A Northwest Based Literary Journal

TLR in 2016: Looking Back, Looking Forward

As the New Year is a traditional point of reflection and anticipation, and with Tahoma Literary Review entering its third year, it seems okay to indulge in some rumination—a little where we’ve been, where we’re going exercise.

As of this coming Friday, we’ll have closed our sixth reading period. Considering that we three editors read all submissions ourselves, that’s a heck of a lot of slush (about 3,000 submissions). And yet we’re not complaining. Reading all that work—a majority of it of publishable quality, by the way—has helped us publish a journal with a distinctive voice, one that is both reflective of the diverse talent among modern writers, and also establishes an aesthetic that seeks to talk about what it means to be human.

Is it working? Literary journaling is a slow-growth process, so it’s always hard to tell, but we are encouraged by the growing number of people who read our journal and our weekly blog, by those who donate, and those who submit. The numbers are looking better all the time.

We’ve made some literary friends along the way, too, and that matters a lot to us. For myself especially, as a writer not terribly well connected to the big-lit establishment, it’s gratifying to find writers of a similar mind, whether well-published or never published, whose sense of story, and of what is a story, is similar to my own. It’s even more fulfilling to experience the revision process with such writers, the respectful give-and-take that sometimes leads us to stay in touch long past the release date of the issue in which they’ve published.

Looking back is also a chance to assess what’s worked in our brief tenure, and what may change. As a journal that maintains a relatively high submission fee in this time of great debate over fees, we want to make sure that we deliver enough bang for writers’ bucks. We remain committed to using fees to compensate writers, to accepting work only from the slush pile rather than from solicitation, to using only our editors rather than pools of first readers, to offering feedback to every fiction and nonfiction submitter who wants it, and to transparency in our literary model.

But onward: AWP is coming up at the end of March in Los Angeles, and we’ll be there, and if you’re attending we hope you’ll stop by and say hello—we have a booth in a great location this time, as well as book signings by some of our best-known contributors. We’re cooking up some great giveaways, and are working on a one-of-a-kind offsite event (we’ll keep you posted).

More than that, though, it’s an opportunity for our far-flung editors to come together and plan the future in person. Kelly, now in London; Joe, now in the Seattle area; and YiShun, as always in L.A., will have a face-to-face-to-face that’s got to be better than our monthly voice-distorted, signal-dropped, whose-turn-is-it-to-talk online chats. We’re not really into resolutions, but who knows what ideas we might conjure without the limitations of time and distance?

Until then, we at TLR wish all our writers and readers a most Happy New Year.

–JP

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