Friday, November 24, 2023

Six Questions for Vivian Huang, Editor-in-Chief/Founder, The Cloudscent Journal

 The Cloudscent Journal publishes fiction and creative nonfiction to 2,000 words, poetry (up to three), and art. “We only accept work from young artists ages 12-25.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Vivian Huang: Our start was a wild ride, to be honest. I started The Cloudscent Journal in 2022 on my own, with nothing other than an Instagram account, a Twitter account, my limited Wix knowledge, and no direction other than a sole mission to do something for the young writers in our community. As a young writer myself, it was difficult seeing that there was still a lack of a space that was fully and definitively for us and thus wanted the opportunity to create one myself. Since then, our journal has grown as a space where artists can express themselves in any way, shape, or form, and a place that dedicates itself wholeheartedly to young creatives.

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

VH: When we evaluate submissions, there are no criteria in particular that we check for. No checklist, no rubric, no score. But if there were three elements that are in pretty much every single piece we accept, they would be fearlessness, honesty, and originality. Our journal prides itself in being a space of expression, and these three elements are what we believe to encapsulate the core of what that is. We want work that is unafraid, brave, and genuine. When a work is unabashedly created in any way including structure, subject matter, or even in little ways like the title, it intrigues us. In every world, there is always a good and a bad; a black and a white. Here, we want the spaces between, the gray nobody talks about. Because those are the places where people find themselves being the most honest; there are no rules to follow, no expectations, no limits. We love a piece that can give us everything it can; we want to see everything an artist can offer. 

(An honorable mention to the word "voice." We were itching to include it but we believe that if a submission is brave, raw, and completely the writer's own, the voice will emerge itself inevitably.)


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

VH: When a submission is reckless and doesn't follow our submission guidelines. A reckless submission often includes anything on this limitless list: consistent grammar errors, spelling errors, exceeds our word limit, visually difficult to read (I've received countless submissions that I had to dissect for them to be decipherable for my editors), work that is completely untranslated, and anything that makes it obvious they did not spend any time on our website at all.

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

VH: Anything that evokes curiosity. An opening line serves to draw readers in, and I'm not exempt from that. I want to be the reader that is drawn in by just one line, or even one word. 

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

VH: Ooh, I've never thought of this before! I want to be cheeky and say "Nuvole Bianche" by Ludovico Einaudi (literally Italian for "white clouds"), but I'll go with "blue" by keshi because that's just the vibe of our journal: calming, desperate, and limitless (and very blue).

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

VH: I would have loved to have been asked about our future plans with our journal. The biggest thing we're planning on doing in the next few months is creating a new "Resources & Features" section to our website. We want to include opportunities and advice that are made for young writers like other literary magazines, inspiration, competitions, submission tips and more! The Cloudscent Journal hopes to expand its mission, and we believe this is a vital step to do so.

Thank you, Vivian. We all appreciate your taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

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