The Uprising Review is a literary magazine that celebrates freedom of speech and invites all perspectives and their unique voices. Founded just recently, the literary magazine is the brainchild of four minds: Everitt Foster, George Spisak, Stephen Willis, and W.O. Cassity.
I recently had the opportunity to speak to George Spisak about her experiences founding a literary magazine, the welcoming space Uprising provides for writers to speak their minds, and the magazine’s incredible ability to offer payment to their contributors in its birth year.
Rebecca Henderson: Describe for us the origins of The Uprising Review.
George Spisak: The Uprising honestly began as a conversation between some friends and I. We wanted to have a place where writers could write and submit whatever they want, regardless of their lifestyle and personal choices. All four of us noticed publishers who restricted content in a variety of ways, whether the content of the actual piece (i.e. no violence against women/children or piece must be written entirely vegan), or the author themselves (i.e. must be of a certain sexuality/race/gender, etc.), and we all agreed that we weren’t entirely comfortable with it.
I wholeheartedly support a publisher publishing whatever they want, even if they have restrictions I don’t entirely agree with. At the same time, we wanted a place that was as free speech as possible. Somewhere that the merit of a writer is determined by their writing, not a color/sexuality/gender or limited writing vein. We’re hoping that this freedom will enable conversations between writers and readers of all sorts, about all topics.
Henderson: Your mission statement emphasizes freedom of speech and a diversity of ideas. How do you think this sets you apart from other literary magazines?
Spisak: I’ve personally noticed many literary magazines with restrictions on what can and cannot be submitted to them. While I agree that this is every publishers’ right—a business owner should be able to control their content and public image—I also know that this isn’t what I want to see in the literary community.
Creative fiction is one of the safest ways to spur discussion about all sorts of topics. Whether it’s a straight-laced fantasy or a hard-hitting, gore-spattered horror, there’s room for growth and discussion of both reader and the writer.
Harder topics like social and political issues can also be safely explored in fiction. It’s the best way to explore the negatives of society and bring a discussion about. But if we’re restricting that by only letting certain people write certain things or removing the ability of writing about one thing completely, is the problem really going to be solved?
Henderson: Can you broadly outline for us the steps you took to establish The Uprising Review?
Spisak: Honestly there weren’t many. Will (W.O. Cassity), suggested that he wanted to start up this “free-speech” magazine on a social media site called gab.ai. The rest of us jumped on the chance to join. We made a Trello board (a site for organizing business and such), and did a few informal meetings on Skype and Discord to figure out exactly what we wanted this to be and how to shape it.
We’ve been hacking away at it since September (2016). Once January rolled around, we made weekly meetings to discuss and delegate tasks, figured out the website (thank you, Stephen Willis), and started accepting submissions in March. Our official launch is April 15, so we’ll have a few pieces up and will be publishing regularly from then on.
Henderson: What was the most rewarding aspect of founding this literary magazine?
Spisak: For me, it’s reading all the great submissions we get and sending out acceptance letters. I’ve been able to read fantastic stories from all sorts of people and I absolutely love it. Second to that, knowing that I’m making a small haven for writers of every walk of life to come together and just enjoy fiction again.
Henderson: What factors allowed The Uprising Review the opportunity to pay contributors?
Spisak: Literally Will. Without him and his fantastic business strategies and amazing human being-ness, we wouldn’t be able to pay contributors right out of the gate. As we grow, we hope to increase payment. We’ll see what happens in the future.
Henderson: Literary magazines often come and go; what does the future look like for The Uprising Review, and what do you find your biggest obstacles are?
Spisak: All four of us are looking at really great things for The Uprising. We named it something clever for that reason! In all seriousness, we’re hoping to continue to grow and develop as a magazine. We want to be known as a place for everything and anything writing-wise, quality included and ensured. Reaching a point where we are a respected and known place for writers everywhere is my main objective, and the others agree.
We’re a place for good literature, and that’s the be-all-end-all of it.
I think the biggest issue we’ll have going forward is growth. We’re four people tackling a rather large project and all of us have “real jobs” and writing on top of that. But, that’s a problem to tackle when we reach it. Right now, we’re at a scale we can handle.
Henderson: What advice would you give those wanting to establish their own literary magazine?
Spisak: Find some friends and spend a few months planning it. If you have the opportunity to be a slush reader for another place, I really do suggest it. It’ll give you a feel for one aspect of the magazine scene at least. You don’t need entirely detailed planning, but some basic framework for your goals, mission statement, and how you’d like to grow it forward is a must.
Henderson: Can you offer our readers any parting wisdom?
Spisak: If there’s something you want to do, do it. Find friends with like-minded goals or hack it out by yourself. If you want it, there’s going to be other people wanting the same thing.
Rebecca Henderson holds a Master’s in German and a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing. Best expressing herself through the written word, she enjoys the smell of burning rubber and can recite the ABC’s of the automotive world upon command. Rebecca hopes to shift your world perspective through her words, because looking out the same window every day hardly makes for an interesting life.