What is Leslie's Weekly?

We are an online publication devoted to publishing interesting essays and encouraging good writing. As our name implies, we will publish once a week. Previous articles will be archived for those who wish to access them.  Leslie U. Harris will occasionally add his thoughts and outside writers are invited to also contribute.

 Who started this thing and why?

Leslie U. Harris began Leslie's Weekly when he could not get a publisher for an article he had written. He is supported by his nephew, Davi Gustavo Rodrigues dos Reis (whew!), web designer and assistant extraordinario.

How did you get the name Leslie's Weekly?

Uh, well my name is Leslie and we intend to publish weekly. But more than that, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper began publication in New York in 1852 and later changed its name to Leslie's Weekly. It ceased publication in 1922. Surviving issues today are highly prized as collectors' items for vividly depicting American life during the seven decades of its existence. Many distinguished writers were featured in its pages.

 What is the subject matter of your content?

Birth, death and everything in between. We are interested in most subjects, so long as an essay is well-written, informative and timely. Quality is our number one goal. Write well and people will read it. We think there is an intelligent audience out there who, like us, love to read and discuss, think and learn.

 What do you charge to subscribe?

Nothing. We are free and always will be. We are interested in disseminating ideas, not making money.

 How do I submit an article?

We're working on that and we'll have more information for you shortly. We are evolving, so stay tuned. If you can sustain a narrative like George Orwell, be as thought-provoking as Eric Hoffer or as opinionated as Hunter S. Thompson, or have the insight of Christopher Hitchens, we want to hear from you.

 Can my article be on a sexual subject?

Yes and no. Let's face it, that's how we all got here. But articles of a prurient nature or that use obscenity or profanity merely to shock, offend or showcase the writer's extensive vocabulary of four letter words hold no interest for us. On the other hand, essays that illuminate interesting aspects of human sexuality, such as the work of an academic research lab, or shed light on some social viewpoint about the subject, like the daily life of a prostitute, or reveal new information or a novel perspective concerning a sex crime, may crystallize an area we and our readers would like to learn more about.

 Should my article be in the first, second or third person?

Yes. Whether you write in the first person (“Call me Ishmael”), second person (“Sherlock Holmes seemed delighted at sharing his rooms with me”) or third person (“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”), we don't care. We are interested in good writing and compelling subject matter. Any voice you use is valid if you meet those goals. Just be sure to keep it consistent throughout your article.

 Can I send in a graphic article in comic book form?

Absolutely. Some graphic novels have been highly praised. Your graphic article may be worthy of praise, too.

 What will you pay for my article?

Pay? We're just glad to get enough together for a slice of pizza. Which leads us to the next question.

 Do you own the copyright if I submit an article?

No, the article remains yours; however, we retain the right to archive and disseminate it to non-commercial users. We just want to get your essay out there. If you can get a Hollywood producer to pay you a million dollars for it and, even better, co-star you in the movie with Clark Gable, go for it. Just be sure you don't pay that producer any money up front until Clark invites you to his house for lunch.

 How long should my article be?

We require a minimum of 1000 words and a maximum of 3000. That's between two and six standard pages using a 12 point font with 1.5 line spacing in Word or Open Office. We're strict on that, so use your word-count tool. Think of it this way: on the one hand, it's hard to explain a subject in less than 1000 words. On the other hand, if you can't get your point across in 3000 words you're just thrashing. Do us both a favor and read your essay before you send it. Better yet, get your mother-in-law to read it.

 Will you edit my article?

Probably. “Never was a horse that couldn't be rode, never was a cowboy that couldn't be throwed.” You are your own best editor. Make it as good as you can, then leave the rest to us. We reserve the right to cut, condense, expand, clarify, reword and do all the things that editors do. If you think your words should be carved in granite, chisel tombstones for a living. Don't like it? We understand. Go elsewhere.

Will you publish my article that appeared in the “Peoria Quarterly Journal of Failed Journalists”?

No. All submissions must be original work that have never been in print in any publication, or online.

 I'm British and I spell English a little differently than you Americans. Will you hold that against me?

Not at all, and you're not alone. For writers throughout the Commonwealth we don't care if you spell “labour” or “centre”. We'll figure it out. Just be sure you don't spell “labour” in one sentence and “harbor” in the next. But unless it's absolutely necessary, try to avoid idioms that are exclusively British or particular to a region (“and Bob's your uncle”) or a section of London (“Mrs. Harris went to Paris”) and we'll try to do the same on our end. Of course, if you are writing about disappearing Cockney speech it would be entirely appropriate to include “Mrs. Harris went to Paris” [traveled to Europe]. Now wouldn't the rest of you Americans just love to know what “and Bob's your uncle” means?

I have this brilliant idea about implanting microchips in our brains to control writing. Will you read it?

No, turn your brilliant idea into a brilliant essay and we'll read that. Microchips - how would that work?

I've always wanted to be a writer, but I'm not sure I can. What should I do?

You should do what writers do – write. Set aside a time each day and just do it. Don't wait for “inspiration”. Talk to your page about what you did today, what you saw, people you met, how you felt. Don't be embarrassed or worried that you might “fail”. This is for your eyes only. All the great writers had self-doubts and every working writer wakes up in the morning thinking they'll never write another good sentence. But a miracle happens when you sit down to write: you write. Get started and you'll see.

 Do you accept fiction?

Not at the moment. Our plan is to add a short story contest in the future and publish the winners. Be patient; “to every thing there is a season”.

 I would like to be a better writer. Would you give me some pointers?

Sure, here they are:

  • Write what interests you in your own voice. You can learn a lot by reading the great masters. What stands out is that they are passionate about their subject and speak clearly with their own distinctive voice.

  • Keep your audience in mind. If it's not interesting to your friends, it's not interesting to others.

  • Plan, organize your thoughts and write your first draft. When you've finished, let it sit a day, then reread it. That genius paragraph you wrote last night may not be so digestible at breakfast. Rewrite it, then do it again.

  • Be sure your article clearly explains its thesis, expounds upon it, usually citing evidence, and makes its points clearly and succinctly. This does not mean you have to be obvious. A narrative that gets its message across in an interesting and subtle way is more powerful than one that hits the reader over the head with the self-evident. An unusual or unexpected ending is a big plus.

  • Read the great essayists; they have much to teach about good writing. We have already mentioned Orwell, Hoffer, Thompson and Hitchins. Good writers may be found in current publications as well. How do they state their thesis, build upon it, try to convince the reader of its correctness? An opinion without facts is just opinion, but a well-written idea supported by facts is a powerful tool. “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Stirring writing has changed the world. Add your voice and maybe you can, too.

How do I get started?

Just write. The journey is worth the effort.