In light of the recent Tin House submissions controversy, maybe you’ll enjoy this brief exchange between ZYZZYVA editor Howard Junker and an anonymous author [my correction: she was not a former student of Junker’s as I had previously posted, but rather a writer he had published at one time] who required her class to submit their stories to literary magazines.
In April, the author wrote him to let him know that she had required her creative writing class to submit stories to magazines, and some of the class had decided to submit to ZYZZYVA. Junker posted her message on ZYZZYVASPEAKS, which begins
I thought I’d give you a tiny warning that you may have a bunch of submissions coming in from my students. This semester I am teaching a “Writing for the Professional Market” class, an upper level course in publishing, consisting of creative writing majors. For their final in the class, they must submit a story to a journal of their choice: their very first submission.
In the same post, he replied with a few questions, one of which was
what right do you have to use me (or any other editor) in this way—as the brunt of your homework?
Several months passed before the teacher discovered Junker’s post (I’m unclear as to whether or not Junker replied to her original message; there doesn’t seem to have been a ‘dialogue’ between them in the meantime). Anyhow, she wrote him back, and Junker again posted her message, in which she justified the assignment by saying
My intention for having them submit was largely to expose them to literary journals. Most of my students (and most undergraduate university students, I think) had never even picked up a literary journal. Assigning them to submit at the end of the semester: a) forced them to treat their stories with a bit more seriousness than usual, since they knew that someone would be reading them besides their classmates, b) encouraged them to thoughtfully read and consider the literary journal they wanted to submit to, and c) gave them the actual experience of putting a submission together.
No word as to how or if Junker responded, though his brief note at the top of the most recent post probably sums up his position:
Creative writing is an act of free will; by definition, it cannot be done on assignment.