At one point, as part of my writing course (yes I am still doing it - although admittedly very behind on my current assignment!), I was supposed to research trade magazines and specialist publications. Now, I could have spent hours trawling through 'Happy Tractors' and 'Existentialism for Beginners'1 in WHSmith. However, I decided to be practical and use my current contacts / resources - which is what a writer is supposed to do anyway.
I put a notice in the church notice sheet. Magazines, please!
Inevitably I got a very varied assortment! Some were of real interest, others were so jargon-ated I didn't have a clue. The idea was to find new markets for writing, and to see what was required to write for such magazines - content, references, style.
I did a sort out the other day where I was going through my general magazine 'stash'.
I decided my collection of Insurance Times could probably be recycled. But some of the others I kept - one technology and engineering magazine I found surprisingly fascinating. Management and business magazines can have articles on people skills and team work and stray into how people tick - very interesting. One had an article on the role of gossip - I kept that one, and will probably cut out the article for my clippings file eventually.
Yesterday I found the British Journal of School Nursing in my guitar case (what a strange sentence!) Someone must have given it to me when I had my guitar with me, and I slipped it into the nearest available compartment. Since I stopped my involvement in music at church for energy reasons, I've only just discovered it. I'm not a school nurse. I'm not a teacher. I'm not a parent and I'm not a child. But it is really interesting. This was an issue from 2008 and had articles on stress and mental health, confidentiality, sex education, weight, drama in education, competence and the age of consent and an interview with a school nurse at an independent Faith School.
Now I am not necessarily thinking of writing for any of these magazines - my knowledge on the subject is full of holes. But they cover topics that act as triggers - stimulating ideas, providing illustrations, looking at wider issues in specific ways. And, of course, they open a window on other people's worlds.
We need to stray outside our specialisms, including in relation to faith and theology . Many of these 'outside' elements can trigger connections we never knew were there - whatever our field or area of expertise.
1As far as I know these titles do not exist2. But if you fancy some bored googling, you can confirm that for me, if you really want to.
2 Rather ironic, considering the second one's title.