The Future of Electric Lit is All About You

A letter from the editor

Dear readers,

Electric Literature is sparking some exciting new goals and projects, and as the new editor-in-chief, I want to share what you can expect from the future of the site. It’s going to be welcoming, wide-ranging, intimate, curious, and hopefully — dare I say? — electrifying.

Over the last eight years, Electric Lit has built a loyal and energetic following, many of whom are writers, aspiring writers, and other members of the literary community. We love you and hope you never leave us, and we will continue to bring you your favorite EL content—like interviews with up-and-coming authors, criticism of exciting and important new work, and the choicest hand-picked fiction from Recommended Reading.

But we also want to get back in touch with what made you become a reader in the first place. And we want to reach out to new readers who may not be part of the literary world, but whose lives have still been shaped by books and stories. Literature isn’t just about the required reading you may or may not have done in high school. It’s about the way we transmit our hopes and fears, our cultures and philosophies, our uncertainties and identities, through the medium of the story. If you’ve loved a book, if you’ve shared a book, if you’ve been changed by a book, if you’ve had an excited conversation about a book (any book!) in a bar at 2 a.m.: we’re talking to you.

Essay Submissions are Open!

And we hope you’ll talk back. To that end, we will introduce a new question every few months as a prompt for personal essays — questions that aren’t just about the process or analysis of books, but about the effect of books, the feeling of books, the way books make us feel electrified. The first prompt will be: What is a book you read in secret? I’ll be back in a few weeks to talk more about this question, what kind of stories you might tell about it, and how to submit, but I’m excited for you to get thinking, and I’m even more excited to tell you the name we’ve come up with for this series: Novel Gazing.

Of course, it won’t really be navel-gazing; we want you to look outward, from the works that influenced you to the people who might feel the same. Perhaps more importantly, the books won’t always be novels. They won’t even always be books. Maybe you’re interested in television, movies, art, dance, theater. We certainly are! Electric Lit has already been publishing some terrific work about film and TV, and we’re also going to give special attention to stories that bend or break the limits of the book in other ways. In the coming months, we’ll introduce you to stories published as pixels, stickers, cards, puzzles, 20,000-square-foot art installations, and tattoos. The book is a wonderful vehicle for a story, one of my favorites — but literature is much bigger than just the book. It’s the size of your life.

I want Electric Lit to be a place where we’re talking about what books mean and what they could become, how stories shape us and how we shape stories. I want to mimic the feeling of having that excited conversation about a book in a bar at 2 a.m. And I hope you’ll join us — by reading, by writing, or by becoming a member. Your support helps us pay writers, bringing you more and better content — and it also gets you other perks, including access to the full Recommended Reading archives, over 250 stories hand-picked by authors, presses, and Electric Literature staff. Our current membership drive is extremely cool: If you join in August, you’ll get a set of seven “Literary Witches” postcards, featuring portraits and poems from the upcoming book Literary Witches: A Celebration of Magical Women Writers. These are sold out, so you can’t get them anywhere else.

I’ll be sending more letters like this one, including letters introducing the Novel Gazing prompts. If you want to get them first, make sure to become a follower of Electric Literature on Medium.

So welcome, or welcome back. Let’s get started.

Can’t wait,

Jess

About the Author

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