Nearly seven years after we first began, The Seventh Wave is beginning a new chapter for our community-built magazine.
Starting with Issue 16 in 2023, we now offer two different ways to get involved with our organization and community—our digital magazine and our digital residency program—doubling the number of people we get to work with. And in 2024, we’ll be launching #TSWIRL, a community hub for writers and artists around the world.
- The Magazine. If you have work that is ready to be edited and worked on toward publication—and work that aligns with our chosen issue topic, of course—our digital magazine is for you. We publish one digital issue per year, elevating up to 32 artists and writers, and there are now two submission windows—one in winter and one in summer—to increase accessibility. The bedrock of our organization has always been our digital magazine, which seeks to elevate urgent and oft-underrepresented voices. Our editorial style and process is intimate: you’ll have an orientation with fellow contributors, one-on-one calls with your primary editor, and an up-to-four-month editorial process wherein you’ll work with two editors toward publication. There will be hints and whispers of community and collaboration throughout, as our editorial mantra has always been: We publish people, not pieces.
- Digital Residency. This process-based program is for folks who are seeking community and resources, but not necessarily immediate publication. Our Digital Residency is a months-long, multi-session cohort-based program that deepens your relationship to your work. The overarching goal of this program is to introduce writers and artists to different kinds of writing and artmaking. As such, each session is equally generative and restful, guiding you through one aspect of the writing or creative process, and welcoming in established authors for roundtable talks that bring the publishing process to life. This is the perfect incubator for a manuscript, or an idea for a new piece you know you need to write. It’s also ideal for those thinking about MFAs, as well as those who have just completed one and want to keep a foot in the literary world. Our first Digital Residency will open for applications in January 2023. This program costs $650, but scholarships and payment plans are available.
- #TSWIRL Community Hub. For folks looking to join or stay connected to a literary community and/or are earlier on in their creative journeys, we’re building an online community hub just for you. The #TSWIRL Community Hub (which stands for The Seventh Wave in real life) provides you with special access to our monthly community offerings (for example, concrete tips for cover letters or 7 ways to make your residency applications shine); exclusive interviews with renowned authors and artists that will embolden the way you approach your work; and discounted and waived fees for our submissions and events — all for just $7 a month. If you’re a writer or artist who wants an anchor for your work or creative practice, this hub is for you. #TSWIRL is slated to launch in early 2024.
How did we get here and why are we heading this way? Scroll on to learn more about the full extent of this shift.
At The Seventh Wave, intentionality and accessibility are at the heart of everything we do.
Ever since we began in 2015, we’ve endeavored to be as inclusive as possible in our offerings, staying nimble to respond to the ever-changing literary landscape. As a BIPOC- and queer-led organization, we are committed to meeting folks wherever they might be in their creative journey, and we made these critical changes because we are committed to creating community in the digital space and knew we needed to find a sound and sustainable way to do so.
The first thing we built wasn’t a magazine, but a community.
For us, creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We are writers and artists who require collaboration as a part of our process. We wanted to imagine a space like this for digital magazines: where we could work alongside our contributors, championing not just their work, but who they are as a writer or artist in the world today, celebrating their immediate and eventual successes. Our in-person residencies, which began in 2016, did just that.
Our bi-coastal residency program gave us a place to anchor our digital issues.
Before the pandemic, we published two digital issues per year. Each one was tied to one of our bicoastal residencies: Bainbridge and Rhinebeck. We loved this program, as it allowed us to work with and alongside 25% of the people we published in real life: 4 of the 16 voices we published in each issue. This is a rare thing for a digital literary magazine.
When the pandemic hit, we knew there was no such thing as “going back.”
Like all in-person events and programs, our bi-coastal residencies were put on (indefinite) pause in March 2020. We didn’t know if they would ever return, but that’s also because we didn’t know if we’d make it through the pandemic, especially as we started to see some of our favorite magazines and outlets closing their doors.
So we did what we do best: adapt. We took everything we loved from our in-person residencies—the quiet collaboration, time that’s space and space that’s time, flexible disciplines, un-MFA workshops, and unmoderated exchange—and tried to design a virtual space that didn’t feel so virtual at all. We called it our Editorial Residency and turned it into a $500-grant opportunity, since we no longer had the overhead costs of an in-person residency. In this format, we guided a cohort of four artists and writers through a 5-month, 7-session virtual experience.
We were shocked by how much we, and our residents, loved these virtual gatherings. All of us were beyond “Zoomed out,” and yet, these virtual sessions felt so human, full, urgent, and nourishing. Of the experience, one of our 2020 Editorial Residents wrote:
“The virtual aspect of the residency didn’t take away the magic of what it is. Rather, it solidified that our closeness, our vulnerabilities, and our joys exist beyond physical space.” — Dena Igusti
Another 2020 Editorial Resident wrote:
“One of the main reasons I was able to continue writing, editing, and building community with other writers this year is because of Seventh Wave. The group became my writing & literary family for five months and I loved that we were able to talk about our concerns, big questions, writing tips, favorite Korean RnB songs, and our joy.” — Michael Frazier
And a Spring 2021 Editorial Resident wrote:
“The structure of the residency makes sure to reinforce your creative life, not overwhelm it.” — Alysia Gonzales
It was encouraging to us that that space—in fact, this space—could be so human. That we could forget about Zoom, the mute button, and the days we just had, and instead just be together. It’s all we ever ask of our residents: to show up for each other, but also for themselves. To bring their qualms and their questions, their frustrations and their musings. We had always hoped that these two-hour sessions could feel somewhat like a dinner gathering of guests: agenda-less and deep.
“I love that art was everyone’s goal. That we all had big questions of how to communicate the self in this world. That is what I want to be talking about and working on always, and everyone was present and loving for that work.” — Teri Vela
The Editorial Residency Program, among many things, revealed to us a giant hole in the world of publishing.
It wasn’t until we started to consider what it would look like to “go back” to hosting our in-person residencies that we really saw the void that our Editorial Residencies filled. There were things that we could do with a virtual residency that we couldn’t do with our in-person ones: artists and writers from around the world could collaborate in real time together (in each of our cohorts, we had several international residents and others scattered across the states); we had fewer barriers to entry, as transportation costs and time away from work were no longer obstacles; and, the virtual format collapsed the distance between emerging and established writers. As a celebratory end to the Editorial Residency, we hosted an eighth “Bonus” session, which invited established writers to join the cohort for a one-time intimate talk. Each cohort chose one writer they wanted to have the chance to speak with, and each time, those writers really showed up for our residents: Kaveh Akbar, Ruth Ozeki, Taylor Johnson, and Billy-Ray Belcourt. We are still processing all the insight they offered.
It’s never the first idea that’s most important, but the next idea that it leads you to.
Sensing the tectonic shifts that were occurring during the pandemic in relation to bandwidth, boundaries, and need, we experimented with our third Editorial Residency in the fall of 2021, doubling the number of residents by providing a grant to 8 artists and writers, which meant we guided two cohorts of four residents over the course of five months. We wanted to know: Is this virtual residency format sustainable? Is this environment, 20 months into the pandemic, still reaching artists and writers where they’re at?
The answer to the latter question was, overwhelmingly, yes. We found that the cohort-based experience was something that writers still desired and that ultimately helped them stay close to their creative cores amid the chaos of the everyday. We saw friendships bloom, and were so heartened to see residents supporting each other long past the end of the program. We felt we had hit upon a really special format, and so tried to expand our offerings with the creation of the Digital Residency in early 2022, wherein everyone we published took part in a 3-month, 3-session residency, working alongside one another toward publication.
True sustainability requires adaptability and constant care.
Though we had deep love for our Digital Residents, we realized that we had entered a new era of the pandemic, one in which the demands of life were roaring back into being, and burnout was eclipsing everything. Trying to guide 15 residents (split into cohorts of 5) through a three-month residency program on top of working with them on their pieces began to feel a little more precarious. As a team, we asked questions of bandwidth and whether or not the idea, though great in theory, was delivering on our core values of intentionality, breath, and one issue at a time. Ultimately, we voted as a team to press pause on publishing in the fall so that we might spend that time having conversations and strategizing a new way forward that leaned into all the things we did best without exhausting our resources. Which is how we came upon this model of three offerings: the magazine, the Digital Residency, and the #TSWIRL Community Hub.
The magazine is our “what,” the residencies are our “how,” and the community has always been our “why.”
In reflecting back on our past seven years, what we realized is that we had created several different programs that could benefit writers at different stages of their creative journey— and that it made the most sense to separate those out so that folks could opt into different offerings depending upon their needs. Hence, the magazine is for writers and artists hoping to publish their work; the Digital Residency is for those looking to dig deeper into their creative practice; and the #TSWIRL Community Hub is for those seeking community and creative spark. And once published or an alum of our Digital Residency program, writers and artists are eligible to apply for one of our three in-person residencies. We decided to make the Digital Residency and the #TSWIRL Community Hub paid programs to lean into our identity as a community-built magazine and to value the time and dedication of our growing team of writers and artists. We hope these changes will ensure that we can keep the lights on over at TSW so that we can continue offering these opportunities for more writers and artists.
Who knew publishing could be so human?
We can’t wait to continue innovating in this (digital) space. We are so grateful to our staff of 15, and to every artist and writer who entrusts their work with us. These changes also simplify a lot of our organization efforts, and so we’re even more excited to be able to find new sustainable models for literary magazines today.
For any questions about the submission process or otherwise, don’t hesitate to get in touch: email@example.com.