Recently, Inklette had the privilege to interview the three head editors of Textploit, an online magazine dedicated to displaying the works of young writers and artists of all sorts.
Inklette: Could each of you introduce yourselves?
Siqi Liu: I am a freshman at Harvard College, and I’ve been writing ever since I could remember. I love stories and daydreaming, so fiction has always been my sanctuary. My first real writing project happened when I was in seventh grade; I wrote a 300-page novel about princesses and dragons, and from then on I’ve retired to mostly short stories and poetry. In high school, I was a reader and executive editor for Polyphony H.S. My work has appeared in publications such as Imagine Magazine, Polyphony H.S., Dialogue Humanities, and Suddenly Lost in Words.
Ella Bartlett: I am a freshman at Barnard College, and I have been writing since the age of 9. When my English teacher named Mr. Brekke told me I had enough potential to submit to a contest in 10th grade, I think that’s when writing was solidified as the art form in my life that would never disappear. I have won two national medals in the Scholastic Writing Awards, and you can find me in the Cadaverine, Necessary Fiction, Crashtest, and Polyphony HS.
Natasha Lasky: I have written all my life and I started to make movies when I was twelve. I started writing because I love books and words; I started making movies because I saw Blade Runner. I’m from the bay area, and I’m a freshman at Harvard with Siqi.
Inklette: How would you describe Textploit to someone who had never heard of it?
Natasha Lasky: Textploit is an online magazine by and for teens. Above all we try to be honest to the teen experience, which for us means publishing things things that are raw, unique, and funny–things that other literary magazines wouldn’t touch. We feature all forms of art– photo essays, diary pages, road trip playlists, reviews, DIY guides.
Inklette: What makes Textploit different from other literary magazines?
Ella Bartlett: Two main things I think make us different from other magazines out there. One being that we consider any type of art that can be put on a website. Be it film, multimedia, haikus, original music compositions– we don’t discriminate based on form. Write six thousand words or six words: we publish anything that we consider good art. Second, is that we value the teenage experience. We think that a good story written about a high school relationship is equally “artful” as a story written about a relationship between two middle-aged people. We want teens to have a space to write what is close to their hearts and not feel like they have to write an “adult” story to write a good story.
Siqi Liu: There’s a strong visual component to our magazine because we pair art with every piece of writing we publish, which is rarely seen in other literary magazines. We also publish every other day instead of, say, once or twice a year, so we generate a larger volume of published pieces than most other magazines.
Natasha Lasky: I think calling Textploit a literary magazine is a little bit a misnomer. I feel like “literary” often becomes kind of a euphemism for elitism and pretension, and in this way I think our spirit is definitely more zine than literary magazine. We want to publish work that is risky and unpolished, that is serious but doesn’t take itself too seriously, by people who have never published anything before and who wouldn’t think of publishing themselves in literary magazines.
Inklette: Who had the idea for Textploit, and what was it like making that idea into a reality?
Ella Bartlett: Natasha, Siqi, and I met at the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio in 2013, and we managed to stay in touch. When Natasha said to me last year, “Hey, I got this really cool idea,” I jumped right in. It was so cool that we could take our love for writing and our love for each other and create a project like Textploit.
Natasha Lasky: To expand on Ella’s answer, I think we were all a little bit dissatisfied with the landscape of teen publishing, as it felt either infantilizing or pretentious. When I thought of the idea I came to Siqi and Ella immediately, as they are both ambitious, talented writers who also happen to be two of my favorite people of all time. Developing Textploit was a collaborative process, and it is as much theirs as it is mine.
Inklette: So Textploit publishes in a wide variety of literary formats, ranging from poetry to videos to playlists to instructions for DIY Friendship Earrings. Did you try to cultivate this diversity of mediums or did it just happen?
Siqi Liu: We definitely had the diversity of mediums in mind when we were coming up with the initial concept. We knew we didn’t want to be a writing-only magazine. We thought something exciting would happen if we start mixing mediums, and it did.
Ella Bartlett: It kind of just happened, honestly, but we also wanted it. Apparently, teens want to be able to express their ideas without limits, and if this is the best way teens can do it, we will publish it.
Natasha Lasky: From the very beginning we wanted to have as much diversity in mediums as possible. One of the benefits of being an online magazine is that you’re not limited to publishing poetry, prose, and art — you can publish music and video as well. I think this is more true to the way teens express themselves, as most people haven’t picked what kind of artist they are by the time they’re twenty. At least in my case, even though I write, I also make movies and do collages and compose terrible angsty songs on the guitar. I feel like I know a lot of people like that.
Inklette: How do you think your web page redesign will change things?
Ella Bartlett: The only change to the new format is that we are publishing Monday, Wednesday, and Friday instead of every single day of the week. This really enables every artist to be valued and to bask in the space that we allow them to take up. The issues will also be every two months, instead of every month.
Natasha Lasky: I think the redesign will less change Textploit’s vision, but rather refine it. As I’m sure you’re experiencing with Inklette, as a relatively new magazine we are still trying to fine-tune our voice and our publishing process, and the redesign will help us with that.
Inklette: What’s your favorite piece that you’ve published to date?
Siqi Liu: It’s so hard for me to answer this question! I am a huge fan of all of our regular contributors, such as Inara Baker who adds a lot of quirk and diversity to Textploit with her DIY columns (How To Make A Secret Compartment Book is a personal favorite ) and Tad Cochrane (who recently became our music editor) who is always daring and honest in his personal essay columns. I also love Rachel Tse’s photography.
Ella Bartlett: That’s a very hard question. Rachel Lin’s film, Punk in 5 Parts, is so honest and so well done, and to be honest, film isn’t a form of art I have taken much time to appreciate before I saw Rachel’s. That being said, we’ve gotten some fantastic music (My Soul Side Journey has written some amazing pieces) and poetry- so much amazing poetry. Check it out.
Natasha Lasky: This was way back in the first issue we ever published, but I’m a big fan of Liam Brooks’ Facebook Official. It captured the voice of a horny seventh-grade boy in such a funny way! Also every story by Lucy Silbaugh is an absolute gem.
Credits: John S. Osler III (Prose Editor)