Christina Arregoces, Issue 7 Art Editor and Issue 8 Interview Coordinator, discusses her pursuit of literary outlets and plans for the future.
After interning at Superstition Review my freshman and sophomore year, I went on to immerse myself in any (and every) literary outlet I could. From ASU’s State Press Magazine to Lux Undergraduate Creative Review, from the Barrett Chronicle to Every Day Fiction, I applied for, submitted to, reported for, and wrote for just about every publication that I was lucky enough to stumble upon.
And between papers, classes, and incredible mentors during the next year and a half, I then stumbled upon copywriting.
I now happily work as a part time copywriter at a marketing firm in Tempe, and I plan to continue there until I graduate in 2014.
Until then? I’ll be hard at work on my creative writing Honors Thesis, while continuing to write for the Washington D.C. based blog, Spike the Watercooler.
After then? Well, that’s a good question. Though I’m planning on taking the LSAT this June, I’m still considering applying to a handful of MFA programs, with the end goal of getting my PhD and teaching at a collegiate level (hopefully, somewhere in California) in mind.
Let’s just say I’ll be doing quite a bit of breath holding come next fall.
Katie McCoach, Issue 6 Nonfiction Editor, discusses her experience at Superstition Review and other internships and how they gave her the experience to pursue her ideal career.
Until my internships with Superstition Review, Ellechor Publishing, and Folio Literary Management, I had no idea where my Creative Writing and Communications degrees were going to take me. I knew I enjoyed the degrees I had chosen for myself, but what job would I end up with? I felt like the only choices I kept hearing were technical writing, teaching, or apply for MFA programs.
Those options weren’t for me. But then the lingering question; what was?
Well, a few internships later I discovered my dream job, and the path to take to get there. Fast forward a year and here I am now, pursuing my dream. Half of my time goes to an author marketing company where I spend the day executing marketing campaigns for traditional and self-published authors, and the other half of my time is spent freelance editing as Katie McCoach Editorial. I edit and critique manuscripts, query letters, website content, and newsletters. When I look back at how in the world I got here, it comes down to six things interning did for me, so I wanted to share them here for you.
Real Life Experience – I know you hear this all the time. Enough already, right? But it really cannot be expressed enough. The internships I held were all very different from one another and from each of them I discovered this whole world I knew nothing about. I learned how to communicate with authors, how to hone instinct in selling, selecting, and editing, and I saw the different roles each person can play in the publishing industry. Many of the things I learned in my internships I would never have learned by just my degree alone.
Discover What You Want – A couple years ago, I was the Nonfiction Editor for Issue 6 of Superstition Review. Here I learned the in and outs of a literary magazine: how to communicate with authors and pique interest, how to develop an instinct for selecting the best work for the issue that season, and I had a chance to read amazing work by so many brilliant writers. At one point, I was asked to give comments on one of the pieces, to see if there were any suggestions or feedback we could contribute. This was my favorite part, and it wasn’t even one of my typical duties. That’s when the first hint of what I wanted to do as a career began to hit me.
Conduct the Ultimate Interview – Internships are jobs. Although they are temporary and often times only a few months long, they are still jobs. This is your chance to conduct the ultimate interview – how does this job fit with your personality? How are your skills best utilized? Can you see yourself here in five years? How could you move up in the industry? I worked for a literary magazine, publishing company, and literary agency. I saw very different roles of the publishing industry, and from it I discovered where I fit best.
Path to Your Dream Job – Every person in your industry started somewhere, maybe even interning exactly where you are now. So ask them – how did they get their job? What about their boss’s boss? The path to your dream job becomes readily available to you as an intern and this is your chance to begin it.
Perspective – I chose to intern at companies that were all related to publishing and from this I saw different parts of the industry that I could have never seen if I hadn’t worked in the areas I did. Interning at Superstition Review I saw the literary magazine side of publishing. The publications in literary magazines across the country influence contests and grants. These contests can mean referrals for lit agents, which in turn can mean a sale to an editor, and the next book a publishing company picks up. There is much more to it than that of course, but I now am able to see the industry as a whole, which gives me perspective, especially in relation to the job I chose to pursue.
Connections – This is another one of those things we hear a lot. I currently live in Los Angeles and I am surrounded by the film and TV industry. I see first-hand how connections are the only way to establish your place in that industry. The same goes for publishing, though depending on the path you choose, it might not be quite as cutthroat. When I first moved to LA I attended one of those kind-of-awkward-but-you-push-through-it networking events. I was wary at first, and then I met someone who was starting her own marketing business. She needed an editor for her website content and what do you know, here I was, an editor. On top of gaining business with her, she also had a friend who was a literary agent, and that agent knew other freelance editors, and by then my connections had tripled. This happened just from a two-hour networking event, so imagine what a semester-long internship can do.
Interning was definitely the right choice for me and my career path, and – I have to cliché it up right here – I would not be in the position I am today without it.
If you are a current or past intern, what has interning done for you? If you are debating interning, what things do you hope to gain from the experience?
Katie McCoach graduated from Arizona State University in May of 2011 with her Bachelor’s of Arts in Creative Writing and Communications. She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA as a freelance editor. She has had essays published in TrainWrite and Kalliope. You can visit her at www.katiemccoach.comand on Twitter @katiemccoach
Through her experience with Superstition Review, Carly hopes to gain a firmer sense of an editor’s responsibilities, as well as the skills to fulfill these duties. While she plans to continue writing in many capacities, Carly would also like to help members of the general public to understand the value of written expression and communication, most likely through editorial and teaching positions.
Beyond writing, Carly has interests in music, dance, and running. Although some of her earliest memories pertain to writing stories, a progression in musical development caused her to tie the two passions together at a young age, in the form of lyric-writing and musicianship. Fortunately, Carly has gained a greater understanding of writing’s intricacies since then, and plans to continue improving in the future.
Poetry Editor ChristiAnne Lunsford She fell in love with language since first attending grade school, and entered an early engagement with poetry in the third grade after selecting a dusty volume of Edgar Allen Poe’s works from her parents’ bookshelf in the family living room. To this day she still recalls the beginning lines of “The Raven” with distinctness, “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,/Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore…” Since this immersion, her relationship with the world of poetry has flourished like wild fire, traversing out of the Gothics and into the sentiments of poets such as Pablo Neruda, T.S. Elliot, e. e. cummings, and William Shakespeare. She attempts to produce similar stylization in her own poems that she finds in her favorite poets: elevated language, experimental typography, and precision in imagery.
Nonfiction Editor Harrison Gearns
Harrison owns way too many electronic devices. An avid gamer to the core, Harrison plays World of Warcraft, where his level 85 Holy Paladin protects weaker characters from harm by healing their wounds. His favorite part of these Massively-Multiplayer games is letting the more rude characters die from a lack of healing – his roommates included. Harrison likes to pretend this philosophy does not invade his private life.
Harrison hopes to get a job in script writing for video games, and ideally would go to graduate school in either poetry or nonfiction. Harrison is also exploring teaching English in Japan. He lives in Mesa, Arizona, with his girlfriend, Sarah, and his cat, Oscar.
Content Coordinator for Poetry and Nonfiction: Ashley Maul
Once, she was asked to list five books she’d bring with her on a deserted island and without fail her answer remains: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, The Scarlet Letter, a collection of Allen Ginsberg’s poetry, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Billy Collin’s The Trouble with Poetry. Her favorite reading reflects her own writing style – a combination of youthful fancy and shenanigans mixed with sarcasm and adult confession.
Like many students so close to graduation, she is unsure of where the future will take her, but she is very interested in the publishing industry and imagines a career that allows her to telecommute as an editor for a posh literary magazine or book publishing company. With a history in bookstore management and an avid thirst for reading and writing, there is little she can imagine that can combine her interests so perfectly.
Art Editor Arjun Chopra
Arjun started working with Superstition Review over the past summer as a guest contributor with his blog series, “Dispatches From Delhi.” Despite being relatively new to the world of editing/publishing, Arjun finds his position intellectually stimulating and instrumental in giving him his first glimpse into the actual working side of writing. He finds his work to be a comprehensive learning experience in meshing creativity with professionalism, an invaluable skill of those who strive to make a living through their writing, a skill he is glad to have the chance to practice.
When not in class, doing homework, or compiling graduate application materials, Arjun enjoys spending his free time reading novels and poetry collections, writing, watching movies, skateboarding, and listening to a wide variety of different music.
Advertising Editor Brooke Passey
Along with her reading load for class, Brooke tries to read one recreational book a week. To stay motivated she posts weekly book reviews on her blog brookepassey.wordpress.com. She also loves horseback riding and spends her spare time training and teaching riding lessons. In the 15 years that she has been riding she has only fallen off a horse once—when she was reading a book while sitting on her horse bareback. Although she loves both hobbies she has since decided to keep them separate. After graduation she plans on pursuing a career where she can use her writing skills during the day and her riding skills in the evening.
Fiction Editor Abbey Maddix
Superstition Review is Abbey’s first experience working with a literary magazine and hopefully the first stepping stone to a career in the editing and publishing world. She finds the position demanding but educational, particularly informative when it comes to thinking about her own future career as a writer. Her work centers on fiction of all forms, exploring genres and forms and her own limitations. She enjoys pushing the boundaries of her comfort zone and enjoys exploring the question “What does it mean to be human?” from both a literary angle and a scientific one.
On Abbey’s “favorites” bookshelf there are the works of Kurt Vonnegut, Neil Gaiman, Italo Calvino, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, although she’d like to expand her experience with contemporary literature. Although she has a difficult time understanding poetry, the works of Pablo Neruda and Tomas Tranströmer have managed to win her over.
Taken from Anne Lamott’s essay in her book Bird by Bird, the “shitty first draft,” or SFD, tries to make the most difficult step in writing easier. The concept is simple: write everything you can all at once and get it on the page. In her words, “almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something—anything—down on paper” (25). Don’t filter yourself, or you will never get past the first paragraph. I have always hated writing my first draft out of fear of that it will be worse than a 5-year-old’s first book report. Even Lamott recognizes her fear that if something were to happen to her, she would never have the chance to go back and fix her SFD.
The SFD is important to me because it transformed the way I write. My first draft is supposed to be bad, so it’s perfectly OK if it is. The worse the draft is, the better actually because it means I have more to work with to make it perfect. After chucking everything onto the page, the ideas are there, and only need tweaking (or maybe entire paragraph upheaval) to get it where I want the work to be. The point is the SFD provides a starting place when you didn’t have one before.
After the SFD, I spend the rest of my writing time editing it, stripping the work to its barest bones, and building it back up again. I have a tendency to overwrite (and by tendency I mean 1000 words over the limit on a paper). My SFD usually contains at least double the words allowed and is plagued by repetition. My writing process consists of paring that overwriting down day after day to get it under the limit—condensing sentences, and clarifying ideas.
The same thing goes for my fiction pieces and this post. I can write pages of text, giving me paragraphs to work with. Because of all the prose I have, I can cut down the bad, horrible, and not-so-good stuff and allow the best float to the top. I can take out an entire scene to a story, or rework a character’s personality when I realize I want her to be angry with the world instead of happy to be alive. The SFD provides a canvas and base to build upon and create a better piece.
Have you ever used an SFD before? What other significant tools have you used to make your writing process easier?
Evan Lopez is currently a sophomore at Arizona State University pursuing a degree in English Creative Writing with a concentration in Fiction. As a content coordinator at Superstition Review he is responsible for overseeing submissions in fiction and art, as well as copy editing, proofing past issues, inputting new content, and more. He’s hoping to use the experience he gains at the magazine to help him as he pursues a career in publishing.
Born and raised in Southern California, he hopes to attend graduate school abroad or on the east coast where he will be able to experience new people and places while furthering his education. In his free time, he enjoys dabbling in songwriting and music production. He has always admired all genres of music and the way that musicians use language in beautifully unexpected ways. He hopes to be able to incorporate his love of music into his future studies and career.
Growing up, he had always wanted to be a writer and was inspired by the work of Ayn Rand, J.K. Rowling, Ray Bradbury, George Orwell, Richard Adams, and Kurt Vonnegut. Eventually, he hopes to publish his work and inspire and connect with readers in the same way that he was inspired by his favorite authors.
Mai-Quyen Nguyen is a junior at Arizona State University, majoring in English with a concentration in Fiction and pursuing a certificate in Technical Communication. She is a Fiction Editor for Superstition Review, which is her first role at the online literary magazine. Not only is she seeking to gain experience with the editing and publishing industry, but she is also hoping to develop relationships and build networks.
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area in California, she moved to Arizona to study nursing. However, her career plan changed when she fully realized her passion to write and edit. Language and words are multifaceted; people communicate through both spoken and written words and she wishes to affect the lives of others through her own.
What Mai-Quyen finds fascinating about writing is the bond it creates between the writer and the reader. Regardless of how deeply literature is read, people take away different meanings. Writing searches for the truth, a concept that humans sometimes find difficult, and Mai-Quyen seeks to find who she is through literature.
One story that has changed her life is “Recitatif” by Toni Morrison. She enjoys not only the works of contemporary authors such as Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates, Stuart Dybek, Jim Shephard, and John Irving, but also those of John Green and Ernest Hemingway. Inspired by Hemingway, Mai-Quyen is interested in exploring his theory of omission, or the Iceberg Theory, in her works.
Aside from writing fiction, Mai-Quyen likes to compose lyrics and on occasion, poetry. She grew up as a performer: she sang in her elementary school and high school choir, swing danced in elementary and middle school, acted during middle school, and took piano lessons for seven years. Although she is no longer committed to those activities, she continues to play the piano in her spare time.
After graduating from ASU, Mai-Quyen plans to apply to Columbia University to earn an MFA in Fiction. She aspires to become a book editor and a literary fiction author. She dreams to have her work published and read across the world, evoking a positive response on her audience who will gain valuable lessons from her stories.
My name is Corinne Randall and I am a Creative Writing (poetry concentration) major and Communication minor. This is my third semester working as an editor at Superstition Review. In the past, I worked as a poetry editor and I not only enjoyed the experience immensely, I grew from it as well. I learned about what it means to be an editor for a literary magazine and that is knowledge I will take with my throughout the rest of my career. I am now a nonfiction editor and am enjoying the different type of content I get to read every week.
Some of my favorite pieces of literature are William Shakespeare’s plays. I have always found them very interesting and I have taken a few classes on the subject. In addition, I enjoy reading books of poetry not only for my own personal enjoyment, but to further increase my writing skills within the genre. I have a goal to one day publish a book of poetry and I believe the best way to do so is to learn from those who have already done so.
Since this is my final semester here at ASU, I am thinking about what to do with my future after I graduate in December. As of now, pursuing an MA in Literature seems to be my main focus, with hopes to eventually teach writing or literature classes.
I look forward to Issue 10 of SR and I am honored to be a part of the process.
Until I was asked to write a blog on famous muses, I really never gave the idea much thought. I’ve always used my surroundings or circumstances to rev up my creative juices. But it didn’t take me long to recall those who held my hand as I began my love affair with the written word, as well as the ones who paved the way for me on this journey of self-exploration. Or, my life as a writer.
Anne Lamott, in her book Bird by Bird, is the first author whose words challenged me to break free of the excuses and “take it bird by bird.” In her book, she speaks about her older brother who procrastinated on a book report about birds which was now due the following day. The task ahead of him appeared insurmountable when Lamott’s father “sat down beside him, put his arm around [her] brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’”
Currently, I’m in a season where my writing revolves around blogs and articles. I haven’t sat down and written my novel just yet. So for me, I’m taking it blog by blog. And I’m also avidly following guidance from another one of my muses: Stephen King. In his book On Writing, he reminds writers to read a lot and write a lot. I tend to go in spurts — right now I’ve been reading a lot. My muse was recently rediscovered in between the pages of Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain and Blake Crouch’s Snowbound. Consequently, I’m feeling one step closer to sitting down and tackling the writing a lot part of King’s advice.
Another writer, Lee Gutkind, ASU professor and managing editor of Creative Nonfiction magazine, also incites me to explore life’s next adventure. In his essay, “The Five Rs of Creative Nonfiction,” he encourages writers to seize our sense of wonder by immersion, or the “real life” aspect of the writing experience. The four remaining Rs include reflection, research, read (this cannot be stressed enough!) and “writing.” Simple but sage counsel.
With his sardonic, humble wit, David Sedaris inspires me with his edgier pieces, touching on off-the-wall topics that both entertain and challenge. My daughter and I once waited six hours in line to meet the man in person and receive an autographed copy of his book Squirrel Meets Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary. He did not disappoint; neither did the book.
But I’ve also discovered that even the underdogs may rise up among the famous. One such muse of mine is a close friend incarcerated for the next few years. He tutors other inmates in math, takes college courses while serving his sentence and studies the craft of memoir writing late into the evening hours. And then he pounds out his daily observations on a typewriter, the kind with ribbons, platen and correction tape. He motivates me as he devours book after book, doing what each of the successful writers who have gone before us have done and continue to do.
I read because I love it. I write because I cannot help it. So I grab onto the shirt tails of those who make it look easy and hope a little of their spunk (and a whole lot of talent) rubs off on me. They are the ones who have paved the way and carved a niche in the literary world. The guiding spirit(s) for my truth.
Do you have a famous — or not so famous — muse that inspires?
Ofure Ikharebha is a social networking intern pursuing a degree in Linguistics with a concentration in English, and a certificate in TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages). Upon graduating, she hopes to either attend graduate school for a master’s degree or jump into a career in publishing, editing, or localization.
Ofure was born on the West Coast, but Phoenix is where she has spent the majority of her time growing up. As a child, she was always an avid reader and developed a burgeoning interest in literature and language; Ofure believes that this is all due in part to her parents having used “Hooked on Phonics” and an interactive alphabet desk. Oh, to be a child of the ’90s…
While many might find the “classics” boring, they are Ofure’s literature of choice. This interest was first cultivated in middle school after reading various works by John Steinbeck, George Orwell, and Ray Bradbury. (You’d actually be hard-pressed to find her admitting her deep appreciation for old school sci-fi.) Aside from reading, she also enjoys embarking on creative projects, studying languages, watching a wide variety of television shows (from Asian dramas to Breaking Bad), and blogging.
Ofure applied to SR out of necessity and curiosity; while the extrinsic values of gaining more internship experience within a desired field are important, she is most excited about working with a team to organize a literary magazine issue and the publishing process. With her internship at Superstition Review, she hopes to help develop and maintain an active social media presence and put her years of extensive social networking use to good work.
One of Ofure’s favorite poems is John Gillespie Magee, Jr’s “High Flight”:
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air….
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
– Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.