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Private Motivations

I sat down this morning at the computer wondering what I would use for a new non-fiction piece for the week. Normally I don’t have difficulty finding a subject that fascinates me to some degree, but today I felt lazy. I didn’t want to do research outside my own head. After all, digging around in there is like going to Aladdin’s cave. It’s hard telling what I might find in the dark.

As I munched toast, I made a random search of data files secured in the wetware. I came across a seldom-used question file with the title of MAGAZINES. I opened it because I thought, perhaps, it contained ideas I could use. I found a question that I must have filed away on a sub-conscious level. The moment it came to light again, it intrigued me.

It read, “What motivates people to read magazines?” Yes, I know the overt reasoning: hobbies, family, professions, etc. I wasn’t looking for that answer. I wanted to know what real gratification a person received from reading magazines.

What if a person reads a decorating magazine, followed by cooking magazines, followed by one on sailing? Does that mean the person is a homebody who sails on the weekend? Or, maybe the person recently purchased a new/used sailboat and is looking for decorating ideas for the cabin and necessities for the galley. Either is possible.

Magazine topics for consideration are endless. Trying to count them is like trying to calculate the number of genetic pairings within the world’s population. Ever-changing interests, audiences, and purposes make writing for and the reading of magazines fascinating fodder for thought.

With this in mind I took an unbiased look at my own reading pleasure. What I discovered explained more than a handful of scientific studies could have produced. Knowing that my reading practices were eclectic as a rule, I took groups in turn.

As a writer I read magazines geared to that profession (three in print, two or more online). These keep me up on the markets and new trends within the writing world. They teach new writing techniques, contain critiques on new and helpful software, and interview writers from many genres. I learn what fiction and non-fiction styles are moving through the children’s sector of literature. Since I write for children most of the time, it’s essential that I keep abreast of that market.

Livelihood does enter into my search for knowledge from these writer’s magazines. I can envision myself taking some morsel of new knowledge, casting it out into the sea of potential editors and catching a contract on my hook. Again, I dream of the life I would like to live, working in my favorite field, the dream I expand on every day.

Other glossy mag types  float around the fringes of my world as teasers. For instance, I read reams about sailing but have never been on a sailboat. I’ve always wanted to learn how to sail and to walk the decks of the tall ships. I’ve wanted to hear the wind belling in the sheets as the helmsman tacks and feel the salt spray on my face. That’s why I read sailing magazines. I can live vicariously through them for a time; have an adventure vacation without leaving home. I read just as much on travel to islands, yet I go nowhere in the physical world. Maybe a sailing ship can take me.

Decorating magazines along with their gardening partners abound throughout my living room. I don’t have extra money to devote to new décor or the thousands of dollars it would take to landscape my place. These are all wish books to tantalize me during those dark hours of the night.

Within the pages of Cottage Living or This Old House I can have a new living environment every day and never grow bored with the décor. I can mentally  translate my own rooms into those I see on the page and determine how much it would take to make the change. I can see a new garden with rooms of its own, blooming and fruiting with abandon.

All of these things are possible because of magazines. And I believe that that is the real reason the medium, in whatever forms it takes, will never die out. People need that sense of escape that is cheaper than movie or theater tickets. The magazine’s physical presence lasts a long time and can give pleasure for as long as the owner wants to keep it around. Even being out of date has its purpose. It allows humor into everyday life. The reader can always look back and say, “What were they thinking back then?” They capture the milestones of our daily culture, our understanding of our environment and the status of our professions. In fact,  they do that in a more durable fashion than newspapers or television.

How do I know that? How many stills from a TV show have gone on the auction block for hundreds/thousands of dollars like one original cover from The Saturday Evening Post? We collect what touches our hearts. It’s difficult to collect electrons for the living room wall.

Still, none of that doesn’t explain my fascination with knife catalogues. Hmmm… I might have to think more on that one. Maybe it’s the shapes, or the craftsmanship, or maybe…

Take a look at your own magazine rack and discover your personal motivation for holding onto that glossy.

A bietot,



Categories: Life, Writing and Poetry
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