Publishing an indie lit mag is oftentimes thankless work. Lit mags cost a fair amount of money to run, and they generally have an incredibly low margin for profit, especially in their first years. They are born and maintained as labors of love, crafted by tenacious individuals and teams with genuine affection for the work: to my knowledge, there is no community quite like the writing and publishing community.
On the one hand, I’ve been told to piss off by writers whose stories had been rejected. I’ve been told that I don’t know or appreciate quality work, and that I should consider changing the criteria by which I select stories for the magazine. The list goes on and on. Of course, I happen to be a deeply sensitive cry-baby who has shed tears on almost all of these occasions. At times, these instances have made me question myself, my vision for this magazine, my capacity to run it, and whether or not I should continue to do so. Justin always tells me to toughen up. But I never will ... I don’t want to, maybe. Why might that be?
I think it's because, on the other hand, there have been a number of positive encounters that have also moved me to tears over the last year, both directly and indirectly. These encounters are what bring me back to Novel Noctule when unexpected criticisms or unkind words knock me off kilter. Without naming names, I’d like to use this month’s editor’s note to enumerate a few of these occasions. This, in the spirit of giving thanks to those who brought joy to me and rejuvenated my spirit when the stress of starting and running this magazine brought me down. Thank you to:
The (7) patrons who have signed up to support Novel Noctule financially this year. I never thought that anyone would care enough to do so, and I celebrate you (loudly and quite often). You are appreciated more than you know. Thank you.
The NN staff members who work hard without pay because they believe in this magazine and in my vision for it. Your faith in me keeps me going. I hope that one day, I’ll be able to offer you more than my infinite appreciation and love in return for your dedication.
The writer who called Novel Noctule “a very necessary corrective” in the realm of weird horror mastheads. This was one of the most meaningful compliments that I’ve ever received as a publisher and editor.
The writer who, unprompted, tweeted a heartfelt congratulations to NN on making it through our turbulent debut year. This made me feel seen at a time when I was questioning myself severely.
The writer who wrote on their personal blog that NN was the only magazine to give them personal feedback on their story, and that this feedback helped them make the edits that got their story published. This was incredibly validating.
The writer who told me that my feedback helped them get their first-ever poem published after they’d previously been homeless and had to teach themselves the art of writing; the same writer who is now determined to have a story accepted by our magazine. This came a few days after I had been told to piss off by another individual, and it came on the very same day that I was told that I should reconsider my selection criteria. You made me cry (in a good way), and you gave me my confidence back. I await your next story patiently.
The now-lit-mag-publisher who started their magazine after inquiring about NN’s journey and innerworkings. I’ve read your first issue: It's lovely. I’m infinitely happy to have had a part in your magazine’s inception, no matter how small.
The horror reviewer who had good things to say about our young publication back during our failed flipbook phase; all of the people who bought our failed flipbooks during our failed flipbook phase.
All of the writers who responded kindly to both acceptance and rejection letters this year; all of the writers who continue to submit to NN in good spirits and always seek to improve in their craft. You are absolutely invaluable.
All of the readers who are interested in the work that we publish. You are absolutely invaluable.
Anyone who has ever said a kind word to anyone at NN, ever. We are human, and we are all terribly anxious ones at that. It means a lot.
Toughening up too much might mean not crying when I experience these soul-lifting encounters in the future, and I'm not sure that I'd ever want that. My world has grown exponentially because of you all. So, thank you.
*On the morning of November 27th, 2020—just a few hours after finishing the editor's note above—I received word that my grandfather passed away in hospice. My family and I are now in mourning, but I am also terribly grateful. I am grateful to my grandfather for shining an indelible light in all of our lives for so many years.
If you have people who shine light in your life, please do remember to tell them just how much they mean to you while you still can. J.D.
Artwork by the Novel Noctule team.