Five Symbols of Spring to Enhance Your Writing + Five Litmags Open to Subs this Season
Another spring greets us this month with promises of new beginnings. With sunny days lasting longer and nature coming back to life, spring can be one of the most energizing times to focus on your writing. Check out the five popular symbols of spring below for ideas to enhance your writing and infuse your words with the energy of the season. Also check out five great literary magazines open to submissions of your fresh, green work.
1. Blooming Flowers
Nothing sings spring like flowers blooming. A pop of color from blossoms in spring is a welcome sight after the subdued browns and grays of winter. Consider adding imagery of flowers into your poetry and prose to show your characters feeling vibrancy in their lives after a period of drabness. Imagery can focus on delicate petals, reaching green leaves, or a fairy-dust sprinkling of pollen. To add deeper meaning to your work, choose flowers with a specific meaning or a symbolic color. For example, daffodils are a symbol of new beginnings, while marigolds mean power and strength. To give your writing regional flavor, choose flowers strongly associated with your area. For example, hibiscus and orange blossoms ground a poem set in Florida, while cherry blossoms fit nicely with a story set in Washington, DC.
For every submission Plants & Poetry plants a tree or other vegetation in their food forest in Bella Vista, AR. Their spring poetry contest is themed “Talking With Trees” and open from April 16th to May 2nd to poems no longer than two pages. Throughout the year, Plants & Poetry has subs open for their regular litmag as well as special anthologies. (Fees apply to submissions.)
Motherhood is also associated with the spring since mothers create and birth new life. Consider having your character reflect on their mother as Mother’s Day approaches. Pen a poem or creative nonfiction piece about your own mother or experience with becoming a mother. If you’re not interested in writing about a literal mom, consider incorporating larger themes of motherhood such as Mother Earth, mothers from religious texts such as Sarah or Hagar from the Old Testament, or mythological mothers such as Thetis or Penelope.
Literary Mama is open year-round to submissions of short fiction up to 5,000 words, creative nonfiction, and poetry. They’re also interested in literary reflections on the intersection of motherhood and writing, book reviews, and profiles of mama writers.
3. Melting Snow
The slow drip of melting snow also evokes a sense of spring, but with a focus strongly on the end of winter. Melting snow can be worked into a piece focused on a character breaking free from a long, dark period in their life. Snow is associated with coldness and dreariness, but no matter how long the winter lasts, eventually warmth comes to end the freeze. Your character may watch the dirty, muddy snow outside turn to rich soil primed for new growth to emerge, or they may feel the last chill of a snowfall quietly come to an end before starting a new chapter in their life.
Dark Winter is a brand new litmag published by Candian writer Suzanne Craig-Whytock. When they re-open in June, they will take submissions of fiction under 2,000 words as well as poetry. They post individual pieces on their website throughout the week.
4. Baby Animals
Baby animals symbolize the fertility of the spring, but rather than using the usual suspect of baby chicks, consider adding a less common baby animal into your current work in progress. Your character may uncover a newly hatched gecko while cleaning out the garage to symbolize an unexpected opportunity for rebirth. Or they may stumble upon a gangly, adolescent moose representing the awkward wonderfulness of growth. Just like with flowers, many animals represent specific symbolism as well as the regional feel of a piece. For example, consider the difference it makes in a poem to compare someone to a baby horse versus a baby rattlesnake.
Hare’s Paw is a newish litmag run by writer and farmer Olivia Thomes. They take submissions of poetry, flash fiction, and flash creative nonfiction for their bimonthly issues. They also take submissions of original music as well as cover renditions. (Fees apply to submissions.)
Birds, and everything about them, symbolize spring and new beginnings. Birds take flight on new journeys, build nests in anticipation of the future, and lay eggs brimming with potential. Baby birds grow quickly and soon leave the nest before the season is over. Much like certain baby animals, many types of bird are overly used in writing, so think about birds that are not as regularly used. Maybe in your essay you feel like a tufty baby pheasant after a difficult life event, but by the end of your piece your golden feathers have come in. Maybe your messy house looks like a haphazard osprey nest, or your main character finds a feather that reminds them of an almost-forgotten childhood memory. With over 10,000 species of birds on the planet, there is bound to be one that nests perfectly into your writing.
Pigeon Pages takes submissions of prose up to 4,000 words as well as poetry. They also have four short story contests a year that award the winner $250. They’ve had their published prose selected or shortlisted for Best of the Net. (Fees apply to submissions.)