will take place on June 16th in Waterstones Saucchiehall Street from 6pm! We welcome people to come along to join us in an evening of readings, drinks and mingling with the Valve team – as well as seeing Valve in the flesh for the first time! Keep up to date with events on www.facebook.com/ValveJournal or www.twitter.com/ValveJournal
SWH: Why should people read Valve?
V: Because there has never been anything like it and there never will be again! Valve is unique, groundbreaking and is a testament to the passion of each and every writer who has contributed. We are very proud to have been part of such an excellent project which has given us all a chance to try new things and contribute to something which we hope will make a long lasting impact.
Scots Whay Hae! and Valve 19/04/2011