Write for Garland
“A single thing may carry hundreds of stories, about the people who made it or who have lived with it. The challenge is to read those stories.”
Garland welcomes submissions from writers. You can send your story idea using the form here.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
The Garland reader
Garland readers enjoy learning about objects made by hand. While thoughtful people, our readers are not exclusively academic. They are looking for an authentic voice, based on the writer’s personal knowledge and experience. They are particularly interested in learning something new about the maker, technique, place, culture and tradition.
With these readers in mind, Garland rarely uses footnotes or academic referencing. We want to grant the readers a smooth journey down the screen. We do however encourage you to include a Further Reading section where there are references to follow up.
The length is variable depending on the subject matter, but consider a range of 800-1200 words.
Images could be crisp and at least 1200px wide. It’s best that everything in the image contributes to its meaning, rather than extraneous backgrounds that can distract from the object. You can send us the largest size you have. Images should be submitted separately from the text and with captions. You can upload images to this Dropbox folder or use file-sharing services like Wetransfer.
Captions should be in the format: Artist, title, year, materials, dimensions (h x w x d), photo:. It is best if you put the caption as EXIF data inside the image. Or more simply, you can put the caption in the file name.
Please do not submit a PDF as the only text file. A Word or Google document is ideal. The texts will be edited in Google document format and authors will be sent a link to their formatted article before it is made public.
The titles of artworks are italicised and in sentence case, such as “Margaret Olley’s Portrait in the mirror is one of her notable works.”
We use British English spelling and “double quotation” marks for quotes.
As Garland seeks to locate work in its context, we also need to provide readers with information about the writers. Articles should be accompanied by two or three sentences about yourself, including where you live, what you do and any current or upcoming projects. We’re happy to include a link that helps promote your activity. Please also provide a portrait image, which we will render into a square format. This can be your standard image, but you are also welcome to be a little creative and feature something of your world. You are also invited to submit a brief audio welcome. This is an opportunity to make any personal or cultural acknowledgements and also for the reader to tune their mind to your voice as they read further, which gives them a sense of where you are coming from. We also welcome a video message in portrait format that we can use to promote your story on Instagram. These all help build a connection with the reader.
Please submit your idea for a contribution using this link.
Articles are due on these dates:
- 1 February
- 1 May
- 1 August
- 1 November
At this stage. Garland is not in a position to pay for writing. We do offer a free annual subscription, membership in our Circle and good karma. We are also happy to work with you to provide letters of support if you’d like to apply for funds towards a writing project.
Your article will be formatted initially in Google Docs for editing. Any major changes will be checked with you. If you want to make further changes, please do that directly on the Google Doc, which will retain work already done in formatting it for publication. The week before publication, you will receive a link to your article for final checking. Publication will involve making the link available on the website and featuring the article in one of the newsletters that will follow, accompanied by promotion on social media. Stories will be rotated on the front page so that they each receive their due attention. We are committed to the long-term life of your story. After initial promotion, it will be available in the Garden of Stories for readers to discover.
Writing quality: Be specific
Our platform can be considered one of “object-telling”. This is a way of writing that tells the story behind a handmade object, including the world of its maker and users.
You are encouraged to focus as much as possible on the particular. This involves “showing” the reader the material, rather than “telling” them an interpretation. Consider an ekphrastic style of writing that focuses on the object in its detail. Avoid generalisation. It’s better to jump right into the story at the beginning than start with something too formulaic, such as “In this article, I will…”.
Think of it as taking the reader on a journey, rather than giving a lecture. It’s good to find one instance when you mention the weather, which implies a specific time and place.
Be confident in your voice. We encourage the use of first-person “I”. This is particularly important if you are writing about another culture. You need to identify where you are coming from and avoid the universal voice that seems to come from nowhere. Consider carefully before sentences beginning “I think…” It is better to be direct with the reader.
Show, rather than tell.
Avoid superlatives like “incredible” or “amazing”. If you feel this about a subject, it is better to describe what causes this sensation. Show, rather than tell.
Garland aims to be an enduring archive of thoughtful writing. While writing styles will vary greatly, it is useful to have a well-crafted base. This means paragraphs with sentences that work together as an integrated whole, without phrases added in an ad hoc manner. You can think of sentences as steps in the journey. It’s good to have a steady pace without stumbles or convoluted moves.
When in doubt, consider breaking sentences up so they retain their integrity. In this way, there is more chance of sustaining the reader’s attention. As we know, attention is a rare commodity these days. Avoid the overuse of the dash — to connect thoughts. It can make paragraphs feel like they have been put together by a glue gun rather than dovetail joints. Keep paragraphs short.
Another way of holding the reader’s attention is to be concise. Academic writing has conditioned many of us to make everything explicit, similar to legal discourse. If removing text does not change the meaning of the story, then it’s best not to include it. This also strengthens the writer’s voice by making it more direct.
We have a collection of essays online that can offer inspiration here. We also recommend the tight narrative style found in BBC’s From Our Own Correspondent.
It is important that you reference any words that you are citing. Do not copy and paste text from elsewhere without reference.
Garland publishes around 25 articles in each issue. You can find our latest Garland itinerary here, which outlines the upcoming themes. We also publish around three articles a week for more timely matters in our Loop feed.
You can view our privacy policies here.
Stories are what bind us over time and space. Make stories, not war.