Digital Dante

Editor’s Journal

If you’ve listened to any of the Writing, Books, & Bourbon episodes of The Screw, then you’ve heard a bit about my novels. This is an update that won’t be in our upcoming podcasts. As a matter of fact, it’s a deviation from what we’ve previously recorded and will be posting in the coming month.

Right now, I’m letting the second draft of one manuscript rest while I work on the first draft of another. This novel was completely unexpected, but I’m now two and a half weeks into a work that’s tentatively titled, Dante.

If you couldn’t tell from the title, I’m turning The Divine Comedy into a novel, which is turning out to be a relatively painless process. Each of the 100 cantos are becoming a piece of flash fiction. At least, that’s my aim. I’ve dropped a canto or two already for the purposes of a better adaptation.

The Divine Comedy seems to lend itself to magical realism. We’re dealing with the underworld and the afterlife and our POV is from a living man, Dante. The only difference I see is that this poem combines realistic narrative with both dreams, fantasy, and nightmares.

To me, the most surreal elements of this epic work exist in the descriptions of those Dante meets along his way. And I’m endeavoring to enhance those elements of the story. So far, I confess that it’s been pretty grotesque (e.g. souls boiling in blood or burning inside their tombs).

In all honesty, I’m looking forward to Purgatory.

Justin Meckes

P.S. If you want to read The Divine Comedy, check out Columbia University’s Digital Dante.

Photo by Joshua Newton

Magazine Dreams & Cruel Realities

If you pay attention to this site at all, you’ve probably noticed that it’s gone through a few facelifts over the years. Some of that has been in an effort to make the content more readable while some has been merely aesthetic. What I’m after is that place that would help me bridge the gap between online and print.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure there’s a market for a print journal or a literary magazine. Maybe that’s being too pessimistic, but I see it as a risk I should calculate. And, as it is, I’m pretty happy being an online magazine with an aim of making the online reading experience as comfortable as possible.

If this process leads to anything more in the future, I’ll be the first to let you know. In the meantime, enjoy Scrutiny as it is. (It probably won’t stay this way long.) If you’d like to see what we already have in print, then check out our little black book.

Maybe the last word on this, for now, is that a Scrutiny magazine is as it has always been a dream.

Justin Meckes

Photo by Rita Morais

A Delayed Process

One of Scrutiny‘s past contributors, Quentin Norris, sent a tweet about distraction and procrastination a few days ago and it got me thinking about the writing process. Specifically, how much of writing is not writing? How often is writing happening when we aren’t putting a single word down on the page?

Some people would say or think that if you don’t amass some kind of word count each day then you’re not succeeding. But are they right?

I’ve spent a few years writing more than an hour per day and that’s after working a day job and just keeping up with life (sound familiar?). So, I value wordcount but I also see something in letting things stew.

I’ve written every day, right? Well, sometimes I’ve felt that some of what I’ve written is less impressive than what I produced the previous day. Here’s my question: Are there times when the process of writing should include a little block or even a dry spell?

Does it mean a breakthrough is around the corner? A delayed process? Or is it just procrastination? Maybe it’s a little bit of both. And maybe I should be happy with any writing day even if it is bad.

Justin Meckes

P.S. Read Quentin’s “Heart of Gold.”

Photo by Rodion Kutsaev

A Journal Tradition

The story of the original Scrutiny and some Christmas stuff…

I’ve been thinking about tradition a lot lately. I guess I’m just trying to make this Christmas special. Someone accused me of trying to reclaim the magic I experienced in my youth. I thought that was an astute observation, but inaccurate. What I’m hoping to instill has nothing to do with gifts or Santa. I want to create an atmosphere or simply start something that can be revisited year-to-year.

So far, I’ve made a list of movies I want to watch over the next month (e.g. Scrooged and A Nightmare Before Christmas). I want to reread Dicken’s A Christmas Carol and Sedaris’ Holidays on Ice. Okay, I may simply listen to them on audiobook while watching Netflix’s Fireplace for Your Home. But I’m going to do all of this while drinking hot cocoa in a special set of Christmas mugs. Maybe the important thing is that I want to do all of this again next year. If you’re wondering what this has to do with the journal, then let me bring it back to tradition. The original Scrutiny has an impressive history, which you can read about here. Although it was a British journal concerned mainly with literary criticism, it’s definitely worth noting that Aldous Huxley and T.S. Eliot were subscribers.

(It may also be worth noting here that this journal was not named after the British one. The name Scrutiny came to me in a dream when I first thought about creating a journal. To be honest, I thought that was just about as perfect as it gets for a publication concerned with magical realism.)

One of the traditions I’m hoping to start with Scrutiny is a subscriber-only Christmas story. Whereas I’m not sure it’ll stick, I think it’s a pretty good idea. So, sign-up for our newsletter or you’ll miss out on the journal’s new tradition.

Justin Meckes

Photo by James Giddins

A Christmas Story

Our first newsletter-only story!

Like everybody else, we like to slow down around the holidays. It’s a time for celebration and tradition. In order to take a little bit of a breather, Scrutiny is going to take some time off this season.

There won’t be a January story, but we’re happy to announce that there will be a newsletter-only story on Christmas Eve. We’re calling it out macabre little Christmas gift to all of our subscribers.

Sign-up below and you’ll receive “The Loss You Need To Live” from Eleanor Mae in your stocking this year. Now a warning:  This dark little tale may not exactly make spirits bright.


Justin Meckes

Photo by Philip Swinburn


Something Was Stirring

Sitting around a fire this Christmas?

One of the writers who has contributed to our journal, Callum McSorley, has a book coming out just in time for this holiday season.

As a matter of fact, it will be available tonight. Something was Stirring: Seasonal Tales of Horror will be available right here.  If you’re into horror, then this work would be a good one to pick up this year. It’s also worth noting that, according to Callum’s post, he is reviving a tradition of fright that dates all the way back to the Victorians.

If you would like to read “The Red Elk” it’s here on our site. Truth be told, it was one of my favorite stories of the year. It leans toward the fantasy side of what we publish, and it’s a story you should check out regardless of whether or not you download his free ebook.

Justin Meckes

Photo by Jad Limcaco

Experiments with Video

Scrutiny was recently thinking about how great it would be if we had the budget to create short films based on the stories we publish. Whereas that’s not possible right now, we were able to make the iPhone movie you see above. It’s not exactly what we had in mind, but maybe it’s a start.

Until we have the final film version, read María Entrialgo’s “The Red Light Room” here or listen to it on The Screw.