Friday, January 20, 2023

Six Questions for Grace Zhang, Editor-in-Chief, The Lunar Journal

The Lunar Journal publishes prose to 2,500 words and poetry to 1,000 words. “We are looking for writing that inspires the soul and evokes the ethereal, stories that will pull us together despite how far we may seem.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Grace Zhang: The creation of this magazine was pretty spontaneous, to be honest. Writing has always been something incredibly close to my heart, and I wanted to create a community that would be able to share this passion with our readers. From the start, my goal in creating The Lunar Journal was to spotlight writing from underrepresented writers and share diverse perspectives from people across the world.

SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?

GZ: First, we definitely appreciate meaning when we read a submission. The more impactful the writing is, the more likely we are to want to share it with a larger audience. Metaphor and allusions are especially useful here. For example, you could connect an everyday situation (eg: a trip to the grocery store) with a larger idea (eg: a relationship to one’s cultural background).

In a similar vein, we want to see originality in your work. As an emerging literary magazine, diversity of thought is one of our most important factors when deciding which pieces should be published. If your writing conveys a new and interesting perspective that challenges the reader’s thinking, we will be much more likely to accept it compared to a piece that repeats a series of cliches.

Finally, clarity is paramount. Though we greatly appreciate reading long sentences of flowery imagery and diction, we encourage you to use these literary techniques only when necessary. Ultimately, we want to read work that does a good job balancing lush imagery and concrete thoughts. This is especially crucial in prose submissions, where the plot is at the center of the piece.

SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?

GZ: The worst thing that can happen in a submission is when they don’t follow our guidelines. Since we have a relatively small team of editors, we set restrictions on the number of pieces per person so that we have sufficient time to look through each submission. We also strongly dislike graphic depictions of gore/sex, especially as a youth-led publication.

SQF: What do you look for in the opening paragraph(s)/stanza(s) of a submission?

GZ: We honestly don’t have much preference for how the piece begins, though we do have a soft spot for writing that is able to engage the reader using just a few lines. Writing style is especially important here; we enjoy reading works that use imagery and details to convey some sort of deeper meaning.

SQF: If The Lunar Journal had a theme song, what would it be and why?

GZ: The Howl’s Moving Castle OST by Joe Hisaishi reflects exactly what our magazine aims to be to our readers. It’s a gorgeous, comforting piece that calls to mind the endless realm of possibilities present in life. In this way, it really highlights how, at its core, The Lunar Journal is a collection of diverse experiences from writers all across the world.

SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?

GZ: What are your future plans for The Lunar Journal?

One of my top priorities is to properly compensate our contributors and staff for their work. Though we currently don't have the funding to do so, I’m thinking of turning The Lunar Journal into a paying market sometime next year. In addition, I’m looking forward to expanding the journal and hosting live poetry readings or online writing workshops. Creating free, accessible opportunities to help writers improve their craft is something that is incredibly important to me, and I hope to continue along this path in the future.

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