By : The Downtime Review
7 min read
“What if we started a lit mag?” A question posed out of boredom between co-workers at a job that has nothing at all to do with literary journals, publishing, or anything of that kind. Almost a year later, the “why not?” that followed is preparing to publish its second issue as The Downtime Review, a Boston-based literary journal dedicated to promoting the work of “writers with day jobs” and providing free feedback to everyone who submits.
Jack O’Grady and VJ Jones, the founding editors of the Downtime and co-workers at a consulting firm downtown, began their collaboration as writer and editor on a few short stories. They quickly discovered that they shared not just a love for writing, but also an interest in how creatives working jobs outside of their passion could stay connected to their chosen artistic community. This desire to nurture their own writing practice—and a bit of extra space on their calendars—brought them to the idea for The Downtime Review, a magazine made to highlight the work of writers like them, people who could only put pen to paper in their downtime. As they explored the concept, downtime evolved into more than just a recognition of the only time some writers had to work. It began to feel like a kind of rallying cry for workers everywhere to protect their passions from the ever-encroaching demand for “productivity.” There’s a reason their logo is a pillbug: sometimes you have to roll up into a protective ball of non-compliance if you want to stay sane.
So “what if we started a lit mag?” turned into a lit mag. But the mission was never just to start a publication. Jones and O’Grady aspired to “support the improvement and platforming of emerging authors.” This led them to ask, while preparing their submission guidelines for the inaugural Fall 2023 issue, “what if we sent feedback for every submission, for free?”
This commitment to providing constructive feedback to every single author who submits has become the core of the Downtime, its primary means of giving back to the literary community while drawing the focus, always, to the craft of writing. Everyone who submits work, whether it’s accepted or rejected, gets at least three points of feedback: what the editors loved, what could use work, and an idea for something to try during revisions.
The Downtime published their first issue in October 2023 with eight stories by retired and current teachers, an environmental hazard inspector, small business owners, and a “recovering journalist.” Artwork for the issue was provided by Ananth Udupa and Elaine Zhang. The magazine’s second issue is open to submissions until February 15th for publication in April 2024. Looking forward, the Downtime is hoping to continue asking “what if” and answering with more “why nots” as they explore new avenues of support they can offer the Boston literary community. They encourage anyone with some downtime and a story to tell to submit their work at downtimereview.carrd.co. They can also be found on Instagram at @the.downtime.review.
—The Downtime Review
Originally published in-print in Boston Compass Newspaper #165 January 2024
Check out all the art and columns of December's Boston Compass at www.issuu.com/bostoncccompass