Guest Blog Post, Anthony Varallo: SPACE, DOUBLE SPACE

Anthony E VaralloHow many spaces after a period, one or two?  Space or double space?  If you’re like me, old enough to remember typing your first research papers on your parents’ IBM Selectric, —ancient, even then, but thrilling nonetheless, the way the letters jumped from a center ball that spun and rotated across the page—then you probably prefer two spaces, even though, as you are becoming increasingly aware, typeset pages, like the ones you see in nearly every print publication of every kind, from the smallest circulation literary magazine to The New York Times, use a single space.  Only.  There is, as you must reluctantly admit, no such thing as double-spacing in print publication.  A single space presides after every period.  A space no different than the one after a comma or semi-colon.  Yes, you know this; still, you use two spaces after each period.  Why?

Because you took a typing class in seventh grade, for starters.  The class met in a room fitted out with twenty manual typewriters resting atop twenty desks, the typewriters wearing a vinyl cover that could only be removed upon the instructor’s permission and, at the end of each session, carefully replaced, requiring you to position the typewriter’s carriage just so.  The instructor was old, even by seventh grade teacher standards, and his voice shook as he called out the sentences you were to type, including—and this seems important—the spaces after each punctuation mark.  Comma, space.  Period, double space.  The sound of twenty space bars double-spacing: a basketball dribbled twice.  Failure to double space, a red instructor’s mark, a lower grade.

Because, in college, you upgraded to a portable word processor, heavy as a packed suitcase, but light enough to carry to the dorm lounge whenever your roommate had a visitor.  The word processor stored your papers—documents, you began calling them, without quite realizing it—on disks, enabling you to save your work for later, the words on the page and yet not on the page, either, since you hadn’t printed them out yet, a new phrase to put alongside documents.  Still, you wrote those words as if they would be printed out, because that’s what words aspired to, you began to realize, to be part of sentences to be printed out, and those sentences needed a punctuation mark at the end with two spaces after to give them their proper due.  A pause.  Breathing room.  Authority.

Because, right after you traded in your portable word processor—that old thing!—for your first personal computer, you began writing short stories, and sentences suddenly seemed something larger than words on a page; they became individual brushstrokes on a canvas framed by top, bottom, right and left margins.  Something to take time on, to linger upon, even for hours, as you did, drinking coffee late into the night.  A sentence was a slow-born thing, you began to understand, and to finish one was a kind of honor, one that required a double space, as if to say, There, done, yes, made it, now it is so.  The double space sent the cursor more forcefully into the blank page, to better accompany your mind, which suddenly had no idea how it had ever written a good sentence in the first place.  For each sentence completed only sent you into the next sentence to be completed, where all the old challenges cropped up again—word choice, tone, grammar, syntax, style, clarity, coherence, precision—the completed sentence offering no clues where the next was to follow.  Every sentence is a solo act.  A truth the double space only wished you to know better.  A truth a single space would rather you never learn.

Because you have tried using a single space, even though you won’t admit it.  A phase that only lasted a few months or so, right around the time you started noticing that your students, born in the era when you traded the word processor for the PC, used a single space after periods.  So you tried, for the sake of keeping up, for the sake of growing and changing, for the sake of not suffering potential embarrassment, always important to you.  You single-spaced after each period.  A feeling like walking on one foot.  Like looking left, right, but not left again.  Like parking bumper to bumper in a crowded lot.  You couldn’t get the hang of it, so back to double-spacing you went, and where you have stayed.  You can’t help it: you like the world a little bit better with double-spacing in it.

But what to do now?  You have two children, and they both use computers, both like writing stories and jokes; sometimes even a screenplay, which they film with their iPods.  Sometimes they need your help spelling certain words, help you are happy to give.  You stand beside them as they type the word and reach the end of the sentence.  You hold your breath after they type the period.  The cursor blinks.  Your children hesitate, about to ask another question.  Space or double space?

Past Intern Update: Rebekah Richgels

Rebekah Richgels, Fiction Editor of Issue 2 and Issue 3, reflects on life in the publishing world after Superstition Review.

Oh, how naïve I was.

Intern Update Rebekah RichgelsSuperstition Review was the beginning of living my dreams. I spent two semesters with SR as one of the Fiction Editors during my junior year. It was bliss. I spent my time talking with people who loved writing and reading and even editing. I contacted hundreds (if not literally, then very close) of already published authors like I was a peer of theirs and got a great response. I loved the community of the written word that I was thrown into. I got to interview T.C. Boyle, for crying out loud!

The next year I delved further, but also expanded. I was the head Fiction editor for Lux, Arizona State University’s

Undergraduate Creative Review. That was awesome because it dealt with undergraduates and truly sought to foster the artistic creativity in students, bring it to light, and then polish it. Great fun.

I graduated in 2010 with my B.A. in Creative Writing, minor in French, and defended thesis from Barrett, the Honors College. I spent the summer in Denver at the University of Denver Publishing Institute, and that was the best thing I had ever done in my life. Ever. I met people who not just loved reading and writing, but who wanted to spend their lives making sure the world can read great stuff. I was on top of the world, as you might imagine.

Then, as is always the case, reality struck.

Publishing jobs are in New York City, mainly, with another hub in Boston and one near San Francisco. My significant other was (and is) at medical school at Stanford, which is in Northern California, so I packed up my car and braved the new wilderness of California, believing that I would be hired right off and work my way up the ladder in the publishing world.

Ha.

I spent nine months working for Costco and applying for all manner of entry-level publishing jobs. The economy being what it was, there weren’t many. The other aspect of California publishing is that the publishers who aren’t small independents are academics, and turnover is small in both those fields. Not to mention, the larger companies were buying up independents to use as imprints. Even Random House and Penguin were merging. All in all, my dreams were hard to make reality.

Costco wasn’t cutting it for me, so we parted ways. I began working as a nanny, independently for a freelance editor, hoping that her connections could extend to me, and I took on a transcription project that lasted two months. Then, last summer, I noticed that the Superstition Review Facebook page had posted an intern position for Weave Magazine, which was conveniently located in San Francisco. I applied. They rejoiced! Apparently I’m far more qualified, thanks to SR, than many of their applicants.

Let me just tell you all, I love it. It’s like Superstition Review in so many ways, but with even more fun interacting. I don’t get to do the solicitation, but the group conversations about the submissions are wonderful, and I love the exposure to writers.

I’m still searching for my break-in publishing job, but in the meantime I’m busying myself with office admin work at a property management company. I’ve also landed a 12-week internship with Bleacher Report, the online sports website, where I do 15 hours of copyediting a week. Since the content is mostly submitted by unpaid authors, my work is sorely needed, let me tell you.

So life hasn’t turned out like I imagined it would, but I’ve been able to adjust my expectations along the way (with some pouting moments, I’ll admit), and things are going well now. I’m not an SR success story yet, but I’ll get there. You’ll read about it, I promise.

Meet the Review Crew: Sarah Murray

Each week we feature one of our many talented interns here at Superstition Review.

 

Sarah Murray is currently a Fiction Editor at Superstition Review. Her experience as a Creative Writing student has led her to be involved in multiple workshops across her time at ASU, and she is currently employed by the university as a Writing Tutor at the Downtown Campus Writing Center. She has also in the past been affiliated with one of the student writing groups at the university, and has interned with the PEN Project, an effort to bring education to prison inmates through Creative Writing.

Originally from LA, she has been studying at ASU for four years now. Last year she studied abroad in England for five months, which was a deconstruction process for her if there ever was one. She hopes to move to San Francisco—a place that attracts her because of its music, artistic vibe, and quirky personality—after she graduates. She also hopes to encounter McSweeney’s while she is up there (by force if necessary!).

Outside of reading and writing, Sarah enjoys mostly rock and/or folk-based music, predominantly from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s (she does, however, hold a special place in her heart for Motown). She also is dedicated to social activism, and has fervently worked to eliminate stigma within and surrounding the queer community, which she has been involved in since 2008. More recently she has been involved with HEAL International, a nonprofit dedicated to issues revolving around HIV/AIDS.

The most important thing to know about Sarah is that she is strongly affected by what people have to say. Everything else in her life revolves around establishing relationships with people, no matter how strong or brief. It is this impulse that attracts her to all forms of art, both high and lowbrow.

Meet the Review Crew: Stephanie De La Rosa

Each week we feature one of our many talented interns here at Superstition Review.

This is Stephanie De La Rosa’s second semester with Superstition Review, this time around as a Fiction Editor. She’s here at Superstition Review because SR has proven a great opportunity to gain experience in the field of publishing. She was new to the world of literary magazines when she began at Superstition Review, but one of the things she has been able to do since joining is discover the volume of literary magazines that are available, to both read and to submit to.

She is first generation American, born and raised in Phoenix. However, she still gets asked, “Where are you from?” In the States, she tends to be ambiguous, responding that her parents are from Guatemala. She’s finding it’s much harder to explain in Europe. Though she loves poetry and art, and has done both, she leans towards fiction more than anything because there is a tradition of oral storytelling in her family. More recently, she calls this oral tradition “gossip.”

Stephanie has noticed throughout the years how things we experienced, things we think we remember, change every time we retell them, changing the context and thereby changing the content as well. She loves the versatility of fiction. That’s not to say that any other genre doesn’t have the same quality, because she personally believes the boundaries between genres are transparent, permeable. But we still have certain constructs, certain guidelines that determine whether a piece of writing is poetry or nonfiction. And according to general consensus and constructs, she writes fiction.

Stephanie is in Switzerland at the moment, enjoying the snow and low temperatures. Her goal is to have touched ground on every continent. She finds the Old World intriguing, but to her the “New World” is so much more compelling. However, because of the undeniable European presence and influence across the American continents, she finds herself looking out a window at a city whose name can be traced back a couple thousand years, and a castle or two, here and there.

Intern Highlight: Tana Ingram

Fiction Editor Tana Ingram is a senior at Arizona State University, majoring in Literature, Writing and Film. She will graduate December 2011 with honors and a certificate in Multimedia Writing and Technical Communications. After graduation, Tana plans on attending graduate school for creative writing. This is Tana’s first semester at Superstition Review.

Click on the link below to hear Tana read from one of her stories.

Tana Ingram

Intern Highlight: Zari Panosian

Fiction Editor Zari Panosian is a junior at Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University where she is pursuing concurrent degrees in European History and English (Creative Writing). Her one-act play, Late, was selected as part of the Arizona Women’s Theatre Company’s Pandora Playwriting Festival and the Pandora Showcase in 2010. In addition to her passion for writing, Zari has aspirations to attend law school upon her graduation in 2013. This is her first semester at Superstition Review.

In the link below, Zari shares one of her strongest influences and inspirations.

Zari Panosian

Meet the Interns: Kim Jakubowski

Advertising Coordinator Kim Jakubowski is an English (Creative Writing) major completing her senior year at ASU. Her short story, “Heartland,” recently won the Randel and Susan McCraw Helms Homecoming Writing Contest, and is being published in an upcoming issue of Marooned. Aside from her internship with Superstition Review, Kim currently works as an ESL tutor. After graduation, she hopes to travel and continue writing, and eventually pursue an MFA or a career in publishing. This is her first semester with Superstition Review.

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

I am working with Superstition Review as an Advertising Coordinator. Some of my responsibilities include writing press releases, updating SR‘s press kit, coordinating advertisements with other literary magazines, and promoting our reading series, submissions period, and issue launch.

2. Why did you decide to get involved with Superstition Review ?

I read one of my own stories for Superstition Review during my first semester at ASU, and I talked to an intern there who said that working with the magazine was a fantastic experience. I’m interested in gaining some insight into the publishing process, as I am considering a future career in the publishing industry.

3. How do you like to spend your free time?

I spend a good portion of my free time reading and writing. I also love listening to music, playing guitar, and spending time with my friends and family.

4. What other position(s) for Superstition Review would you like to try out?

My passion is for reading and writing fiction, so I would love to try the position of fiction editor.

5. Describe one of your favorite literary works.

My favorites change periodically, but if I had to pick one work to bring to that proverbial deserted island, it would be The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel. This is one work that I never tire of; it’s witty and original, and her use of language is incredibly incisive and beautiful. The binding on my book is already falling apart.

6. What are you currently reading?

I can never seem to read just one book at a time, so at the moment I’m reading a collection of short stories by Alice Monroe, Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, as well as the Best American Short Stories 2010.

7. Creatively, what are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a couple of short stories, as well as a non-fiction piece.

8. What inspires you?

I’m inspired by people with an enthusiasm for life, as well as people who have the strength and drive to pursue what they love.

9. What are you most proud of?

My writing and academic accomplishments have always been a source of pride for me. I’m proud of my determination to achieve my goals.

10. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I would love to be a published writer, or involved in the publishing field as an editor. I also hope to travel extensively, maybe live in a foreign country. My plans are a bit vague at the moment, but I hope that I will be able follow my passions and end up doing something that I enjoy.