By Abby Hess
We who edit undergraduate magazines shall graduate. We might even want to, a little. In any case, we are continually handing over the reigns, but not before we invest ourselves, stress ourselves, and become so close with our staff that we begin to tell our childhood secrets during those long, late night copyediting sessions.
You went to clown camp? Me too.
And then we are asked (forced really) to leave. We graduate and ship ourselves back home, to new schools, new jobs, even new magazines. After all, that was just an undergraduate magazine. Now it’s time to edit with the big boys and girls. Now it’s time to establish ourselves in the real world.
But what about that writing—the poems, essays, stories that you loved? What about the art, the interviews you solicited? What about the time and attention you squeezed out of yourself, the words you read, read, and read again, so many times they started floating around the page and you had to pin them down with coffee and Oreos? Can we really just
let that all go?
The mission of an undergrad lit mag isn’t different from that of an established one. All lit mags want to get the best submissions they can and share beautiful words. In the letter from the editors of this year’s issue of the Susquehanna Review, we tell our readers,
“…your relationship with a journal doesn’t end with the back cover. When the words run out, keep going. Send us your stories. Send someone else your stories. Email an author you admire. Respond to a reader who admires you. Open a dialogue.”
Once we, the undergraduate litmag editors, the authors, designers, and readers graduate, there is no whitewash line that strips away the literary value of the thing that we created together. Just as a reader’s relationship with a journal doesn’t need to end when the pages do, our skill and passion for words doesn’t somehow suddenly become established once we leave school. What is being published and said and read in undergraduate literary magazines is relevant and interesting now. Just as relevant to the future of creative writing as anything published by post-grads.
Creative writers understand that every person is strange, broken, gross, mean, and hopeful. We take advantage of those readers who have either not understood this about themselves, or who feel they must be freaks in opposition to the normal. This is how we shock people, by showing them truths about themselves. And you think we would learn this lesson from the writing, that no magazine is suspended, untouchable. Each one is its own freak. Does it really shock us that we are all a part of the imperfect art?
With this blog, we hope to give voice to undergrad writers, editors, and those who have left us for the “real world.” Maybe we’ll see our ideas aren’t so different. Maybe what matters is that we all care. With that I recommend you read the rest of this issue’s letter from the editors and the amazing stories, poems, and essays that come after it.
“Flip the page and say hello to the future established writers. Join the discussion of what undergraduate literary journals are and what post-graduate journals are soon going to be. We believe that undergraduate writing is the beginning of the new art and that the difference between an established writer and the authors published here isn’t a disparity of ideas or a less sincere passion for words. The difference, we believe, is time, and folks, we’ve got lots of it. We’re swimming in it. The future is here around us. We are in it.”