Editor Interview: Toylit
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Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.
Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?
A: 1) I admire the ethos of mid-twentieth century science fiction magazines. Instead of attempting to broaden their appeal, the editors instead trusted that their aesthetic instincts had a destination. The best ones gave the opportunity for young and undeveloped writers to become Robert Silverberg and Brian Aldiss. 2) I admire the moxie of zine publishers, even if I don't admire anything else about them. 3) The eXile still does my favorite journalism and I'd like to think that Toylit is for those readers who need a more literary approach to their news-myths.
Q: If you publish writing, who are your favorite writers? If you publish art, who are your favorite artists?
A: I'm going to sound like a bigot for saying this, but I really don't like most mainstream literature. I've just given up on the editorial taste of mainstream publications (invaded by sinecure-seekers) and spend my time on the internet fringes, looking for delicious words. As far as 'high' fiction is concerned, well, I'm a big fan of Whit Frazier and Chaim Bertman. The two famous, living poets I love are Louise Gluck and Mark Strand. I know that for the latter, the feeling isn't reciprocated (he blocked me on Twitter)(so stay away from your heroes lest they reject you!). As far as less mainstream poets, well I met Jack Granath and Mike Best via Toylit and both of them reminded me once again that if I want to be excited and scared by poetry, I need to look outside mainstream venues. Perhaps this reply was rambling, but I don't care. I stick by it!
Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?
A: First off, there's no way anyone publishes anything close to what I publish, because most people are incapable of thinking outside of genre boundaries. I know that sounds cocky, but it's a fact. Antinews is a literary ethos that replaces the narrative undercurrents that exist in news with literary ones. Ordinary news is designed to engage our reptile brains. Antinews is an attempt to reach the cerebral cortex directly. News is reductionist. Literature is expansive. News is reactionary. Literature is proactive. News is expository. Literature is symbolic. News uses archetypes. Literature transcends archetypes. Furthermore, I am Toylit. My lifetime experience of 120,000+ hours reading and 30,000+ hours writing have given me a unique editorial perspective. The only difference between an orderly and a patient is who has the keys. That is to say, I am an intense writer and I can spot another intense writer a mile away.
Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?
A: 1) Don't write expository compositions. I hate that shit. 2) Write on RECENT events. I don't want your canned preserves from two years ago. 3) If you can't write something interesting on the fly, then I don't want your writing. The whole idea is that Toylit publishes literature that should be PART of the news cycle, NOT its afterbirth. 4) If you are a pro-tip follower (either from your MFA program, Natalie Goldberg or something else), then you probably write the sort of literature I hate. 5) If you still don't have a sense of antinews, you should read Toylit until you do. Or just read it, unless you're one of those people who refuses to read any publication that won't publish them.
Q: Describe the ideal submission.
A: This is an example: http://toylit.blogspot.com/2011/04/americka-guest-news-poem-by-mike-best.html In a way the poem violates many of the rules I gave to you, but I think that's important: if you need axioms to properly conduct yourself, you're probably incapable of writing what I would publish.
Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?
A: They write canned compositions, or just write crap. I think they see 'blogspot' and presume I have no standards whatsoever.
Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?
A: Identity is bullshit. If your piece can't stand on its own, why do you think politics is going to impact my editorial decision? Haven't you been reading this interview? No, your past work only matters to me AFTER I've accepted your composition. I think that this practice is responsible for killing literary magazines. Editors don't trust their own taste anymore. Worse, the literary community in America is so insular, they fear alienating potential allies. You can rest assured that I am America's most irritable poet and that I have no problem alienating potential allies. This is not to say I have no interest in an author's past work, but I refuse to let past work determine whether I find a composition acceptable. If it can't stand on the page, it doesn't stand.
Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?
A: I am ok with inspired roughness, but if I think it sucks then I am not going to keep reading. As an editor, my job is to enforce the standards my readership expects from me. If I can't make it through the piece, what makes you think my readers can?
If I make a mistake, you should argue with me. Unless you're a fool, in which case your email address will get thrown into my spam folder. As always, good judgment is a must. If you don't have good judgment, then why are you even trying to write antinews?
Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?
A: None. I am judge, jury and executioner.
Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?
A: I am not a passive editor: I seek out new life and new literary civilizations and boldly go where no self-aggrandizing jackass has gone before! Basically, I try to read and respond to a submission as soon as possible. There is no process, save whatever process a lifetime of close reading can confer to me. I read for pleasure and for error. That's the most I can say.
Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?
A: Publications should reflect the reading ergonomics of one's targeted readership. That's the only 'ought' I'm willing to apply. I use twitter, but dislike the other venues. You're talking to the guy who originally distributed Toylit through the public restrooms of San Francisco; I believe in surprising the reader. Tech is a means and not an end. If a technology brings readers closer, then great.