You’ve queried your favorite editor, maybe that agent you met at a conference. They indicate an interest to see your book. Once you’ve finished your happy dance, you immediately send off the book (electronically). Maybe hours, days, or even months tick by, and when the agent/editor tries to open the file, they can’t. Fingers crossed, they’ll ask for a new version (I do), but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
The life of a book, from the moment of creation to the point of publication, will require constant pivoting. This includes being knowledgeable about the file format(s) of your book.
Water~Stone Review is a literary journal produced by the The Creative Writing Programs at Hamline University and publishes work in creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry from both established and emerging writers. The journal is a collaborative project between faculty editors, MFA student editorial board members, and Minneapolis College of Art & Design student designers and photography curators. Beginning in 1998, Water~Stone is currently in the process of curating its 20th volume.
I recently sat down with Managing Editor Meghan Maloney-Vinz to talk about literary journals and the roles they play not only in the literary landscape, but in our cultural landscape as well.
Last month I got to have a wonderful, meandering conversation with creative non-fiction writer Jordan Thomas about his reading and writing, and we also covered the topics of Jayden Smith, Obama’s fatherhood, the school to prison pipeline, masculinity, religion and churches, the trajectories of black and brown artists, and much more. Thomas, possessing of a lively mind, a sharp sense of humor, and bounteous gifts as a writer, is someone who we definitely want to watch. He, lucky for us, moved to Minneapolis a few years ago to attend the MFA program at the University of Minnesota and is in the same cohort as previous LitChat interviewees D. Allen and Roy Guzmán. Thomas is hard at work finishing his thesis this semester, which will be a collection of essays on, among other things, his relationship to blackness.
Ottessa Moshfegh writes from another world. She wields human cruelty and hypocrisy with a kind of unapologetic swagger. Her newly published collection Homesick For Another World should leave little doubt about her talent and capabilities. The stories in this book feature ugly human behavior written in a deft and singular voice. It’s a gloomy triumph of hard truths. One of the major motifs is the relatable feeling of otherness; characters who are unsure of where they belong and how to exist in a world that doesn’t feel like home.
I tried to hold my head high, walking through the downtown Minneapolis skyway alone, juggling a big white box in my arms. A kind stranger rushed over to help when the bottom of the box started busting at the seam. Why did I ignore the option to have my box mailed? For free?
When that mysterious private appointment showed up on my calendar that morning, I knew what it meant. After eight miserable years, I was losing my job at a major retailer. Rumors had been flying about major layoffs for months.
Meet the arbiter of arboretums. The expert on emergency room etiquette – yes, it’s a real thing – and the maven of manicures. Never knew such experts existed? Neither did I – at least not until recently.
Through my career, I’ve been the graphic designer and at times even the illustrator, but never the copywriter. At work, copy came to me almost anonymously, usually by way of a project manager. Ping! An email would come in, “see attached copy,” it might read. But I never really considered where the copy came from, or how it came to be. But then I got curious. I wondered whom these Johnny-on-the-spots and wordsmith wonders really were, and how they did what they did.
It comes with every job, whether you're a copywriter, playwright or bricklayer; we all get feedback. And we all hate it. Here are five tips on keeping your cool and maintaining your sanity.
Always love your worst idea.
Early in my career, I thought I could outsmart a demanding client by presenting two half-baked ideas and one that I loved. I figured they would, of course, see my brilliance and choose the one I was most passionate about, allowing me to indulge my personal creative jones. I'm sure you can guess what happened. They chose the concept I almost considered a joke. Inside, I was humiliated and outwardly, I was frustrated. I was stuck working on a project I did not believe in. I coined a phrase I utter to this day, “Always love your worst idea.” If you can't find passion in your least-liked idea, get rid of it and come up with something new. Don't start out at a disadvantage, lead with your best stuff.
Poetry City USA began as an anthology of poems read at two Twin Cities reading series: The Great Twin Cities Poetry Read and the Maeve's Sessions reading series. In 2015, Poetry City USA opened its submissions to everyone, with a mission to cultivate and showcase contemporary poetry and poets. As founding Editor Matt Mauch explained, the journal also has a mission “to take AFA students, and former AFA students, at the Twin Cities two year creative writing programs and introduce them to publishing, to what it’s like to work on a national journal, and to give them that kind of experience that they wouldn’t otherwise get.”
I recently sat down with Mauch, Editor Patrick Werle, Production and Senior Associate Editor Sandra Youngs, and Assistant Managing and Associate Editor Kayla Little to talk poetry, the editorial process, and how to get your poems submission ready.
Books are generally a source of comfort for readers. What the readers may not realize is it the rollercoaster of emotions that any author experiences while creating those books.
If there’s one thing I will always honor, it’s an understanding and appreciation of authors putting themselves out there, being willing to share their stories hell or high water. As an agent, I am used to seeing this side of the creation of a book, but there’s only so much I can do. It’s generally understood that in order to survive publishing, rhinoceros skin is required. It takes time to develop this protective covering, but it’s guaranteed it’ll help any writer survive the pre- and post-publication process.
What are some ways to tackle those insecurities?
In my day to day life, I find these gems everywhere. The compulsion to collect them is unavoidable. I want to say that novelists covet reality, but I don’t think that’s it. I don’t crave reality so much as images of reality. Clipped from their context and vulnerable to the mischief of juxtaposition, images have more license—more value—than reality. You read about something, you hear about it, and you absolutely want it. You must have it. Often, this is how stories and novels begin, with the author’s glimpse of something she can’t unsee. In a famous example, Nabokov describes the “initial shiver of inspiration” behind Lolita, “somehow prompted by a newspaper story about an ape in the Jardin des Plantes, who, after months of coaxing by a scientist, produced the first drawing ever charcoaled by an animal: this sketch showed the bars of the poor creature’s cage.” Now that I think about it, Nabokov’s choice of words—his “shiver of inspiration”—point in another, more intuitive direction. Perhaps what you want, as a fiction writer, is not so much the image as what’s behind it. Of all the bricks stacked together in a wall, there’s something about that one, right there, that calls to you, that promises a treasure behind it.