Chuck Young is a guy whose name I keep seeing all over my Facebook news feed, he is clearly driven, it is visible in how active he is via Facebook. I have been aware of his writing since I started Microscenes in the beginning of winter when he submitted a short piece about birth. When I found out about Chuck’s involvement in the Newer York I got pretty curious so I sent him a few questions.
How long have you been involved in the lit world, and how much of that time have you spent focussed on online publishing?
I have been managing editor at theNewerYork Press for a year. Before that I had been putting my writing up on my tumblr dot com for two years. Before that I had put all of the work I had done on a novel I was working on up on a Blogspot just so I could feel like it was out there. Before that I had been doing a twitter account where all of the tweets told a continuous narrative. Before that I had a Myspace page where I only put up excerpts of the novel I was working on. Before that I had been working on a novel for two years based on the experiences I had while being in a band. Before that I had been in a band for five years that toured and put out records where I worked to have the words on the page resemble literature as closely as possible while also sounding okay as verses and catchy choruses. While doing that I was studying words and the various ways to put them together at film school.
I’m not sure how others would define the lit world, but it feels like I’ve been living in it for the last thirteen years or so. I didn’t really get involved with online publishing until I saw how people were using twitter dot com and later tumblr dot com. Kfan and Fireland come to mind as accounts that introduced me to the other side of the lit game. I don’t think it was until 2011 that I stumbled onto theNewerYork and started submitting my stuff around to the various online journals I happened upon within my daily internet journeys.
Print vs E publishing. What are the ‘pros’ of print publishing if you aren’t making money from it?
Print vs. E: I’d say do both. I think that’s what I really like about what we’re doing at theNewerYork. We do a print issue once a year and have an online catalog that grows year round on a consistent basis. I think having a great online presence but also having some print in the mix is the way to go, is the best of all worlds.
I think maybe doing print publishing feels more legitimate to people? Because they know that more was at stake as far as the creation is concerned. That someone went through various channels to get something physically into your house and into your hands by spending time and money. I’m not sure. I’m definitely not a printophile or someone that collects vinyl or anything. But, I do see the value in it.
I think the idea is that there are more opportunities to make money by doing print. The idea that somehow things are going to fly off of shelves and then there will be a demand and the more that get sold, the more the potential arises to make some money. We’re playing around with different ways to get artists paid, whether it be a donation button on individual pieces on the website, doing posters, doing the print issues, doing newspapers. The goal certainly is to, at some point, be able to make money as a company and share that money with the artists.
You submitted a few pieces to my monthly zine, Microscenes, when I was doing that. How do you feel about this new wave of zines and quarterlies that are kind of, at least at the moment, the pinnacle of alt lit?
I think it gives writers an amazing opportunity to feel heard. I know, for me, it helped me get my work out of solitary confinement. I had gotten used to having a platform while doing the band. That my shit would see the light of day at some point and then be readily available for people to ingest. When that phase ended, the stuff I was doing was for my eyes only. And that fucked me up. I no longer had a venue. And it was, I don’t know, lonely. So, I kind of felt like I was able to return to some sort of community and have context again. I know this speaks to some sort of ratio of narcissism to insecurity but that’s who I am and I’m dealing with it.
Do you think the emergence of so much talent giving away their work for free online is a good thing?
I just think it’s the world we live in now, really. Is it a good thing? Sure. I think the idea is that the stuff you do for free will lead to opportunities to do something for money. I see the internet working as performance art and also taking the place of the notebook, you know? You can use your blog, your Facebook, your twitter, an online journal to write stuff that ten years ago you might’ve written in a notebook. I think we’re compiling all of these things and then going back to them when working on something larger. At least, that’s how I see it. You can see someone like Heiko working something out via a facebook status and then a couple weeks later see the finished piece up on Thought Catalog. Whereas before, you wouldn’t have been privvy to the demo process, you know? It would’ve been a solitary act. Something about that is beautiful.
I think we’re getting used to having our lives documented online through social media. It only makes sense to use it for your fiction just as much as for your non-fiction. I certainly don’t think it hurts to give your work away for free. It seems to work towards a greater good all around. I may be naïve though.
Are you working on anything yourself at the moment?
theNewerYork stuff is crazy at the moment which leaves little time for me to do my own shit but I’m constantly revisiting and abandoning a larger work that is part One Night Stand Whodunnit, part Sci-Fi/Stoner Adventure Tale, part Children’s Book About Death. I’m hoping I’ll buckle down on that at some point and get it finished. In the meantime, I write things here and there and should have some stuff published in the next couple of months via various cool online journals.
What are the best freely available things you’ve read so far in 2013?
In the interest of mentioning things that haven’t already had the benefit of your spotlight (i.e Pop Serial, Mammal, Sins of Omission), I’ll say Haters Rag killed it. I also really dug everything Tully curated for his month over at Publishing-Genius.
In the interest of showing gratitude for some things I was lucky enough to be involved in, Gesture 5 crushed it and KCAI’s Lil Sprung Formal was dope as eff. Lucy Tiven’s I Am Not All Water for Nap was something that I read very recently that I thought was super good, as well.