In the October issue of Writer’s Digest, we featured an essay called “Literary Legends.” Phil Sexton, who recently wrote the book Legends of Literature, wrote this essay for us based on his experience of combing through the Writer’s Digest magazine archives—87 years worth.
Some of the treasures Sexton discovered on his journey: articles by
A.A. Milne, H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Isaac Asimov and Stephen
King. An announcement of the arrival of “hot, new writer” F. Scott
Fitzgerald. An interview with Ernest Hemingway that hadn’t seen the
light of day in 40 years. And on and on and on.
I loved reading this piece. Yes, I’m a literary geek so I get into this sort of ephemera.
But the weight of editing a magazine with this much of a legacy behind
it can be daunting. A magazine is, necessarily, in continuous
evolution. It has to be contemporary in order to appeal to the next
generation of readers. And balancing the legacy with the need to move
forward is always a challenge.
It’s kind of like living in a historic house. If you own an old house,
you soon realize the house doesn’t truly belong to you; it belongs to
the families who lived there before, the families you’ll pass it along
to, and to the community.
Taking care of a magazine during a tenure as editor is similar. You
have to honor it, care for it, and modernize it enough to move
gracefully into the future.
So community, tell me: How would you like to see Writer’s Digest move into the future? Let me know. I’m the caretaker and I’m paying attention.