PR is fortunate to have Montgomery College student interns each semester to assist in and learn about literary magazine production.  When they’re not working on spreadsheets, compiling lists and creating publicity, they spend time in a weekly course designed to introduce them to the many aspects of creating a magazine. A few weeks ago, the interns–Amanda, Ceileigh, Daniel, and Tranetta–met with Juked’s editor, J. Wang, to find out about online magazine publishing.  Later, they compiled their thoughts below.  PR is proud of their enthusiasm for all things literary. Darned proud.

ImageOn February 25, we – the Potomac Review spring interns – had a guest speaker in class, Professor John Wang. He talked about running Juked, an online literary magazine as well as the process behind submissions, rejections and all things in between.

It was an interesting class and although some of us – like Ceileigh and Daniel – are probably never going to run an online mag, we now have some resources to use if we ever do! But Tranetta is going to take what she learned from the presentation and do something awesome!

John Wang spoke not only from the perspective of an experienced editor, but also someone who simply has a zeal for literature and a fierce love for words. Tranetta was enthralled regarding how Juked started—with four friends who simply loved to write and decided to publish their own creative works onto the web. During the 15 years it has been running, Juked has changed from a simple blog-style website to a full online magazine; as the website gained readers and popularity, the style of the writing and the sources of the work evolved, going from being all the work of a few friends to a literary magazine based on only outside submissions. That beginning also left a strong impression on Daniel – the way that the shared respect for writing helped a magazine develop out of just a bunch of friends publishing things online.

No matter who the person is, or what they’ve accomplished in the writing world, it always seems to come back to one central theme: letting the passion you have for words and writing take you. Tranetta finds this particularly true when reflecting upon Dr. Wang’s academic background. He originally started out as someone on the opposite end of the spectrum with a focus in the sciences. But eventually, his relationship with writing began to demand more–and gave him twice the amount he gave in return. Dr. Wang’s enduring dedication to writing encouraged Tranetta – and the rest of us – tremendously; not only as student interns in this program but also as people trying to find balance now as undergrads.

As Tranetta wrote, “Between work and school, it can be incredibly easy to lose sight of the reason I’m here–and for me that reason has always been writing. No matter how distant I seem or how empty my tongue seems to be, my motivation for being in college and doing practically all that I do is truly due to the intense marriage I share with words. I was motivated to really understand the process Dr. Wang took with not only the creation of Juked, but also maintaining the publication online and on paper (in the form of a chapbook), because the relationship Dr. Wang shares with writing (and has always shared) seemed to become greater as time went on.”

We interns even learned a little about website design from Professor Wang, who not only chooses which pieces get published but also codes the website from scratch in HTML, and takes most of the photos used as sidebar/background images to boot. (He has a very nice camera, and is generally skilled at everything.)

Dr. Wang also showed us a cool website for online publishers, Submittable, which is different from the system the Potomac Review uses. And some of us learned that we’re severely lacking knowledge in the computer code area… Heh. This combined well with the graphic design skills we’re learning this semester – even if we’re not up to the task of coding websites from scratch yet.

The sheer amount of work Professor Wang pours into the magazine, between the editorial oversight, coding, and pictures, is a good model for all of us about how much a drive and a love for literature can fuel the passion behind a magazine.

It’s also an inspiration that the work of Juked isn’t a for-profit enterprise, but stays true to its friends-on-a-blog origins in that it doesn’t aim to make money. John Wang has never monetized the site, with advertisements or paywalls, and even the print issues – which cost money for the printing – are put online for free after the next issue has come out. On the Juked website, he prefaces the donation section by saying: “Amazing fact: we have never made a single penny. We’re proud of this accomplishment, the way someone riddled with bullet holes but still standing might be proud.” His commitment to writing is so great, that it motivates him to do all the hard work of putting the literary magazine together without making money off it, and  is another sign of the power of writing.

Instead of its being simply focused on the relationship he shares with words, the magazine seemed to encompass discovering the creations of others and the relationships they also shared with words, which eventually led to its becoming more of a massive, diverse publication of the work of others compared to before where it was simply what he and his friends wrote.

What struck Amanda over and over again was how he clearly cared about the readers. His whole ideal wasn’t to produce or provide amazing opportunities for authors or writers, but to give his readers fun and interesting things to read. It struck her because long before she was ever a writer or an intern, she was a reader.

It was both refreshing and a relief to know that all the hard work we’ve been putting in to assembling a lit mag isn’t just to put interns through hoops or to fill idle hours, it’s for the sake of readers like us, out there hungry for the things we can give them.