Reverse Birth Order Blogging (or What We Learned From Our Little Sister)

by Mar 24, 2016

Birth Order in Practice

I was a senior in HS when my brother was a freshman. Up until this point, I barely recognized him as a human living in our house, let alone an actual being with redeeming intellectual and creative properties. That fall, I felt weirdly proud to have family in the halls; we drove to school together, played in the same small cello section in the orchestra, I introduced him to student council…I did all the things that made me feel like the responsible and decent older sibling, setting this boy right in the world.

Then, I sat back on my high perch like a lifeguard, watching him in the water and something incredible happened. This boy, while certainly tolerating my mini-parenting, became his very own person. And dare I say, maybe even a better version of the thing I thought I was creating. He was smarter, more charismatic, and more imaginative than I ever knew him to be or gave him credit for becoming.

Lessons from the Punky Little Sister

We often affectionately joke around The Creative Writing Program offices that Runestone is the punky little sister to Water~Stone Review. There are so many similarities and the familial origin is obvious. But this little sister has taught us a thing or two about navigating this new world of literary journals.

WSR started in a time when the idea of an email was still a little absurd. Our first go at social media came in the form of MySpace. (I anguished for days choosing the right Django Reinhardt melody best fit our mood.) From there we watched as Facebook, then Twitter, now Instagram, and particularly blogging became necessary ingredients to the successful print journal. We saw our contemporaries redesign their print worlds around this new medium, with great success. If Poetry Magazine and The Paris Review could do this, then certainly we little ships could make our own modest leap into the 21st century seas. The material and insight of The Kenyon Review and The Missouri Review and so many others became even more relevant, more daily. Because writing around these journals DOES happen everyday. Not just once a year, and not just by the journal’s contributors.

But we still dragged our feet on the digital shoreline. Understaffed and underfunded, we watched the others in the water. Lifeguarding in this way is weirdly safe from risk and even work. We relished this role of observer. We avoided all the action. Our beach was safe.

When Runestone showed up, we had a little action again. It was time to climb down and show her the ropes. We ushered the little idea around the halls, drove her to Submittable, introduced her to a bunch of our friends. But it never occurred to us that she might have her own lessons to share, that she would create something worth emulating. Classic big sister mistake.


Evolution of a Know-it-All

Big sisters are, by nature, know-it-alls. But finally, our eyes are open. We are inspired and we know to evolve.

After watching the older, more established journals, successfully navigate the world around us–and now witnessing our baby sister launch out from behind us into a realm of warmth and success with such ease and delight–we too want to become a better version of our imagined selves.

New and loyal readers alike will come to expect:

  • Interviews — of our own staff and editorial board members as well as contributing and visiting writers
  • Reviews — of books by our contributors and of other journals
  • Articles — about the creative process in action behind the scenes of a literary journal and in the mind of the emerging writer.

Welcome to the WSR blog: an extension of the care and quality poured into our print journal, now with the injection of verve and vitality inspired by those who came before, and after us.

… And now Instagram:

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