Welcome to our weekend conversation!
With the rise of internet publishing came the rise of the ability to take down an author’s work with a single click.
And, with the rise of Literary Twitter came a way for writers and readers to communicate directly with editors. While the social media platform is a useful tool for lit mags to promote their work and their contributors, it can also be—and often is—a space for readers to express their frustrations with the work a magazine is publishing.
In many instances this is a good thing. Direct communication with journal editors can foster a more transparent environment. When a lit mag is treating contributors poorly, the community can speak out and warn one another against the magazine.
In other cases, the platform can create an intense pressure-cooker environment where some editors may feel compelled to respond to demands within the literary community, and respond quickly.
In recent months, I’ve seen two editors forced off the masthead of lit mags based on opinions they expressed online. I’ve also seen numerous magazines announce the removal of writers’ work, based on things that writer has said on their personal page.
Sometimes the removal of a writer’s work happens quietly and in private. We don’t even know it’s taking place. Other times, journals take to the platform and announce their stance.
(To be clear, the above tweets appeared in the context of a journal defending their decision to not remove a writer from their pages. Yet they also state here that they are willing to do so in the future.)
Such editors are undoubtedly well-intentioned. They aim to let others know where they stand on complex issues and how they are working to keep the community safe.
This magazine’s website adds: “We will immediately investigate and take action on any report of misconduct.”
This journal’s site states: “We will not tolerate any form of abusive behavior or bigotry in the stories we publish, nor the authors who write them.”
In these instances, I’ve removed identifying information from the journals. My own intention is not to highlight specific magazines or talk about any individual writers. Just to offer examples of what is happening.
And, as always, to ask you what you think about it.
Do you feel these actions help protect the literary community?
As a writer, do you appreciate when editors remove the work of writers, based on things they’ve said outside the magazine? Does it make you feel better about the journal, about possibly having your work appear there?
What do you think about these categories? For instance, what constitutes “political extremism”? Who determines whether or not someone is an “abuser” or “hateful”? What is “misconduct”? Are editors qualified to make such decisions or ought they leave it to the discretion of the literary community?
Does this environment make you worry that you might say the wrong thing and thus have your submissions blacklisted or retroactively removed?
As an editor, do you concern yourself with the behavior and opinions of your contributors?
Is publishing a writer’s work an implicit endorsement of other aspects of their lives?
As a writer, have you ever had your work removed from publication based on views you’ve expressed publicly? How has that (or fear of that) impacted your work and career?
Leave a comment
Lit Mag News Roundup is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.