In case the title hasn't tipped you off, I'm getting ready to chatter on about the journal for a minute, so if you're bored by that... you don't need to read this. Obviously.
We're getting ready to put the first issue of IQ to bed this coming week, and it's been an interesting first run. The fiction editor and I come from fairly different literary backgrounds, and it's been a lot of fun hashing out submissions with her. I'm hoping that as some of the work is now out there, to give a kind of shape to the thing, the submissions will become more targeted, but I also know that we won't be able to rely on our initial boom of interest for the second time around. There's a reason why they say making it to the third issue is the time to start breathing more easily.
We're in the process now of trying to find more people we'd like to solicit work from, to kind of curate more of the direction we'd like go in. I also don't have the right to be disappointed in the lack of submissions from Koreans this time around, as I've been too preoccupied with the move and work to really sit down and put in the effort to get the word out in Korean. I'm hoping to work on that during my months of work-free, school-free time before the next issue comes out.
One thing we're really struggling with is getting any kind of even gender distribution. I've had to kind of patch together a lot of the publishing schedule on the fly this time around, just to even manage to get two female names on the list. I'm really hoping that the submissions from women pick up at some point. It's kind of inexcusable for a journal run primarily by two female editors to be cranking out nearly all-male content. I know that's a point of contention for a lot of people, but I want to make it clear that we are not prioritizing female contributors over male -- simply, we would like to be able to organize the pieces we accept to not end up with all-male issues. But it's been a challenge.
As it stands, we've got the rest of the first issue in order, and even some things filed away for the second, and a couple of interesting solicitations out there as well. But we had a somewhat serious conversation about some decisions we're going to have to make, as editors, in regards to content. Namely, should we lower our expectations a bit and accept more work that isn't quite matched to what we're hoping to make? Or do we compromise the desire to keep the journal as mostly Korea-based or related? Or do we figure something else out?
Something I'd really hoped for was for the journal to be more than just a platform for publishing creative work from the community -- to hopefully, eventually, also serve as a resource for seeking out creative spaces, events and people in the arts. The whole driving desire behind it is to try to contribute to the English language creative community here, and to hopefully try to help others, as well as ourselves, to connect to the arts here in English, and to each other.
Originally, I had really hoped to keep the editors out of things, as far as contributions go. One thing I absolutely will not compromise on is turning the website into some personal vanity project to publish our own creative work. I find it weird when people try to turn what is essentially a personal blog or website into a "publication". I already have more blogs than I can keep up with, frankly, and I'm not really interested in starting another one to showcase my own work under the guise of being an "editor". But I've been really surprised to see that we have received exactly zero submissions along the lines of reviews, articles or interviews. I had expected it to be a medium that people would feel more comfortable working in. But it hasn't turned out that way.
I've led kind of a sheltered life in Korea, in terms of being a foreigner. Despite being a blogger, I've neglected, in a lot of ways -- although I don't know that "neglect" is quite the right word -- to reach out to the wider world of foreigners available to me. I don't have any issues, for example, with publications like 10mag or Groove, or whatever, and there are a lot of blogs that I think I would really enjoy, if I could manage to keep up with them, but I just... don't. I rarely respond properly to solicitations I get through the blog, dropping balls left and right on things I'm asked to write or contribute to. I pass up invitations to events, preferring to hang out in the same neighborhood places with the same people doing the same things. People have to ask me two, four, ten times to meet up before I finally get around to it. I don't join 'groups'. I fucking hate Twitter. I find restaurants by walking down the street. But in the course of trying to get 'out there' more for this journal, I've come across some really amazing things that have been going on that I've had no idea about, mostly because I exist within a very small circle, foreigner-speaking, here.
I think that's been mostly good for me, for the past five years. But I also think that it's time to get a little more dug in. I'm about to enter a whole new world in terms of my life here, as it is -- it's going to be unavoidable, soon enough. But I'd like to do what I can to really take advantage of that time.
Y'all know me. INP is not the place you come to for travel photos, restaurant recommendations or to put your finger on the pulse of what's going on. This is a blog, in the classic sense -- it's always been a blog, and I reckon it always will be.
But going forward with IQ, we've made a decision between us that if the information about what's going on in English in the arts won't come to us, then we will go to the information. I'm not trying to white knight about how we're going to be the next SEOUL Magazine, or anything like that. It'll be a humble effort, for sure -- in an email I received the other day from someone I've been talking to about an interview, the person mentioned "the media" and I had to laugh. Buddy, I ain't the media. And I don't intend to be. But I figure that something that gets me up off my ass and out into the wider world, building more connections with the people I occasionally whine about not having around, can only be beneficial, both personally and for the journal.
And I'm excited. The mental list of things I've wanted to check out for a while has been lingering in the back of my mind and, even better, I now have valid excuse to approach people I have an interest in chewing the fat with and corner them into answering my questions. Hopefully over time, the momentum will build a bit and then I can just start checking the 'submissions' inbox for things to do with my weekend.
Fuck. We'll see. Whatever.