Intern Post, Briauna Kittle: How the Writer Got Her Start: A Look at the Art of Creation

Humans have always been obsessed with how things came to be. Originally, this started with existence, how humans arrived on Earth, how our planet was formed, what caused the lights in the sky; once those topics were milked for all they were worth, these stories narrowed down: how the rhino got its skin in the classic porquoi tale best told by Rudyard Kipling, how narcissism created the echo and reflection from the Greek myth, or why male genitalia looks the way it does as given in the Winnebago Trickster Cycle from the Winnebago Native American oral tradition. Perhaps the most interesting thing is how the same stories are told in a multitude of ways. This could be attributed to use of oral tradition, the passing down of stories through voice, carrying through different narrators with different styles of speaking and different interpretations of the same events. In this way, the story is always changing and refining through a never-ending cycle of editors in order to become the tales we know today.

woodcut of elephant getting its trunk

A woodcut by Rudyard Kipling showing how the elephant got its trunk for his book of porquoi tales, Just So Stories.

There’s something satisfying about creation, too, like scratching an itch you didn’t even know existed. The act of creation through writing, art, music, and crafts is highly valued, even though nobody wants to do it. Everyone dreams of writing a novel but taking on writing as a profession is still generally met with hesitance (“Creative writing? What do you plan to do with that, teach?”). However, in a more visual sense, such as works-in-progress videos by various artists or with crafts like crocheting or knitting, people are hypnotized. I find there’s nothing more calming than watching someone make a watercolor painting, and when the work is finished, I want to find the artist and thank them for allowing me to watch. When I crochet in public, I’m always greeted with a “What are you knitting?” (I’ve given up correcting them) followed by the person watching me work as I wrap the yarn around the hook and pull it through the loops.

The downside to creating is, of course, dealing with doubt. I don’t think anybody in creation stories ever doubted their actions, but being in the arts requires juggling doubt and dancing with failure. One of the ways I personally deal with this is by writing my own creation stories. I’ve found it kick-starts my imagination and returns me to the mindset of seven-year-old me who loved to write how things came to be, to the point of writing a chapter book about star formation. Creativity is a must, too. Why do snails have shells? Well, obviously, a snail started out as a slug and decided it wanted to become strong, like the ant, so it found a shell to live in and now carries its own house on its back as a strength building exercise. It’s unscientific but gives us a new way of looking at the world which is exactly what literature and the arts aim to do: show new perspectives so that we may live without hurting others. Bonding through any form of creation, especially through storytelling, gives us the chance to understand something new, both in intellectual and empathetic standpoints. Even if your next work doesn’t make you the next Charles Dickens, it’s still creation and has the possibility to change someone’s viewpoint. Even if it’s not something you want published, tell the story to a few friends and tell them to pass it on to someone else; in a few generations, you’ll have a masterpiece.

Meet the Interns: Terrah Hancock

Nonfiction Editor Terrah Hancock is an English Literature major at Arizona State University. One of her nonfiction essays, Snobbery Tower is being published in the upcoming edition of Lux Literary Magazine. She has also finished a working draft of her memoir entitled Singing Myself To Sleep and is in the editorial phase of publication. She aspires to attend graduate school at Vermont College of Fine Arts where her Creative Writing Thesis Project will be the tangled biography of a 26º Freemason’s son.

1.  What is your position with Superstition Review and what are your responsibilities?
This is my first semester with Superstition Review. As the Nonfiction Editor my responsibilities are to review submissions from authors. I correspond with the authors and then submit my vote on which submissions I think should be featured.

2.  Why did you decide to get involved with Superstition Review?
I am usually on the submitting end of the publication process. I was curious to experience the other side, so I applied. I want to gain exposure to things like: the always dreaded and nerve wracking Query Letter and to witness how fellow writers develop and sustain relationships with literary magazines.

3.  Besides interning for Superstition Review, how do you spend your time?
I have a set of detailed and lofty academic and professional goals, so a great deal of my time is spent studying or writing in the basement of Hayden Library. Beyond striving to achieve my childhood dream of being a writer, I am the happy and playful mother of two beautiful sons.  We spend much of our time riding bikes, playing football or taking our three dogs to the dog park.

4.  What other position(s) for Superstition Review would you like to try out?
I could see myself trying the Superstition Review Blog Editor only if it doesn’t exclude me from being able to read all the incoming submissions!

5.  Describe one of your favorite literary works.
I get asked this all the time and I contend that one favorite is impossible! I have a strong three way tie for my favorite work: Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Each of these books left me feeling immensely connected to humanity and with a deep compassion for all the things I’ll never know about other people’s lives.

6.  What are you currently reading?
After semesters full of close, analytic readings I yearn for a story that I don’t have to dissect and appraise. My very favorite story to get lost in is Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. Like the gunslinger’s repeated journey, I read this entire series once a year. I love that I don’t study the sentence structure or even acknowledge that structure exists. Right now I’m reading The Art of Time in Memoir by Sven Birkerts.

7.  Creatively, what are you currently working on?
I am working on polishing the working draft of my first book right now. I completed my first draft over a year ago and have been following a detailed plan to achieve my eventual goal.  My manuscript is with my editor now and when we are finished with this lengthy editorial process, I’ll move along to the stage of acquiring publication and literary prestige!

8.  What inspires you?
I am inspired by the people who never gave up on their dreams. In 1888, Mona Caird wrote “Every good thing that we enjoy today was once the dream of a ‘crazy enthusiast’ mad enough to believe in the power of ideas and in the power of man to have things as he wills.” Also — one of my goals is to someday be an answer to one of The Writer’s Chronicle crossword puzzle questions!

9.  What are you most proud of?
I make sure to cherish every accomplishment in my life. Every semester, every essay, every test, every publication. I’m proud of my life collectively. Most recently, I’m very proud of my first publication. A short story of mine entitled, Snobbery Tower, was published just this month in a local literary journal.

10.  Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I wrote my first book at age six, entitled The Heart and The Ant. Ten years from now, I will still be on the path that began with that book. I will still be writing and possibly in school; hopefully on the other side of the podium by then. I’ll still be happy and proud. I’ll know that I never gave up on my dreams — maybe got distracted a few times, but I never quit.

Meet the Interns: Michaela Stephens, Submissions Coordinator

Michaela Stephens is a senior majoring in Literature, Writing, and Film with a Creative Writing concentration.

Superstition Review: What is your position with Superstition Review and what are your responsibilities?

Michaela Stephens: I am the Submissions Coordinator. My job is to log in to our submissions and contributor spreadsheets information about…surprise, submissions and contributions! I post the work to the correct discussion board for the editors to read and then log their verdicts into the spreadsheet. I also notify submitters if their submissions did not conform to our guidelines. (Yes, I’m the bad guy who sends form letters.)

SR: How did you hear about Superstition Review and what made you decide to get involved?

MS: One of my coworkers in the Writing Center was interning with Superstition Review and she talked about what she was doing a fair amount. I decided I wanted to get involved because it sounded like it would be good experience and a very helpful addition to my resume. Also, I thought it might be very interesting.

SR: What are you hoping to take away from your Superstition Review experience?

MS: I want to take away a thorough knowledge of how the publishing world works and why things are done the way they are.

SR: Describe one of your favorite literary or artistic works.

MS: Only one? You want to ask a bibliophile to describe just one of her favorite literary works? Impossible! I cannot do it! I cannot choose only one!

Bible, Book of Mormon, Jane Austen, C. S. Lewis, L. M. Montgomery, Mark Twain, George Elliot, Orson Scott Card, etc.

SR: What are you currently reading?

MS: David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. I haven’t had enough exposure to Dickens.

SR: Who would be the Superstition Review contributor of your dreams?

MS: Orson Scott Card. His stories are very psychological, but also very accessible.

SR: Do you write or create art? What are you currently working on?

MS: For the last few years I’ve been predominately a writer, but I do have an artistic strain as well. I did pretty well in a sculpture class I took in Austin, Texas, and I still have a mask project hanging on my wall that I made for that.

Right now, I am working on a piece of genre fiction about a spoiled prince who has to marry someone from a specific town or he won’t inherit the kingdom.

SR: Besides interning for Superstition Review, how do you spend your time?

MS: Doing homework, working at the Polytechnic Writing Center, blogging, reading, reading, reading. Throw in weekly cub scout den meetings, a visit to the temple, church attendance, church choir, and you’ve gotten a picture of most of my time.

SR: What is your favorite mode of relaxation?

MS: Undoubtedly reading, but after sitting down at the computer all day it is hard to sit and read some more, so then I either go running or I go for a walk with my husband.

SR: Where do you see yourself in ten years?

MS: I see myself as a published author of several novels, and a professional organizer. If children don’t come. If children come, I’ll be a stay-at-home mom who scribbles away in the early morning hours.