A Leading Intellectual Magazine Rejected My Most Popular Article
Postscript to the Christopher Hitchens Review
Well, I wasn’t expecting that.
Last week’s article about Christopher Hitchens provoked a bit of reaction. The groupies on the Christopher Hitchens forums declared that it was nonsense. Advocates for free and open debate, they couldn’t rebut any of my arguments and instead tried to drown me in slime. Little did they know that I emerge from such attacks stronger and more ambitious, like a bespectacled Creature from the Black Lagoon.
What really surprised me was the number of positive responses I received. Owing to the generous praise of Tom Holland (the historian, not the actor) and Peter Hitchens on Twitter, the article attracted over 3,000 readers on its first day and thousands more since then. The number of subscribers here at Cosy Moments increased by over 20%. Last weekend, positive messages were coming in faster than I could reply to them. I am grateful to all of you and am chuffed to bits. I never thought a long, dense article would be so popular. Aren’t attention spans meant to be shrinking? Aren’t people hypnotised by YouTube? Aren’t careful, long-form pieces a thing of the past? No — at least, not on Substack.
The thing is, that Christopher Hitchens article wasn’t meant to appear on Cosy Moments. Back when I was freelancing, I was part of a Zoom conference with the editors of a prestigious and celebrated Australian cultural magazine. I had previously written for them, and in the meeting the editors talked about their plans for the publication and how they’re looking to attract aspiring writers. (I have been writing publicly for some years now, but I’m in my twenties and still have a lot to learn. I am also aspiring to marry a rich heiress with a house in southern France.)
Soon after that seminar, I heard about Mr Johnson’s then-upcoming book about Mr Hitchens, and asked the editors of the magazine if they were interested in me reviewing it. They said they were. They would contact me in a few months, closer to the book’s release date.
A few months later, I sent them a follow-up email. And another one. And another one. No response. They ghosted me.
It was around this point that I decided to start Cosy Moments. I’m glad I did. Not only do I have a tasteful, intelligent audience, but I can write without restrictions. I can cover the topics I like and write about them the way I want to. How many Australian magazines would publish a 3,500-word essay about Christopher Hitchens and the defects of his political liberalism? Zero. But you read it here on Substack.
On Cosy Moments you’ll find writing you won’t see anywhere else. I am not invited to fashionable parties in major cities, and I don’t follow any of the regnant intellectual trends. This makes me unpopular, and the mainstream publications won’t have me. I can only publish because of your support, cosy reader.
I run a small business in Sydney and work nights and weekends. Most of the work for Cosy Moments is done on the commute to and from the office. If you value my writing, please consider supporting it by taking out a paid subscription — it’ll give me the wiggle room for bigger and more ambitious projects. There will still be a free version of Cosy Moments available, but only paid subscribers will have full ongoing access to my writing, my worldview.
If you’re tired of the laziness and banality of mainstream cultural publications, then remember to support the independence of Cosy Moments by subscribing.
I find it funny that people who condemn fundamentalists (because fundamentalists tend to believe that only their current view of the world can be valid) do, at the same time, claim that views contrary to theirs are not worth considering because the author of those views must (without an understanding of the author's views) be a "bad" person. Here little or no attempt was made to rationally explain why the views should be considered invalid. [If they had done so then it would've be an opportunity for the author to grow in understanding. Instead it does the opposite.]