SQF: Why did you start this magazine?
Christopher Schnieders: You might say I started it out of frustration with the way the internet was affecting my writing time. Instead of writing, I was wasting time reading op-eds or other articles online. I wasn't contributing to the exchange of ideas or creating work as I always had. Even more, I wasn't finding enough online material that interested me (probably wasn't looking in the right places).
Still, it was clear that the internet wasn't going anywhere. I decided to wade in and participate. Another factor was cost. It's very inexpensive to run IR online, as opposed to print.
The initial idea was to create a blog and post my ideas with those dreaded, addicting op-eds. Quickly, it morphed into an online literary journal seeking to publish the work of others, and sometimes my work too. I know all too well how hard it can be to get published. I also know there are many writers creating quality work that never sees the light of day. I wanted to create a place for them and it's worked so far.
The other thing I'll say is I was seeing sites with tons of content, tons of writing on the home page, everywhere. I have nothing against that, but wanted to create something that wasn't that. I wanted something simple, showcasing one piece for a full week while each volume ran - then another piece for a full week after that, etc. Give the authors their due - and give them the copyright to their work.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
- Quality writing
- Correct spelling and grammar
- Unique story/perspective
I probably enjoy essays the most.
SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?
CS: Pornography that's not good. Too much unnecessary profanity. Motivational spiritual stuff. Beginning writing. Poetry. I have built in sense for what fits in the journal. I can usually tell it it's good for IR immediately. Not always though... Sometimes I may dismiss a piece initially, then go back to it later and realize it’s brilliant. That happened with “Omega” by Zachary Woodard (Vol. 4)
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?
CS: No. I usually say nothing. I have an intense day job, so it can be challenging just to keep on top of the work we publish. It's a fact that I've ignored work we should have accepted because I spaced or didn't have the time or lost track of the email. I also hate the idea of rejecting someone’s writing. If it doesn’t work for me at the time, it doesn’t mean it’s not good. In the past few months, a writer rejected my acceptance because I offended the writer with my reply. It was a great work, but what can you do. Move on. Go forward. In the end, good writers will find other avenues, especially with the amount of online journals today.
SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?
CS: You always learn by reading and it's an honor to publish excellent writers. I've mostly learned there are some great writers who are slipping through the cracks and I hope publication in IR leads them to bigger and better places. Also, if you want to write you must produce, you must write and keep writing.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
Q: Is print dead, are books dead? A. No way
Elsewise, I got nothing. We've been lucky to receive just enough high quality submissions to keep this going since 2011. Some of the works have not been great, but a majority meet the standard. You might also be surprised how few submissions we receive.
We made a call for submissions for Vol. 9 (via Twitter) and the work is coming in. Intellectual Refuge lives to see another day...
Thank you, Christopher. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.