Sunday, October 26, 2008

A few words for Storyteller

I recently received some sad news: Storyteller, Canada’s Short Story Magazine, has ceased publication.

I discovered Storyteller back in 1999, through the summer program at The Humber School for Writers. My class had workshopped a story I’d written based on Yellowknife’s Ugly Truck and Dog Contest. Consensus was that it was entertaining. The problem was that my writing leans more towards the popular than the literary, which limits my publication options in Canada.

“Try Storyteller,” said classmate Joan Boswell.

So I did. Not only did they accept “The Ugly Truck and Dog Contest,” publisher Terry Tyo phoned to see why they hadn’t heard of me until that point. I explained that I was just starting to send out stories, but that they would continue to hear from me.

And they did. Over the years they published six of my stories. “The Prospector’s Trail” was re-published in a textbook for high school students, after the editors found it in Storyteller. The cover art for the Winter 2001 edition of the magazine featured Herb, a character in my story “Bug Bites.”

I know it’s important for organizations to be able to articulate the impact they have on others. Sometimes it helps with funding, sometimes it helps build partnerships, sometimes it just helps to carry on. So a few years ago I sent a thank-you e-mail to Terry and editor Melanie Fogel. This is some of what I said:

"Whenever I have a story published in Storyteller, I have no qualms about showing the magazine to my friends and colleagues. It is a nicely designed publication that consistently contains well-chosen, professionally edited stories. Many people take me more seriously as a writer once they see the quality of the magazine.

"I believe that my writing has improved over the past three or four years because of my association with Storyteller. Melanie’s coaching was essential in turning 'The NWT Yeti' into a publishable story. The lessons I learned on that re-write have stuck with me. Likewise, the edits she’s requested on subsequent stories show me where things tend to go off the rails."

I've remained a subscriber to Storyteller over the years, and have enjoyed the work of all the contributors. Their stories were entertaining and accessible.

So thanks again to Terry and Melanie, and all the other folks who have kept Storyteller running since 1994. It was a great magazine, and I will miss it.