October 23, 2015
Dear Intrepid Readers,
“Where we’re going, we don’t need pages.”
In case you managed to avoid seeing Back to the Future II in the ‘80’s (lucky you, the movie isn’t that great)—you might not know that this Wednesday was “Back to the Future Day”: the date on the Delorean that Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel to in the future.
This week, I’ve read a lot of articles about Back to the Future II. Most of the authors agree that while the movie might not have been that great, what it represented—a hopeful vision of a better future—is the part that matters, and helped bring a lot of the futuristic inventions into being. It’s amazing how much the movie got right—and arguable whether it predicted these things, or influenced future innovators into creating them. Either way, it’s pretty interesting to see how many things that baffled Marty McFly are part of our everyday reality. Instead of focusing on the technology, I’m going to be thinking of the ways that our reading and writing has evolved over the same 30 years that Marty McFly traveled.
Reading all of these articles got me to thinking about technology’s innovations from a different angle. In my lifetime, I’ve seen the computer go from a hulking box to something that’s as slim as a book sitting on my lap. I am using a keyboard to create digital content and I will send this to my editor, who will then post it—no paper, no ink, no newsprint, no paperboy—and the content will be accessible from Santa Cruz, CA, where the content goes live, to everyone across the globe with an internet connection and the ability to access information freely (because don’t forget, even though we’re living in the future, there are a lot of places where citizens cannot freely access information). Even as a high schooler, I wrote many papers on a typewriter or an electric word processor, because computers just weren’t that common. I’ve often looked back to my undergraduate years and wondered what kind of an undergrad thesis I could’ve written if the internet of now had been available to me then. I attended a low-residency MFA program. I could not have attained the level of education I hold had it not been for technological advancement: computers, the internet, and digital reading devices (as well as electronic data hosting, posting and transmission) made it feasible for me to complete an MFA degree in less time than a residential, in-state program would have allowed. In my own way, I’ve seen the Back to the Future II world come to pass, and because of it, myself—and many other writers like me—have been bettered for that world becoming our reality.
I’ve mentioned this in previous editor’s letters as an anecdote, but it wasn’t that long ago that writers had to submit work to literary magazines by snail mail. Usually there was a reading fee in addition to your postage, and adding insult to injury, you had to send a SASE, so your rejection slip would come back to you, addressed in your own handwriting, and on your own dime (or 37 cents). There weren’t a lot of literary journals out there to send work to, and finding open calls for submissions was difficult. This wasn’t wholly a bad thing; because you had to work harder to find literary journals, and since they were print journals, and because these magazines were something you had to pay for, their perceived value was higher, and more would-be writers actually read the periodicals they were sending work to. Though there was more reader engagement, this was also the darker flip side. The opportunities were more limited, harder to find, harder still to break into, and limited to those who had the luxury of financial solvency or uninterrupted leisure time.
My point is this: the fact that I can write out this editor’s letter and revise as I go along without the copious use of White-Out, research other articles like it without combing through a dozen magazines and newspapers, send it to my editor, and post it to basically the whole world in minutes is nothing short of miraculous. It is a future that was hinted at 30 years ago in Back to the Future II that didn’t just actually happen, but happened better than we could have imagined it then. Technological advances and digital innovations have opened up countless opportunities for writers, small presses, and no one benefits from these advances more than readers. In 1985, a digital reading device like an iPad was still just a twinkle in Steve Jobs’s eye, and today, it’s the means that our company uses to deliver quarterly issues of NonBinary Review to readers, using the Lithomobilus reading platform. While our company may have divided loyalties when it comes to Back to the Future (I and II), we’re in agreement on one thing that comes from those cheesy visions of the future: the 21st century is a crucial turning point for human history, and we’re all here, sharing the moment together. This is a crucial point for our global community, because there are a lot of divisive issues that make a future 30 years from now feel uncertain, and in many cases, even hopeless. While we may not be able to directly influence the course of politics, the economy, or the environment, what we all can do is engage with each other by sharing our stories. The motto of Zoetic Press is “Humans are hard-wired to tell stories,” and it’s more than just a collection of positive sounding words to us. We believe that stories are what bring us together, what sways the pendulum of progress back and forth, what spins the wheels of fortune. We believe that stories unite us, and that stories shaped by the people will contribute to deciding what kind of world we want for the next 3o years, and the 30 years after that.
In 1985, Marty McFly didn’t have an iPad or an iPhone, and he couldn’t have downloaded any issues of NonBinary Review, whether or not they were free (we still wouldn’t charge you for them, even in 1985) So if you haven’t already downloaded the newest issue, 1001 Arabian Nights, we hope that you’ll take a moment to visit the iTunes store and install the app on your iPhone or iPad. It’s free and capitalizes on all this futuristic technology by delivering all six issues of NBR to enjoy on your device—no WiFi required for reading after you’ve installed the app! We’re still open for Woman in White submissions through the end of the month, so if you’ve been planning to submit to the issue, we’d love to read your work while the window’s still open.
If you weren’t able to attend our Litquake event, Mythmaking, at Litcrawl this past Saturday, we Livestreamed the event (more evidence that we live in the future.) Here’s what’s even cooler—if you missed the Livestream on Saturday, it’s archived so you can watch a live reading event at your leisure. This future business is pretty sweet.
If you want to enjoy all the ways living in the future has changed the way we engage with each other, go peruse the boards of our Pinterest page and see how we’ve created technology to help us post pictures of elaborate desserts and luxurious book shelves. We’ve also got loads of writing prompts that we’ve collected from our favorite writing websites, so there’s sure to be a couple that’ll help you get your creativity flowing, as well as silly writer memes to get you out of the doldrums, and inspirational quotes to remind you why you’re doing the work. If reading the work of other authors is what helps get the muse speaking to you, then download our app for iPhone or iPad and enjoy each issue of NonBinary Review completely free. On Facebook, you can follow our pages (Zoetic Press, Lithomobilus) to keep up with the latest happenings, online features, blog posts and book reviews. And if you like a more personal touch, we invite you to engage with us through the Zoetic Press Facebook group. All of our Facebook forums provide you with daily links to read new blogs, book reviews and Alphanumeric features! We’re also on Twitter (@ZoeticPress and @Lithomobilus), and you can even see some of our authors reading their work on our YouTube channel. If you’re interested in hearing more from us, sign up for our monthly newsletter. We’re serious about your privacy, and promise not to flood your inbox. Want to be a guest writer for Rhizomatic Ideas, or to profile one of our contributors? Send us a pitch at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a book you’d like to tell the world about, or know a writer that everyone should know? Send us your reviews and author interviews!
Until next week,