Submissions Interview Series
Becky Tuch, writer, instructor, editor and the powerhouse behind the Lit Mag News Roundup, talks about the literary community, what inspires her, and how to keep things fun with Trish Hopkinson in our new Submissions Interview Series. Hear how Becky started her substack newsletter, how to sign up, and what has helped her most as a writer.
Trish Hopkinson: [00:00:00] Welcome back to Tell Tell Poetry Submission Interview Series. Today, I am excited to chat with Becky Tuch: writer, instructor editor, and the powerhouse behind the Lit Mag News Roundup. She also founded the original website for the Review Review, which is how Becky and I first got to know each other. You email him online and that site is now hosted and run by Gonzaga University. So welcome back to. Hi, thanks so much for having me on. Oh, it’s a great pleasure to actually meet you virtually talk to you face to face.
Of course, the great support to me and so many other writers over the years, and it’s just always been such a pleasure to connect with you in the little ways that we have for social media and email.
Um, so I wanted to ask you, you know, really what was the original inspiration for creating the lit mag news Roundup and how you got that all star?
Becky Tuch: Sure. So I [00:01:00] started, uh, the review review in 2008, which was a, um, it was a lit mag review site. We reviewed literary magazines. We interviewed journal editors, we posted publishing tips, um, and there was a database of thousands of literary magazines.
And the purpose of the site really was just to kind of demystify the world of literary magazines for writers, because people get overwhelmed and there’s so many literary magazines out there. And I think people really just don’t even know where to begin. So I started that site and then. Somewhere along the way.
I think it was in 2010. I started a newsletter, um, associated with that site. And then when I sold the review review, I took a break. I stepped back. I was working on my own stuff. Um, and then last year around November, I realized that I actually really missed writing the newsletter. I, there was something in me.
I just wanted to do it again. I wanted to connect with writers again. Um, and I put out the question on Twitter. Do you [00:02:00] guys want this? Should I start? Should I start the newsletter again? Um, and the response was really positive. A lot of people were, um, they had been following it all these years and may they missed it?
Um, so that was exciting to me. So I started it again last year and, um, it’s just, it’s been a lot of fun and I think it’s been nice because. It doesn’t have the same pressure that the review review had. The review of view is like a full service website. And so I was doing a lot of backend work and tech work and stuff that I sort of got tired of toward the end, but this is just purely writing the newsletter, connecting with writers, having fun, telling them what’s what’s going on in the literary magazine world.
Trish Hopkinson: Awesome. That’s great. I think I was definitely one of the people that responded to the tweet.
I mean you talked a little bit about back in work and some of the other things and, uh, [00:03:00] but really like, what’s your process for generating a newsletter? Like you have, you know, set things you do and. Is it more and changing on you?
Becky Tuch: Um, so the first thing I do is look for gossip, which, um, it sounds kind of trivial, but it’s true.
Like I want, I want the newsletter to be fun and to tell people what’s going on. Um, so I just, you know, I spent a few hours sort of like combing through Twitter, um, and looking for not just purely trivial gossip, but things. Writers would want to know about, um, something happening in the lit magazine, some editor, you know, stepping down or an editor getting promoted, whatever.
Um, so I just spent a few hours looking for that. There’s usually not actually that much juicy stuff. So it ends up being very, um, you know, information-based about, uh, things that are changing in the lit mag world. And then I looked through [00:04:00] calls for submissions, um, and try to share as much of those as possible.
Trish Hopkinson: No, I appreciate it. When you always include me, that’s fun. I always get excited I’m right there. No, I, I appreciate that. And that’s one thing that I really love about it too. That is fun is that I never miss your subject lines. Right. When they come through in my email, I love how catchy they are.
Like usually you’re using like song titles, like yeah. Don’t you love it. Ella’s you’ve done your love lip mags, madly that one’s hard to see out loud. And then hello, lip mags, mild friend. That’s one of my favorites.
I mean, I think we did that before the review review, too, right? Like sort of made these catchy signs for your newsletter.
I’m just curious how you got started on that because it is super fun. It’s so creative. And I, I also look forward probably the most.
Becky Tuch: That’s great. Thank you for saying that. I actually, so one thing that was [00:05:00] funny was I got an email once from this guy who was so angry by those subject lines and he actually told me.
They put him in a murders, rage. Like he got so angry because I was using this. So I was like, well, I have to keep doing
And I actually, I asked around and people said, no, no, no, keep doing it. It’s fun. It’s great. It’s fine. And I think for me, something that was really important was introducing this element of playfulness into the process because people get really bogged down with the publishing process and trying to compete in the literary world and trying to find your place.
Understandably, it is incredibly stressful and demanding and. We have so many doubts and we have so many anxieties about our work and then trying to get past the gatekeepers and, you know, people can take that kind of thing very seriously and it can weigh on you. [00:06:00] So my, I see the newsletter as an important service providing information.
So people have, um, a greater sense of transparency and access to lick bags, um, but also sort of introducing the spirit of playfulness and fun and, um, to try not. To feel to, to, to not be too hard on yourself in the submitting process and sort of like with the business aspect of writing, because it can really, it can bum you out, you know?
So if the newsletter is like a source of, um, cheer for people and inspiration and hope and playfulness, then. That’s a good thing for me.
Trish Hopkinson: Yeah. I think that comes through so well really. Um, when I, I really enjoy reading them because it is, you know, fun and I mean, you really pull that clear through all of the content.
You know, there’s always sort of a, a fun, you know, perspective. And I, I really appreciate that. I think it’s. It really does make it more accessible. Right. It’s you know, it [00:07:00] doesn’t, it’s not so high brow, which we all need less of.
So, uh, what has surprised you the most this time around doing the music?
Becky Tuch: Um, that’s a great question. I think a few things, um, one is how much I am enjoying it because I, I felt like, you know what, I’m going to do this until I stop enjoying it. And I haven’t had that healing with our review reviews for the, I love doing the review review, but toward the end, it was just like another thing to do. It was another thing weighing on me.
Um, and with this, I haven’t had that feeling of. Kind of like, Ugh, you know, like dragging my feet to the work. It’s just been really fun. Um, I think because I control the timing, there’s a lot more flexibility with it. So that’s been a really pleasant surprise, but, um, wow. A year has gone by already. I was like, h my gosh, it has been a year.
So, yeah, I mean, I think that’s, that’s where I’m coming from with my website too, you know, in the first few years I was posting something like every single day, but I was also doing a lot more. Of my own research and learning during that time. So those posts, I mean, the reason why I was sharing them was because it was information I needed to seek out.
Um, and then over time I started to be more flexible with it and sort of just look for the things that really did bring me joy or that I really wanted to do. I’ve just kind of really focused on those and that’s how I think I’ve kept it going to, if I tried to continue what I had started the first years I would have burned out.
What you’re doing also is you’re building a community. And once you start to do that, it gets [00:09:00] easier because you feel like you’re connecting with specific people. And that’s been said to me too, is just the feedback that I’ve gotten from people, which is, it’s just so nice. People are so nice. And that’s been a really pleasant surprise, and, um, the support and engagement and people. So I also interview editors, um, as part of the newsletter and people show up, they attend the interviews, they ask questions or , um, and that’s just, you know, you never know when you start endeavor, if people are going to be into it, if there’s going to be that kind of response, and there has been.
Trish Hopkinson: Yeah, no, that’s excellent. And it does, it does get easier too, because the more people, you know, yeah. Like I used to have to go digging around and try to find, you know, which ones are, who will let me, who will fill out my interview, you know, and that sort of thing. Um, and of course I found efficiencies ways to sort of streamline my process and reuse, you know, uh, different materials and things like that.
But it’s great now because I literally don’t have to look at. [00:10:00] Or like, Hey, how do we get on there? And I was like, oh, Yeah, you you’ll work out here. Here’s my interview form. It’s a lot simpler. So it doesn’t take the amount of time that it did originally. So, Nope. That’s awesome. Um, let’s see, what else? Oh, um, so, you know, speaking about, you know, connecting in the literary community, um, what do you think you’d like to see more of?
What do you think we’re missing?
Becky Tuch: There, this is a tricky question. Cause I, I always think about this when I’m using the hashtag literary community on Twitter. You know, it’s a funny thing because the literary community is certainly not monolithic, right? Like there’s. The crime writing people, which probably don’t have much overlap with the literary magazine people.
So I don’t, I don’t know. I don’t want to speak for the entirety of the literary community. Cause I think it’s so, it’s so vast. Right. But, um, one thing that excites me is when I see calls for [00:11:00] submissions or opportunities for people sort of outside the kind of MFA. Complex, if you will, you know, we’re very invested in diversity now, which I think is great.
And I also like to see diversity of backgrounds and experiences. So when they’re they’re lit mags that, you know, have a call for submissions for nurses or a call for submissions for, um, I dunno. Garbage truck drivers or anything that’s sort of like outset or parents or people who are like, have sort of been working outside the academic track.
Um, that excites me because I think it’s, it’s bringing in voices that are going to be different and going to have different perspectives. So I think there is more of that happening, um, increasingly, and I, I just think that’s a great.
Trish Hopkinson: No, I love that. That’s a great response. That’s that it kind of inspires me to watch for, you know, a little bit more closely, I’ve certainly picked up several calls that are pretty focused that way. And I really think that the ones that have themes that inspire people to also write something new. Um, I liked that as well. And then it’s always great when you can cross, you know, a writing hobby or talent with something that’s part of your day to day.
I think is brilliant and I’ve never really been able to effectively do that with my software day job. One of these days, I’m going to figure out how to do that. I wanna write a poem about working in it, you know, for a major corporation. I don’t know. I’ll have to come up with something eventually so far.
Becky Tuch: Yeah. Well, it would be, I mean, it’s an interesting perspective, you know, and I think, um, that’s work is so much, it’s so much a part of people’s lives and there’s so many people who. Maybe you got your MFA 15 years ago or 10 years ago, you know, and you just feel like you’re sort of out of the loop and you’re not up to [00:13:00] date with, you know, you don’t necessarily feel that connected with what’s going on.
So I think, um, the more opportunities for people who are sort of outside, um, Kind of ethos is, is great.
Trish Hopkinson Yeah. No, that’s great. That’s an awesome response to that. What do you think has helped you most as a writer? Because we give like one thing. I know just one thing.
Becky Tuch: Speaking of being helped as a writer, having a six-year-old is not been the most productive. Um, but I. I don’t know. I mean, so many different things help, but you know, so many different, um, you know, they come from with it being inspired by some personal thing that you just can’t let go and, you know, it can feel like it’s haunting you, but that is actually your fuel as a writer [00:14:00] so that, you know, just something inside of you, it can help at times.
Other times you need that support from the community. You need readers, you need classes, you need workshops. Um, sometimes you need. Go on Twitter for two minutes and feel like you’re not working in a vacuum by herself. Um, sometimes it’s just reading, you know, reading other reading books and getting inspired from, from other writers.
So it’s different things at different times. Um, and I, I don’t know if there’s any. Helped me, it just kind of trying everything. And I always think of this, there’s this great interview with, um, Leonard Cohen, the songwriter it’s kind of bleak, but somebody asked him what helps you when you’re struggling?
And he said nothing, but he said, you know, he’s tried booze and religion and friends and, you know, he’s tried everything and nothing helps. Um, which is awesome. The inverse [00:15:00] of that is that everything helps, you know, you’re just right when you’re trying to make it work, you’ve just try whatever you possibly can to make it work.
Trish Hopkinson: What I really like about what you just said is that there, there does seem to be seasons right? To. How we write and how we interact and you don’t have to be productive all the time. I mean, there are those people who can just, you know, they write a poem a day or they do, you know, they, they really are prolific and they could just put out a ton of content.
And then there are those of us where, yeah. I mean, sometimes we just need to be on social media and I’m like, forget, write something. And it’s, it’s perfectly okay. And it’s different for everybody. And I think you’re, you’re right. That there are so many different things that we can do. So many tools at our disposal that, and also it’s okay to take breaks, right?
Like, you know, sometimes I don’t write a poem for a few months and then. And I just give myself [00:16:00] permission to do that.
Becky Tuch: Yeah. I think knowing yourself as a writer is key. Like for me, some days I have to set a word count to get the work done, and then some days it’s just not, it’s just not happening and sort of saying, you know, that’s okay because you know that next week you’re going to do the work.
So sort of understanding your own process and trusting that is, is key.
Trish Hopkinson: That’s great. That’s a great way to, to wrap up that, um, conversation. So, so speaking of which, uh, what are you currently working on or what’s next for you?
Becky Tuch: Sure. Um, so I’m working on a stories and then I’m working on a longer project, which, um, that’s all I’ll say about it.
It’s a longer project. We’ll see what happens. Um, it’s very much in its, uh, early vulnerable phase. Um, so we’ll, we’ll see, uh, yeah, but, [00:17:00] uh, short stories and this, this longer project and then the newsletter.
Trish Hopkinson: Awesome. Awesome. Well, that sounds exciting. I’m kind of looking forward now to see where you land with that as it starts to evolve.
Um, yeah, this has been just such a pleasure. Um, how can viewers sign up for the lip mag news Roundup?
Trish Hopkinson: Perfect. All right. Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for joining me today and, um, we’ll be in touch soon. Thank you, Trish. This is great. Yep. My pleasure. Bye.