Too Much Pagan Writing is Too Bland
A lot of what makes Pagan magazine publishing is its bias towards advice-giving. That and poor graphic design, in some cases.
Look at Circle magazine, for example. Circle reminds me too much of the bland publications of cookie-cutter financial advice that mutual-fund companies, credit unions, etc. send out.
I feel as though I have read almost everything in it before. "How to use your cauldron." "The Celtic legend of Whatever."
I tend to skim the "Passages" section and the "Lady Liberty League Report," and then it goes on the shelf.
Its graphic design, unfortunately, reflects its early 1980s incarnation as a tabloid newspaper. Boring. When they shrank the size to 8 x 10, it did not get the makeover it desperately needed.
Of course, there is a rule in commercial magazine publishing that after two years every topic is new again.
But what is missing is personality. The Cauldron, which is still more in the "zine" class (originally it was typed and reproduced by mimeograph on the cheapest paper) shows the personality of its editor, Mike Howard.
American Pagan writers seem too afraid of being "personal." Instead, they churn out bland how-to stuff.
When I edited some books for Llewellyn in the 1990s, "too personal" was the kiss of death—the term they used when they wanted to reject a piece of writing. They probably would have called the The Confessions of Aleister Crowley "too personal."
The new Witches & Pagans at least has columnists. I turn to Kenaz Finan or Judy Harrow or R.J. Stewart before tackling the main features. I want stories and the "too personal" more than I want the how-to stuff. Sometimes I even get it.
But their Web site needs updating. Thanks to the Web, publishing a magazine is now twice as much work as before.
I thought Thorn was cool, so I subscribed and promoted it, only to see it go "online only," which most likely is the kiss of (slow) death.
The nascent Pagan Newswire Collective that Jason Pitzl-Waters is organizing has a worthwhile purpose: to make it easier for Pagans to define Paganism in the media marketplace. (Jason's own blogging is newsy, which makes it a daily read.)
Where the PNC will find outlets I am not yet sure. All journalism is in turmoil right now, and journalism about religion even more so—even though so many news stories have unexplored or unexplained religious dimensions.
Meanwhile, I go on looking for good writing that happens to be Pagan, rather than "Pagan writing."