When Longleaf Review first began publishing in 2018, its mission statement expressed an intention to honor the unseen, the forgotten, and the multi-identitied:
Longleaf Review was inspired by Zora Neale Hurston’s work for the WPA collecting folklore in the turpentine camps of Florida during the 1930s. The men and women working and living in the longleaf pine forests were often overworked and overlooked in society, yet they each had stories to tell and songs to sing that reflected and affirmed the joys, sorrows, and in-betweens of their humanity.
As we head into this new year, more will be asked of us all in nearly every way we define labor. Some may find themselves commuting to offices, cubicles, or coworking spaces. Others may be clocking in more permanently from their homes, cars, and corner cafés, simultaneously caring for children, spouses, parents, and neighbors. More still may be out of the workforce, navigating unemployment, or experiencing unprecedented loss, while others will further isolate, quarantine, or pod.
For twenty-two months, we have used screens in ways that have stretched our connection to the world around us. We have celebrated, mourned, created new worlds, and destroyed old systems. The literary landscape has changed, too, with numerous outlets falling dormant or folding altogether. And as the ground continues to shift beneath our feet, we must rebalance, recenter, and revise our practices.
Working against the grain of constant production begins with changing the frequency with which we produce and the demands we place on our community. This is why Longleaf Review will be taking a step back from our quarterly issues in 2022 to pilot a biannual publication model: an unthemed spring/summer issue, with a call for work open February 1–28; and a themed fall/winter issue, with a call for work open August 1–31.
As writers and editors, we question everything, and that should begin with ourselves. We strive to be humanists in this approach: how can we better support the creation, publication, and promotion of creative writing? In what ways can we collectively revise our systems to create a stronger foundation and a more sustainable future? And why is it that we feel compelled to create in the first place?
With these questions in mind, we acknowledge that we cannot ask for labor — either from the writers we publish or from our all-volunteer staff — without also making space for rest and reconnection. Whoever you are, whatever you do, however you create, we want you to be out living this one big life and pursuing something that brings you happiness. Not stressing about getting published, not fretting over scattered submissions windows. Write for the sake of writing, to respond to what you experience by making sense of it on the page. We’re not necessarily saying you need to write more; writing, like living, is a deeply personal practice, one that all too often invites a “despair and compare” mentality. You don’t have to do it all, but we believe you should be able to do more of what you want.
This biannual pilot additionally supports Longleaf Review’s efforts to create more equitable opportunities for those looking to gain experience on the staff of a literary journal. If we say we want you to go outside more, to feel that you can step away from the screen, to be more empowered to write for the sake of writing instead of the drive to publish, we need to practice what we preach. Our editors, genre readers, designers, and media managers are all writers who have stepped up as literary citizens and into roles that help foster opportunity. They are also caregivers, scientists, educators, business-owners, students, and more. This team is our heart, and we wouldn’t be here without them.
Piloting a biannual system means we can extend our submissions windows from ten days to one month, giving you a wider time to polish your writing rather than rushing to send it our way. It means we can spend more time reading, engaging with, and considering your art. It means we can find new ways of supporting you while you’re actively writing, not just when the work is done. One such way is our new monthly community write-ins, held every first Friday at 1 p.m. Eastern and open to any and all who may be seeking accountability, community, and dedicated writing time. You can learn more and register here for our first session on February 4. We also look forward to adding to these spaces later this year with editorial drop-in hours, where you’ll be able to work one-one-one with a Longleaf editor to workshop a phrase, line, paragraph, or creative idea.
In this year and all years ahead, Longleaf Review commits to maintaining an awareness for the whole pack so that we can all stay together. We are and will remain a platform that questions what it means to be human: to feel joy, to be angry, to be flawed, to reconsider, to remember (and be remembered), and to always be learning.
Keep bringing us your heart, your grit. We’ll keep our hands open, ready, and waiting.