DargonZine’s purpose since day one has been to help amateur writers improve. Back when the magazine began, I didn’t really know what I was looking for, but I knew that I wanted to be able to exchange ideas, techniques, and works with other writers. I also knew that the Internet was a tool with awesome potential for communication between people. What I didn’t know was that I was looking for the same things as other aspiring writers: a community of like-minded writers and a place to publish my works. Since there were no such things on the Internet at that time, I started both a community and a publishing outlet, and (fortunately) they flourished. But still I remember very clearly being a solitary writer with no way to reach an audience and no one to turn to for critiques, support, mentoring, or understanding.
Thanks to the Internet, DargonZine can provide those things to writers who otherwise might not have a place to publish or other writers to work with. That’s why I always feel a lot of satisfaction and pride when I can welcome new writers to the ranks of those who have had stories published in DargonZine. Recruiting new writers not only helps our magazine thrive and grow, but is an integral part of our mission to support and encourage aspiring writers. Surprisingly, that’s something we lost sight of for a while. After a strong initial start, as DargonZine matured we settled down with a core group of writers. As the world of Dargon became more and more detailed and complex, we never made much of an effort to find new writers or help those who joined get ramped up on the environment. It took a long time for us to notice, but we were floored when we finally looked back on the nine years from 1989 through 1997 and discovered that we had printed only thirteen new writers — barely one new writer per year!
We all knew that this was a serious problem. If we couldn’t attract and support new writers, the magazine would soon fold. After that realization, the group made a huge effort to recruit, support, and mentor new writers. We began asking for feedback about why new writers left the project, and what would make things better for those who stayed. We gave new writers more information about the milieu, better reference tools, more story ideas to key off, better writing guidelines, and mentors to support them. Everyone has helped, and those efforts have paid off wonderfully. Since then we have printed thirteen new writers; in just two years we’ve welcomed as many new writers as we’d printed in the previous nine years combined!
And in this issue I am delighted to introduce you to two new writers — Nicholas Wansbutter and Victor Cardoso — who joined us last fall. Nick is a student in Winnipeg, and his debut is the first of a three-part series that will run in the next couple issues. Victor is the son of Portuguese expats and lives and works in Ann Arbor. Be sure to congratulate them on getting their first stories through DargonZine’s lengthy peer-review process!
We’re very pleased to welcome them, as well as all the other writers who have joined our ranks in the past two years. The influx of new blood has enlivened our discussions and rejuvenated the project, and reinforced the importance of welcoming and supporting our new writers. And that’s something we should never lose sight of again.