The world is a strange, dark and dangerous place. There are definitely times and places and venues where exploring that darkness, understanding it, making art while wielding its power is important and useful. But more often than not, I find uplift to be even more useful in beating back that same darkness and keeping hope alive that things can get better both in my own life and in the larger world.
I have no delusions that everything can and always should be happy-go-lucky. We all face trials that make us stronger when we take them on without shying from the challenges they bring. However, I do believe in the power of story to keep us afloat when times get hard. Stories can bring new perspective and a more positive outlook on life. It is said that books, movies, etc. are escapism. I say yes, they are, but that is not the a bad thing in the least when done with intention.
I’ll quote Neil Gaiman here, for he summed up my feelings quite accurately here:
Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.
Dragons, trolls, evil stepmothers, they all represent obstacles in our own lives that we face and must overcome. Story gives us a map, provides a pattern that we may follow, an example of how to look these monsters dead in the eye and fight for our own happiness.
There is nothing wrong with a story that has dark tones to it, but that does not always have to be the centerpiece of the tale, nor does it have to go to extremes. Not all stories must contain violent, horrific imagery that leaves a reader almost as devastated as the character that had to live through that experience.
Everyone has a right to read and write those tales if they feel drawn to them and I do believe they are important both for the writer and the reader. But I choose not to make Luna Station Quarterly a venue for those pieces. LSQ is built upon a foundation of uplift, of showing what women are capable of writing, of the stories only they can tell. It is not a goal of ours to show how women are better than men, but in true diversity, to show that we are equal yet still unique.
Representation is exceedingly important, that’s being proven daily as people step forward and question why they are not able to see themselves and their experiences mirrored in the stories they see on page and screen. As an editor, it’s a difficult balance to maintain so that LSQ represents and provides a space for lesser heard voices and experiences, which often have much darkness in them due to the very systems and environments that suppressed their voices in the first place, while still maintaining that overarching theme of uplift.
Uplift is part of why we have a policy against accepting stories that contain a large amount of violence in them and generally do not accept stories that contain explicit sexual assault. Oddly enough, I don’t think we’ve ever rejected a story for having too much bad language or positive sexual acts even though both would fall under the category of “gratuitous”. I would personally love to have to ask an author to tone down the f-bombs or a fun love scene.
Does there need to be peril, danger, excitement, intrigue and challenge to make a good story? Of course there does, those are what pull a reader in and keep them intrigued. And this mission of uplift is not as simple as “we don’t take rape stories” because the editors weigh each story for it’s importance and impact as well as its grammar and characterization. Sometimes a hint of a character’s violent past is necessary and we weigh that against the rest of the tale.
For now though, LSQ remains a magazine a bastion for stories of uplift. Sometime a thread of melancholy winds it’s way through our tales, sometimes death and darkness touches the characters within, but always there remains a focus on wonder and beauty and hope for a better world for all of us.