Elizabeth Baines - other work

'One of the livelier literary magazines' - DJ Taylor, SUNDAY TIMES

'Effervescent' - John Walsh, INDEPENDENT


As well as a writer, I've been a teacher and an actor, but one of the most satisfying yet exhausting things I've ever done was run a short-story magazine, metropolitan.

One summer evening the writer Ailsa Cox and I were in the pub moaning about the fact that all the short-story magazines were closing down, and we decided to set one up ourselves. We must have been mad, but I'm really glad we did it.

With the help of writer John Ashbrook and artist and designer Ben White (who has also designed this web site), we ran the magazine from mine and John's back room, a fact which surprised everyone who found out, since we set out to make metropolitan professionally produced and distributed in bookshops nationwide.

We received a monumental number of short stories. In the end, to stop the postman having to knock every morning, we sawed a hole for a bigger letterbox. He still knocked, though, out of interest, because, it turned out, he was a short-story writer himself. To start a story magazine is to discover that the whole world writes stories.

The workload was massive - from logging this mountain of stories, through dealing with bookshops and typing up invoices and lugging parcels to the post office, to arranging author interviews on radio. Take it from me, the actual reading and editing was the least of it. We had help - funding from the Arts Council and North West Arts, a voluntary assistant Sandy Fitzpatrick, and then a worker, Dominic Utton, paid for by North West Arts. But in the end, after five years and unwillingly, I gave it up out of exhaustion and the pressures of the need to earn my living, and the others followed suit.

My advice to anyone thinking of starting up a print lit mag is, Don't, unless, like me, you've got an unstoppable compulsion to do so and you're a workaholic. And do it for a limited period only, unless you've got a private income (you don't get paid to do it) and nothing else to do with your life.

Still, it was a great buzz to create metropolitan, and to work with writers like Russell Hoban, Colum McCann, Carl Tighe, Penelope Shuttle and Livi Michael, and the biggest buzz of all was discovering the unknown but brilliant writers, some of whom, such as Susan Davis and Paul Magrs, are now anything but unknown.

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List of metropolitan issues and writers featured



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