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Editor Interview: Storyscape

Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.

A: Truth, Untruth, & ???.

Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?

A: Esque, Memorious, Drunken Boat, Leveler, HU Queer Press (check them out!), Diagram, Fringe, Versal, Collagist, Memoir(and).

Q: If you publish writing, who are your favorite writers? If you publish art, who are your favorite artists?

A: Fiction: Joan Didion (fave for nonfiction too), Mary Gaitskill, Jennifer Egan, Alison Bechdel, Amy Tan, Sherman Alexie, Grace Paley, Kiran Desai.
Poetry: Wallace Stevens, Tomas Transtromer, Gerard Manley Hopkins, T.S. Eliot, Emily Dickinson, Jean Valentine, Kate Greenstreet, Matthew Dickman, Michael Dickman, Sapphire.

Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?

A: We go out of our way to include audio, video, and multimedia works in addition to fiction, poetry, and essays. Any piece that melds elements of the above is interesting to us. We get jazzed about the creative interplay among art forms and about conversations (literal or shout-outs) among writers and artists. The world is hybrid and multiple, and we expect our journal to reflect this.

Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?

A: Think of us when you have that piece you think might not work in most journals. Even when hybrid or meta pieces don't work and we have to pass on them, I'm always pleased those writers thought of us. Send us something that really thrills you. If you are bored (even just a tad) by your own piece, we are likely to feel the same way. We also publish straight-up fiction, and in that arena I would love to see more work that explores boundaries or categories, rather than work that is, in itself, contained. We look for work that surprises us.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: One that we accept! One that makes me jump up and call another editor. Recently, a piece excited me so much I actually ran 15 blocks home to accept it from my home computer. Isn't that the ideal, always?

Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?

A: It's pretty self-explanatory. We don't get miffed about much. Some journals have guidelines that make it sound as though, by submitting, you're getting fingerprinted for the DOE, or applying for an extended stay in a foreign country. Just send us your most thrilling work, and put your name on it.

Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?

A: I think the "right" answer here is that we don't care, but I do think the cover note is a nice touch. The cover note doesn't help anyone or any piece get published, so it's tempting to say they don't matter since, in the end, they won't get the writer anywhere the piece doesn't get them. But getting a submission without a cover note feels a little like getting into a long and engaged conversation with someone who hasn't said hello first. I guess I'm old fashioned that way.

Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?

A: Again, I think the "right" answer is we read each piece 7 times before rejecting, but usually I read at least half of everything and if it's not working on the sentence level at that point, I'll stop reading there. The other editors do the same. If a piece would need serious edits or if it's miles away from what we would publish, we need to move on to other writing. However, it's important to point out that we don't expect work to be wildly sensational right away, or grab us by the shoulders and shake us, or have gripping plot devices revealed instantly--the piece can be quiet or subtle and unfold slowly and we will keep reading. It's only when the writing is sloppy that we stop reading.

Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?

A: We consider a piece pretty thoroughly before accepting. We think about how it fits into the issue, how it describes our mission statement, and whether we feel we can 100% get behind the work.

Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?

A: That's a funny question, because we are all so busy, and we all have rich lives outside the journal. I have three jobs, am in graduate school, write a zine, and edit this journal. So my days tend to involve 17 different kinds of activities that all sort of flow in and out and around each other. Once I got an email from a writer whose work I rejected that said, "I'm sorry you didn't accept my piece but I want to recognize that your email came to me at 10:45pm on Sunday night and I respect how hard you work." I found that shocking, because I had no idea it was so late, or such an odd time to be working. I do a lot of the background upkeep kind of work. Another editor writes tweets for us every day. Another editor goes to schools and talks to writers about journals, and about writing. We to gallery shows to stalk artists sometimes. Our poetry editor runs a reading series and talks about poetry constantly with writers. We read a ton of submissions and argue about them. A few months later, the issue comes together.

Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?

A: The discussion of technology fascinates me. Print, of course, is a technology, which is often a forgotten element of this conversation. I think it's important to embrace technologies in as much as they work for you. We're online so we can publish work in various formats; we tried printing an book-form anthology once, but we had to leave out all our audio and video pieces, which isn't really Storyscape. We're online because it allows us to realize our vision of the journal.