Transect Magazine: Behind the Scenes (Part III: Launch and Beyond)

Transect Logo[Read Part I in which I detail the humble beginnings of Transect, a new international literary magazine that showcases fiction (short stories, poetry) written by multiculturals/cross-culturals/TCKs from all over the world, launched by me and Alex. Read Part II in which I detail the long, arduous but fun process all the way to the launch.]

We officially launched Transect and its first issue on Friday, 31 July 2015.

It was beautiful. It is beautiful. Yes, it’s our own website which means there might be a slight bias… but it turned out far greater than we had ever imagined. And feedback was immense. People were well impressed and congratulated us on a job well done. For us, it was far from a tedious job but rather truly a passion project—it was quite possibly the proudest thing that either Alex or I had ever done, to the point where actual tears were shed.

[Issue #1: Birth] consists of 10 works of fiction—7 short stories, 3 poems—as well as 10 accompanying pieces of artwork by people representing an impressive total of 9 countries: Armenia, Finland, Ireland, Japan, Mauritius, Singapore, UK, USA, Zimbabwe! (We’ve certainly nailed the ‘international’ aspect down.)

A snippet from the introduction of [Issue #1: Birth]:

The pieces in Transect’s debut issue explore the conflicting affairs faced by those who have multiple birthplaces and experience multiple births. From arid, dusty African lands to wintry Finnish forests; from the cobbled streets of Oxford to the rainy coasts of Japan; from transitory frustrations to fleeting drama at airports—be prepared to be transported to lands beyond your imagination.

Whet your appetite? Well, what are you waiting for? Go check out [Issue #1: Birth]! You’re bound to find a story or poem that resonates and moves you, hopefully allowing you to ‘question and challenge the (un)defining importance of your very own birth.’

I’ve got to squeeze in a plug, don’t I? I wrote a story entitled Ashes in the Wind for Transect’s first issue as well, a farcical tale of a baby being born on a plane. I can’t give anything else away, but it’s short, humorous, shocking and entertaining (so people tell me!). Please read it and let me know what you thought!

Special shout-outs to the artists who contributed their gorgeous photographs/illustrations that accompany each piece. It makes the website look extremely professional and downright stunning.

It’s been such a pleasure and honour to work with everyone involved. Not once did Alex and I receive any complaints; it was full cooperation from start to finish. Thank you everyone who contributed in some way (you know who you are)—we couldn’t have done it without you, and that’s the truth.

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What makes our literary magazine unique? What makes it stand out from the rest? Well, like I mentioned in Part II, we didn’t know any lit mags dedicated to showcasing multicultural fiction. Because we embrace everything cross-cultural, one of the unique aspects of our magazine is that we allow other languages. Here’s a description from our About page:

All writings are based in Englishes, but we allow the usage and incorporation of different languages, giving multilinguals the freedom to tell their vibrant stories in various or mixed tongues.

Don’t get me wrong, this lit mag is based in Englishes. But wait, you might ask… what do you mean by ‘Englishes’? Simple. There is no more just one single defining ‘English’ anymore. In fact, the English language is being shaped more by non-native speakers than native speakers, resulting in what is known as World Englishes (read my essay explaining this fascinating phenomenon here). So yes, English is our common unifying language, our lingua franca, but we’re also not stubbornly limiting people’s writings to just British English or American English, which would defeat our very purpose of being multicultural. In fact, you can write in any form of English you want as long as you specify which one in your submission.

The stories we can tell in English are vast, but imagine how many more stories you could tell, how much more you could expand if you were able to use other languages! In this day and age, there are more multilinguals than monolinguals. I speak English and Japanese, but I also speak Japlish, a hybrid of the two. Alex speaks English and a French Creole wholly distinctive of Mauritius. All of these language forms manifest different tales.

As long as you provide translations, you’re free to include words, phrases, sentences, even paragraphs in languages other than English. What does that look like? Check out Lines of Flight (Finnish), La Naissance d’Une Langue (French), Across Rivers and Pillars (Japanese) for works in our first issue that have taken advantage of this and utilised other languages. It makes for a unique and intriguing reading experience.

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On 31 July, the day of our launch, we hit a whopping 982 views after sharing Transect widely on social networking sites and media. It’s been 18 days since our launch and we’ve passed 3,500 views! Thanks to everyone who’s shared it. We’re relying mainly on word of mouth for the lit mag to spread and gain recognition. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter, so be sure to like/follow us.

Just to point out a few highlights since our launch:

Neil Gaiman Twitter

  • Neil Gaiman, global literary superstar and one of the most prolific authors on Twitter with 2.28 million followers (and one of my favourite authors as you’d know if you read my blog because I mention and reference him all the time), gave us a retweet shout-out! Utterly astonished, couldn’t believe my eyes. Such a pleasant surprise, thanks Neil!

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  • Neon, a renowned and well-established lit mag, added us to its list of literary magazines! I’d already been indebted to its founder, Krishan Coupland, whose page on how to submit to lit mags helped me when I first started out (his invaluable advice inspired my post: ‘Submitting to Literary Magazines‘). Be sure to check out the full list for even more great lit mags.

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So what next? What future goals or ambitions do Alex and I have for Transect? Well, being completely honest, it’s not money or fame we’re chasing. I truly believe we wouldn’t have gotten this far if that was our main aim. Rather, we sincerely wish to provide an accessible platform for cross-cultural writers to showcase their fiction. That’s it. If Transect starts making profits or becomes world renowned, we’re not going to complain. But we’ll never lose sight of our original goal.

So right now, we’re planning and taking baby steps. Currently, we’re working on producing a PDF booklet of our first issue so people can download it for free. We also plan on printing a few copies to distribute to certain people who might be able to spread the word (please let me know if you’d like one and could possibly help us with our marketing efforts).

We’re currently open for submissions for our forthcoming second issue revolving around the theme of ‘Sea’. If you’re a multicultural writer or artist, do submit your cross-cultural short stories, poetry and artwork! Please read the guidelines and quote prompts for further details.

Finally, we need your help. Please spread the word about Transect. Share it on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. Share it with your friends and family and loved ones, your acquaintances and neighbours and random people you meet on the street or at the café. Share it with people who love to read, who love to write, who love all things multicultural. (Share it with people who don’t like to read and write—this might do the trick.) Share it with people whom you think should broaden their mindset and expand their worldview.

But most of all, enjoy Transect. Get lost in the stories, be mesmerised by the poems, be dazzled by the artwork. If you come away with a new perspective, feel challenged or inspired, or learn something new—we’ve done all right, we’ve done something right.

Thanks for reading!

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