One of the most common questions we've been fielding for Home Groan is, "but what exactly are we supposed to write?" followed by "what are you looking for, ah?"
We understand that calls for submissions are sometimes vague. To clarify things for you, we've listed and answered some of the most basic FAQs to help you figure out your submission and the eligibility requirements.
You can also read our previous volumes to see the kinds of pieces that we like.
Must it be set in Penang?
We don't really care if your Penang is current, or 50 years in the past, or even 50 years in the future. It could be an alternate Penang where orang bunian have taken children or Na Tuk Kong really resides along Karpal Singh Drive in the flesh or dragons have eaten all our MPs and now rule instead. It may even be a post-COVID19 Penang where you explore how future generations have adapted to survive with this new normal--or evolved mutant powers.
Or it could just be normal Penang with normal people going about their normal lives.
As long as we can ground it in one of our daerahs, we're happy!
Can I write about my own life and family?
Although our past editions lean more towards fiction and poetry, we've always left space for essays, or what we call "creative non-fiction"--and we'd like more of it! This includes interesting stories about the history of Penang, reflections of what it's like to live in Penang, and just the many ways that you interact with the state and its inhabitants in your everyday life. Tell us about your grandpa's secret second wife or the nyonya traditions your mother passed down to you.
Just make it sound more like an exciting story and not a boring history book.
PS Maybe change the names in your story if it's something that can get you (and us) in trouble.
Can I swear? What about sex Scenes?
Try not to.
We try to keep NutMag as PG13 as possible, so we won't be too impressed by excessive swearing or explicit sex scenes.
MYWriters Penang tries to encourage people of all ages to write--and as our first edition featured a fourteen year old writer, we'd like to keep it so that our younger writers can actually read their own anthology.
PS We do like fluffy romances and we're okay with fading to black!
PPS NutMag 4 might have one swear word. We struggled over that for quite a long time.
Do I really have to groan?
Must it be a story about growing up?
No, not really.
Home Groan is a play on the phrase home grown (which is what NutMag is) and groaning about our home (which is what Penangites like to do). It sets the overall theme of this anthology, but there are many ways you can interpret it creatively. As we said, "Give us your perspectives as natives or newcomers, reveal the hidden gems and the sordid truths, revel in the secret layers that tourists can’t see in a week’s stay." Which is all a really vague way to say that you don't need to write about growing up or about groaning.
As long as we can relate and say "THIS IS SO PENANG!" you're fine.
I left Penang already, can I still submit?
We've always kept NutMag local--meaning those born and bred in Penang, and those who currently call Penang their home.
At the same time, we also know many people who moved to Penang for university or work and spent years here before moving on, and therefore cannot fit either criteria. Since we have much more space in this year's anthology, we're extending the submissions to everyone who has once called Penang home.
You'll just have to tell us your connection to the state and how that makes you an honorary Penangite.
5,000 words so long lah. what if I only write 1,000 words can?
5,000 words is just the maximum. Stories below 1,000 words are a little harder to place, though, unless they're really, really good.
A good target to aim for is between 2,500 to 4,000 words.
My grammar not perfect ok or not?
We love a good story written in Manglish--as long as we can understand it! Feel free to slip in common phrases that every Malaysian knows, pepper it with lahs and mehs. If it feels natural for you to say it that way, it's probably alright to write it that way too.
This doesn't mean that you don't edit or proofread your work at all. We're very forgiving of imperfect grammar because English is usually our second or third language, but it would really help us like (and understand) your work better if you've done the work to make it the best that it can be.
PS For examples, check out “Underneath Her Tudung” by Angeline Woon from Cyberpunk: Malaysia (Fixi Novo, 2015) or “Double blind” by Zen Cho from Love in Penang (Fixi Novo, 2013).
Will I get paid?
As we said in our submissions page, accepted entries will be paid up to RM200 for prose (i.e. fiction & creative non-fiction) and RM100 for poetry.
Ok Ok, so what are you really looking for?
We're looking for stories and poetry based in Penang and about Penang.
Check out our call for entry, submission rules, and other information on our submissions page for more information.
Let us know if you have any other questions!