Chennai's very own independent literary magazine needs a little help - from everyone
Features Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - 05:30
(Krupa Ge, Founder Editor of Madras Mag) Art has always been a player at the casino of economic stability, trying to win against the house, always seeming to make it but falling short just when the goal is near. Literary writing has had a similar story with finding a workable financial model, and the newest experiment on the block is The Madras Mag, which is doing great so far, and its Founder Editor Krupa Ge is enthused about its prospects. The spirit of Chennai is locked in the city’s former name – Madras – and it is to that spirit, that the magazine pays tribute. It publishes both fiction, non-fiction and poetry in English from around the world and earlier even published Tamil writing occasionally when writers contributed. After spending eight years as a working journalist with national dailies such as The Times of India and The Hindu, Krupa took a break last year to take up fiction writing full-time. It was during this time that the idea for an independent literary magazine began to take shape. Krupa wanted a space where budding writers could publish their work. Since its launch last October, The Madras Mag has published at least one new author every month, along with a steady stream of writing by established writers. With this achievement, the magazine has earned itself a place on a number of websites as a reputable publisher of freelance writing. Money money money Crucial to the success of any established publication is a solid source of financing, and Krupa turned to what seemed to her the least problematic of possibilities – crowd-funding – to bring out a printed version of a collection of fiction, non-fiction and poetry in a magazine called the “Madras Mag Anthology of Contemporary Writing” to commemorate the online journal's first anniversary. The idea was to bring out a printed collection of written work, helping debut writers as well as pay them a stipulated amount for their work. “We want our writers to say boldly and freely what they want to.. we do not ever want to stifle their voices.” – she says in her appeal to the public to bring out the copies in print. Within one-and-a-half-day of uploading an appeal on Wishberry in July, Krupa says they achieved their original target of Rs 1 lakh to meet operational costs including honorariums for writers. Krupa Ge explaining the concept of Madras Mag anthology “We really didn’t expect it at all,” she says. Enthused by the response, Krupa has embarked to stretch her ambitious project. In the 37 days remaining on her appeal, Krupa has requested for more financial assistance to bring out additional copies of the “print anthology” to send copies to different stores across the country, and also pay professional rates to writers. Krupa wanted to build The Madras Mag as a platform that would give space for independent writing, recognize the financial worth of writers and also give them the confidence to not sell themselves short. Most times, money is secondary (for writers), she explains. "Usually you are just happy that people are putting your work out there. People act as if they are doing you a favour by publishing it. You are expected to work for free… (But) writers shouldn’t settle,” she says. Finishing up on a novel while also working on a collection of short stories, practically speaking Krupa wouldn’t advise freelancing full-time at the start of your career. “You can’t make a living as a writer today, especially a struggling writer (at the start of one’s career),” she says explaining that though not impossible, it depended on an individual's networking capabilities. But in the United States, for instance, there are more opportunities for writers. “The market is so big, there are extremely focused journals there,” she says. She says that with The Madras Mag, she wanted to do something similar in India, and add to the existing space for writers. “We only see the same writers here (in India). So we want to throw it open,” she says.