Intern Post, Erin Regan: AWP Round Two: Like Coming Home

A few weeks ago, I packed a suitcase with extra room for books and literary paraphernalia and boarded a plane for blustery Minneapolis. It was my first time in the city and my second time at the annual AWP Conference. (You can read all about my inaugural trip here.)

Attending AWP last year gave me such an incredible boost of enthusiasm and motivation. I went home with a backpack full of journals, business cards, and call-for-submissions fliers. I was ready to really commit to being a writer, and to my own happy surprise, I have submitted a few pieces to various literary journals – all without success. That’s why this year, I attended a few panels about how to cope with rejection!rejected-1238221

This time, I not only entered the conference with a more personal knowledge of the reality of rejection but with a greater understanding of the madness I was descending on. As I boarded the plane to Seattle for the conference last year, I imagined the looks I would get when I told people that I hadn’t been published yet or that I was only getting my bachelor’s degree in literature. I expected everyone in attendance to have already written their first novel. Now I know that is wholly not the case.

Of course you do run into some profoundly successfully writers, and it’s such a joy to see them and hear them speak. (This year, I chatted with Ron Carlson and was able to attend panels with Stuart Dybek and T.C. Boyle.) But the AWP conference is also full of students and new writers who are trying to break into the world of literary publishing through small journals and publishing houses. It’s incredible to be in the company of thousands of aspiring and inspiring writers and editors. This year, walking into the book fair at the Minneapolis Convention Center felt just a little bit like coming home.

Here are some things I’ve learned from my first two AWP experiences:

Offsite events are the best. This year, Superstition Review co-hosted a reading with Blue Mesa Review and Hayden’s Ferry Review at The Nicollet, a lovely little coffee shop. I also attended Literary Death Match and a poetry reading in a supposedly haunted German hotel.

Missing the keynote is part of the AWP experience, especially after your first year. Admittedly, I was pretty disappointed to miss Karen Russell, but I was enjoying a really tasty bowl of pasta at the time, so I can’t complain too much.

It feels great to represent a magazine. Having Superstition Review printed on my badge did wonders for my confidence, and meeting past contributors as they stop by the table is pretty exciting. Plus, table 318 was my little haven in the swarming book fair.

Go outside. It’s easy to forget that there’s a world outside the convention center, so when you get a chance, go for a little walk; grab a bite to eat that isn’t a personal pizza or boxed salad.

The book fair is where it’s at. The panels are great, but there are so many people to talk with and new publications and presses to meet. Plus, you can get some amazing reading material and literary loot.

See you in Los Angeles at #AWP16!

Guest Blog Post, Ira Sukrungruang: On Being Married to Another Writer

“I can’t fathom writers married to writers and musicians married to musicians. There’s your enemy in bed beside you.”  —T.C. Boyle

Ira Sukrungruang1.

There isn’t a good history of writer couples. Think of the Fitzgeralds. Think of Plath and Hughes. But here I am—knock on wood—married to the poet Katherine Riegel for the past 11 years. I can say, without doubt, that our relationship has shaped me as a writer. If we had never met in Carbondale, IL, those many years ago, I might be teaching high school somewhere, or back in Chicago working at a camera store. Katie is my creativity fuel, my muse, my motivation. I can also say, with certainty, that without me, Katie would still be a poet.

2.

Recent email to Publisher/Friend

Dear ____________,

You may know by now that Katie has gotten her second book of poetry accepted for publication. But you don’t know how much we are in fierce competition with each other, and how I need to have my second book come out at the same time. That said, would you guys be interested in taking a look at my essay collection, Southside Buddhist?

By the way, I’m kidding. Only a little. But seriously, you interested?

Sincerely,

Ira “Bad Husband” Sukrungruang

P.S. She can’t win!

3.

We have learned how to be with each other. We know that I prefer the left side of the bed. We know that she hates June bugs. We know that I hate spiders. We know that she has to figure out tips on checks at restaurants. We know that I will have to cook most meals. We’ve also learned what to say about each other’s work. This took years. We are both stubborn in our own ways, and believe, most of the time, that we are right. Katie is more outwardly stubborn. I’m more inwardly stubborn. She voices her displeasure. “You’re wrong,” she’ll say. I keep it inside. “You’re wrong,” I’ll say on the inside.

Now we have a system. It’s really not a system. We tell each other our work is the best on this planet. No other writers rival our brilliance. And together, we are like those Japanese animes where we can join and become an ultimate power.

“Wonder Twin Powers! Activate!”

4.

We’ve come to know other writing couples: Jon and Allison, Chad and Jennifer, Jeff and Margot, Stacy and Adrian, Aimee and Dustin, Michael and Catherine. Sometimes we go on writing couple dates where most of the time we talk about TV. Writers love TV. TV and food.

We are known as Katie and Ira, a two-headed writing beast. She is the phoenix, and I am the dragon. At readings or conferences, if we are not together, people will say, “Where is __________________?” This happens a lot to writing couples. One of our friends once said, “We’re taking a break,” and this caused such a stir that soon the writing world was abuzz. “Did you hear? So and so are breaking up!” It was the best joke ever, she said.

When we appear by ourselves, it is to others as if we are suddenly without a limb.

5.

In “Enduring Discovery: Marriage, Parenthood, and Poetry,” Brenda Shaughnessy and Craig Morgan Teicher write: “We root for each other’s work, which is good because these books delve into our shared private lives.”

I write about Katie often because I write about what it means to belong to two cultures—Thai and American. Katie, however, very seldom writes about me. When we were first dating, I’d say, “Write a poem about me.” I’d say, “You must not love me because I’m never in your work. I love you because you’re always in my work.” She’d shake her head. “Listen, if I begin writing about you, that means our relationship is not doing well. I only write about bad relationships.” This is true.

Eleven years later, still nothing written about me.

This is a blessing.

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.

Narrative Goes Digital

Each week we feature a blog post by one of our many talented interns here at Superstition Review. This week’s contribution comes from Nonfiction Editor Jennie Ricks.

The literary magazine Narrative has started to dig deep into the changing digital world by offering a variety of options to its readers. Its ultimate vision is to connect writers and readers around the globe, which has prompted the publication to distribute their issue online for free.

Narrative was the first literary magazine on Amazon’s Kindle; it also offers an App, which is a free download for the iPhone, iPad, and the iPod. Their readers are able to access new stories each week the second they are published, as well as watch and listen to authors speak at events, and browse and select stories from award-winning authors like Sherman Alexie, T.C. Boyle, and Joyce Carol Oates.

Not only does Narrative publish fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, it also provides unique opportunities for writing and reading. One category is the “six-word story:” authors tell their story in only six words. Cartoons, graphic stories, and audio readings are also available to readers.

Narrative offers a wide selection of writing contests for writers to hone their craft. The most recent contest targeted writers between the ages of 18 and 30. Their next contest is open to both fiction and nonfiction pieces and called the Winter 2012 Story Contest (deadline is March 31). Not only are the winner’s published, but they also walk away with cash prizes.

Narrative is an intriguing literary magazine that offers many varieties of writing and reading for individuals with different preferences. It opens up options to people who want something fun and different, and have adapted to incorporate new options for a changing digital age.