Change-Quotes

I wrote an important response to a reader/writer this week.

The question was:

Dear LR editors,

I really enjoyed Anne Muccino’s “Sepia” in the fall issue. The writing conjured up the experience of entering the repair shop, with its particular smell of blown electric fuses, with such vividness, and I loved the way the speaker segues from sensory experience into her apprenticeship in language and the painful unknowables she is starting to intuit in the adult world . 

I saw your call for submissions on CRWR-OPPS last month, and also that your next submissions period opens March 1. I have some work that I think might be a good match content-wise for Longridge Review but am not sure about length: your website specifies a maximum of 3,500 words, but the last CRWR-OPPS call said 6,500. Was that an error? It seems like your usual pieces are shorter.

 

This is what I said:

Thank you. I love hearing that one of our essays has had a positive impact on a reader. I agree, it was a special essay.

I’ll just be straight with you, we are in a transitional moment as a literary journal. We are about to publish (online) our 10th issue. We’ve worked with over 80 writers/visual artists. We’ve learned, I think, a thing or two that will make our next 10 issues even better.

One thing I think I’ve learned is that 6,500 words is just too many for online, not necessarily inherently but in terms of how it tends to tempt people to send us excerpts from longer works vs. actual stand-alone essays. This next call, we are shortening the length to 3,500 words.

 

I am also going to implement a $3 submission fee. I’ve been very proud of not accepting advertising and not charging submission fees, but the truth is we can’t go on without some form of income. I hope this will not prevent you from submitting, but I understand if it does. I think many of us doing this work, on both ends, are trying to figure it out.

I will send a new call to CRWROPPS with the updated submission information.

We hope to read your work!

What I didn’t say in that response is more complex, and I think nicely described by In Praise of Submission Fees by Nicole Walker. Nichole’s op-ed appeared in Brevity magazine’s blog on February 2, 2018, and takes on the question of how online submission fees really pencil out, for everyone.

I won’t retell it all here,  but suffice it to say, Nichole makes a compelling case for the simplicity and relative cost-effectiveness of most online submission fees. She put words to much of my own experience on both sides of the submission experience.

The other thing I didn’t go into is that our best essays are 3,500 words or less. They just have fit that profile, and there may be various reasons for this. Whatever the reasons, it’s time to honor the facts. The longer word count, at least in our experience, tends to drag writers away from the true essay form. There is a lot of wandering and frankly some avoidance that is less likely to appear when the word count is fairly tight. This change is after publishing 10 issues with longer word counts, so we know of what we speak.

We want to keep doing what we are doing. We hear from you every issue how publishing your essays is changing your world for the better. Readers are moved by shared experiences, and writers are freed by telling their stories. It’s not self-help. We explicitly don’t do that. But it’s a common outcome of our mission that people are engaged and connected in the hard work of growing up and finding peace through reading and writing.

Our mission is to present the finest essays on the mysteries of childhood experience, the wonder of adult reflection, and how the two connect over a lifespan.

We are still all in on this work, and we hope we will have your support. Change is not uniformly celebrated, so don’t hesitate to tell us what you think. We want to know.

And….did I mention?

Our submissions period opens March 1, 2018. Send us your best work!

Elizabeth Gaucher
Editor and Founder
Longridge Review

 

The holidays are upon us, and we are thankful for all of the readers, writers, and artists who make Longridge Review possible!

We hope you will “follow” our blog posts — which are few and far between — to keep in touch with some innovations for this site in 2018. We would love to have your creativity be part of growing our mission via essays and art. You can also keep an eye on us via social media (see below).

  • Issue #9 is LIVE today!
  • Submissions for our Winter 2017-18 issue will open December 15, 2017
  • We are pleased that Molly Young Maass, District of Columbia, will join our board of readers and contributing editors for our next issue. Welcome, Molly!
  • In our current issue, creative advisor Suzanne Farrell Smith interviews her sister, Deb Farrell. We are truly honored to have Deb as our featured artist this issue. Don’t miss the intimate exchange between sisters that offers an unusually candid insight into Deb’s work.
  • We are on Twitter and Facebook! Follow us to stay in the loop on all things Longridge: @LongridgeReview and Longridge Editors LLC.

NOTE: Our mission results in our publishing uniquely sensitive narratives. Childhood experiences are formative, and tend to land in emotionally — and sometimes psychologically — difficult territory. While the writing is about childhood, these essays are not for children. Some essays contain adult language, explorations of sexuality, and instances of verbal or physical abuse. They also contain moments of light and love and humor. Thank you for reading and sharing responsibly. — EDG

In this issue:

Victims or Others?
Gina Ferrara (New Orleans) remembers a colorful crew of men who play cards at her grandfather’s bar and clubhouse in the French Quarter. “Chicago Mike” always seems to have an assortment of random gifts on him. One day, Gina and her sister are the recipients of some of those gifts, and she finds herself asking herself questions about what it means to be involved in something you’re not even sure you understand.

How to Be on Time
Andy Harper (Illinois) weaves a narrative that goes to an unexpected place. When he finds his young adult self beset by unexpected anxiety, he is determined to follow the bread crumbs to its origin. The conclusion is shocking. This essay broke a couple of hearts at our editorial table, and is an excellent example of why we publish Longridge Review.

Sepia
Anne Muccino (Kansas City) reflects on the first time she repeated a term spoken inside her family and realized it wasn’t something said aloud to others, most importantly not to the people being labeled with that word. This is a poignant snapshot of a child’s dawning awareness that not everything said casually or even said warmly has a casual or warm effect on others.

Shooting Stars
Jonathan Sonnenberg (New York City) deftly tells us something about himself by writing about an influential teacher.  Mr. Bell likes to ask his students prickly questions. Have they ever been drunk? Tried pot? Cocaine? The class is pretty used to his provocations, until one afternoon a question sucks the air out of room. Mr. Bell is after more than discomfort. He has something he needs them to know.

A Bowl Full of Jelly
Victoria Waddle (Claremont) is devastated by her grandmother’s death, but learns how to conjure her presence in dreams. These visits help, some, but become increasingly dissatisfying as her grandmother never comes fully back to who she was in life. Eventually, the dream woman sends a message that makes it plain her visits are over. But will she ever truly not be there, somewhere?

Sentence Enhancers
Teige Weidner (Oregon) has a story about his childhood that will ring familiar to too many readers. He is bullied, a lot, and the abuse is taking a toll. No one seems to appreciate how bad things are for young Teige, but they are about to find out. After all, we all only have so much fuse, and his is about to burn down.

p.s. Want to write for us? See submission guidelines here: Longridge Review SUBMIT

Dear Reader:

A heads up, this issue is really heavy. There is recounting of a lot of trauma.

But this is part of our mission, I believe. To bring forth how serious childhood is to who we become. To offer empathy and compassion for adults who are still trying to find themselves whole after harm they suffered at a tender age. Absolutely, sometimes the formative event is love or humor. But often, it is not.

Sometimes the harm is callous disregard. Sometimes it is violent assault. Sometimes it is the betrayal of a friend. Sometimes, it is a parent’s love growing mysteriously cold.

And yet….each of these writers still seems to carry a small, unextinguished light. The search for resolution and healing is much of what these essays have in common.

Christopher Woods‘ photographs carry that same small light in darkness.

We hope you will read each essay with care, and with time. There is much to learn here.

Peace and write on,

Elizabeth Gaucher
Editor, Longridge Review

Issue 3 is here, and I am hustling through the last-minute finishing touches that seem to persist no matter how many months in advance we start putting things together for Longridge Review.

Is every bit of formatting perfect yet? Alas, no.

But I find myself soaking in the joy that comes from reading, re-reading, and working through questions with a wonderfully diverse cadre of writers; the quality of our journey far outweighs the frustrations of errant HTML code.

We don’t usually do much with unusual formatting of essays. So far we have allowed white space to inform the reader of paragraph breaks rather than indents. Indent more than one way? Add numerical or linear cues? Experiment with starting a line with a comma?

No.

Except that was all before I read Tom Lin’s Godzilla, a narrative with visual structure that not only  informs us how to read it but also seems to subtly mimic the loneliness and staggered footsteps of the title creature itself. This is a powerful, complex essay that lingers. By examining his childhood impressions of Godzilla, Lin also opens the door to his memories of his grandfather, of the island of Taiwan’s history, and the legacy of the atomic bomb. Lin gifts the reader with a woven vision of family, culture, and destruction. Ultimately, he asks the reader to consider the lost voices and languages of a people but also of their hearts.

I will write up my usual synopsis of each essay and blog those out soon. For now, I can’t hold these back another hour. They are each just too special, and they await your discovery. Visit our home page for links to:

  • Rebecca Chekouras (California), July 11
  • Ryan C. Dailey (Chicago), Home/Life
  • Janet Garber (New York), A Closet of One’s Own
  • Tom Lin (Ohio), Godzilla
  • Ana Christina Peters (South Korea), War
  • Emily Rems (New York), Extra Help
  • Allison Spector (North Dakota), The Bucket Boys
  • Margaret Redmond Whitehead (Brooklyn), Over the Limit

Happy Reading,

Elizabeth Gaucher, Founding Editor, Longridge Review