Welcome to the second Ghost-themed special episodes of Write, Publish, and Shine as I take you on a deep dive into the creation of Room magazine issue 46.3, Ghosts, where I was lead editor of the issue.
Why do lit mag editors choose the pieces they do? One answer to this question is “deeply personal”—by which I mean we pick work that resonates because of the deeply personal revelations and subject matter inside. In this episode of Write, Publish, and Shine, hear from two writers working in that deep, personal space in their writing, Reyzl Grace and Annette C. Boehm.
You can pick up your copy of Room 46.3, Ghosts (digital or print) at roommagazine.com.
Notes from the Episode
- Reyzl Grace’s website
- Annette C. Boehm’s website
- Reyzl Grace is a poetry editor for Psaltery & Lyre and Cordella Magazine
- Rezyl Grace’s work “The Rosary of Thanatos” is about Delmira Agustini
- Reyzl Grace mentioned Stephen King’s book On Writing, Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and the poet Mina Loy’s influence on her work.
- Reyzl Grace said her work was transformed by reading her friend Elisheva Fox’s Spellbook for the Sabbath Queen.
- Reyzl Grace talked about the human need to communicate and illustrated this with mention of gorilla’s use of sign language and how deaf children in Nicaragua created a new language.
- Annette mentioned two writing newsletters, one from Erica Dreyfus (the practicing writer) and one from Emily Stoddard.
Do you crave support and structure so you can write your most luminous work? The Write, Publish, Shine Intensive starts today! Write, Revise, and Publish Your Luminous Writing with lots of support from me.
#81 Write, Publish, Shine Episode Transcript
|TABLE OF CONTENTS|
|00:26 – 02:30||Episode Intro|
|02:31 – 40:27||Interview with Reyzl Grace|
|04:04 – 04:46||The opening paragraph of “The Rosary of Thanatos”|
|09:31 – 13:36||Reyzl’s experience of publishing with Room|
|13:38 – 18:58||How often Reyzl submit writing to lit mags and how did he choose when and where to submit?|
|18:59 – 21:26||How do Reyzl handle feedback, both good and bad about his writing?|
|21:27 – 26:55||What is currently haunting Reyzl in his writing? What is Reyzl working on?|
|26:56 – 40:27||Quick Lit Round|
|40:29 – 41:32||Reyzl’s Interview Outro|
|41:35 – 44:49||Ad Here|
|44:51 – 1:11:34||Interview with Annette C. Boehm|
|46:12 – 47:22||Why did Annette submit to Room’s Ghost Issue?|
|47:23 – 48:47||How Annette wrote the poem and how those themes were resonating within her as she wrote it?|
|48:52 – 49:41||Poem: Credits: Dead Girl #3|
|49:44 – 57:10||What other themes that Annette feel drawn to write about her work, and what is she currently writing?|
|57:11 – 1:02:13||How Annette came to submit her poem to Room?|
|1:02:14 – 1:06:40||How does Annette handle feedback, both good and bad?|
|1:06:43 – 1:11:34||Quick Lit Round|
|1:11:35 – 1:12:11||Annette’s Interview Outro|
|1:12:11 – 1:13:13||Interview Outro|
|1:13:15 – 1:15:08||Episode Outro|
- Annette C. Boehm
- Rachel Thompson
- Reyzl Grace
Rachel Thompson: 00:01
Welcome luminous writers to the Write, Publish and Shine Podcast. I am your host, author and literary magazine editor Rachel Thompson. This podcast explores how to write and share your brilliant writing with the world. In each episode, we delve into specifics on how to polish and prepare your writing for publication, and the journey from emerging writer to published author.
Hello, luminous writers and welcome to the second in my series of special episodes of Write, Publish and Shine. As I take you on a deep dive into the creation of Room magazine Issue 46.3. This is the issue where I was most recently lead editor of Room’s issue, 46.3. The theme was ghosts.
You can find it available now at roommagazine.com.
For more context on this series of episodes, I encourage you to go back just to the episode right prior to this one, episode number 80. As I’m going to bring you right into the second episode now featuring contributors to the Ghosts issue of Room. So, we had two contributors before and we have two more today.
What does it take to haunt your reader? In this case, myself, I’m the reader and my assistant editor, Ellen Chang Richardson for this issue. We’re both responsible for choosing the pieces that landed in our issue. One thing that truly resonates and haunts us as readers is when writers express the deeply personal in their writing, especially in the genres of creative nonfiction and poetry. But the same can be said in the truths that fiction reveal as well.
I felt brought into what I don’t think is overstating it, a sacred trust from the two writers that you’re going to hear from today, who both share very personal human vulnerabilities in their work. So, let’s get up close and personal with them.
First, I spoke with brilliant writer, Reyzl Grace, who sent us the creative nonfiction story “The Rosary of Thanatos”—a story that recounts the journey, the writer took both literally and metaphorically. I loved so much of this work and in particular, there’s a line which I even quoted in my editor’s letter—“I am the ghost, and the paper is only a spectre,” which felt like words that could apply to all of us who produced this issue.
I’m going to be talking more about what the theme means in upcoming episodes as well.
Reyzl Grace is a poet, essayist, translator, and librarian whose multilingual work reflects her experiences growing up in what was once the Russian Empire and growing into herself as a transgender Ashkenazi woman. She is an editor for Psaltery & Lyre and Cordella Magazine, and both her editorial and writing experiences contributed to her very helpful and at times, incredibly touching responses to my questions in our conversation. (Yeah, you’re going to hear me move to tears in real time during our chat!)
For warning: Here’s Reyzl, who rose early in the morning to speak with me…
I want to just thank you so much for being here, Reyzl Grace, to share with our listeners of the Write, Publish and Shine podcast about your experience in publishing in our Room Ghosts Issue and talk a bit about your writing practice. Thank you so much for being here.
Reyzl Grace: 03:26
Thank you for having me. So excited to be with you this morning.
Rachel Thompson: 03:29
Yeah, and I appreciate. Normally, people don’t really necessarily know what time of day that we’re doing this. I appreciate that you have moved in the early hours of your morning to be somewhere quiet where we can have this conversation. Thank you for that.
I wanted to just dive right into your piece “The Rosary of Thanatos,” because it describes a quest and it takes us, the reader on a quest to visit the grave of Delmira Agustini, and I want to talk more about Delmira Agustini, but I wanted to start by asking if you would read the opening paragraph that kind of sets us on that journey in your piece?
Reyzl Grace: 04:03
“I probably look like a wraith when I operate in the office of a cemetery caretaker at nine sharp after an all night ferry and bus from Buenos Aires and two hours circumambulating the walls in an almost psychotropic predawn light, explaining in Spanish that reveals how much more I read than speak. They’ve traveled 6000 miles and I have to see her. I am a chronically depressed 26-year-old desperately in need of a role model. Delmira Agustini is everything I have ever wanted to be, supremely gifted as a poet, beautiful and elegantly dressed, dead at 28. I will eventually learn that all of these desires are fairly common in people struggling with gender dysphoria, but I’ll be older than 28 when that happens.”
Rachel Thompson: 04:47
There’s so much in that opening I think, that’s why I wanted you to read that because it sets us up that we’re going on a journey, but it tells us what’s really at stake for the writer in this creative nonfiction piece, and it also kind of puts the idea of peril for the writer in question, but then it answers that right away too, it’s like, no, no, it’s not about this. It’s about that.
I’m wondering how you chose where to start this piece because it feels like such a deliberate and thoughtful choice?
Reyzl Grace: 05:15
I’m not sure that I know. It kind of came to me just after fiddling, I mean in the way that you do. Like most of my essays and short stories, I’ve started in six different places before, and a rewrite, like, I hit the one that really catches, and I think that one was… and you can tell me if I’m getting ahead of things here, but like, I’ve wanted to write something about this for a long time. I think in part because when readers read the essay, they’ll understand why I say this. I felt like I needed to make some kind of confession. I felt really conflicted about this experience. It was intensely meaningful for me. But also afterward, as I reflected on it, I was really like,
“I’m really not sure that that’s actually what I should have done in this circumstance.”
I felt I needed some kind of expiation by writing something about this, once the statute of limitations for extradition to Uruguay had expired. But I didn’t know how to get a handle on it. So, it sat in the back of my mind literally for years. Like, I want to do something with that. I feel like I need to say something about that. But I don’t know how to say it. Then this call appeared with this theme, Ghosts.
When I saw the call, and I was super excited. I’ve always wanted to be in Room like that would be incredible to be in, but like, what am I going to do with this theme, and then that’s when the click happened for me. I was like,
“Ah, this is like the key that can help me unlock that, this is the approach into that experience that can help me unpack it.”
That brought me to that opening. That I think is where like the initial germ of like, I need to start in the cemetery. I need to start with that comparison and that role flip, like I couldn’t have gotten there if I didn’t see this call, and then play off of that to unlock that. But once I had that it was like, now I know, like this doesn’t begin like on a plane to point of size, it doesn’t begin on the ferry over there. It doesn’t begin like a whole bunch of places I could have started it. It has to start in the cemetery because it’s about a haunting.
Rachel Thompson: 07:25
I love that, because I’ve spoken to a couple other contributors in this podcast preparation, this series that we’re doing, and they have also spoken about submitting to the call for submissions, and that that was like the kernel that kind of inspired them, obviously, they have the story like you had locked inside you. Then you’re like, okay, here’s a key that I can use to unlock the story. I love that. That’s about like, where you started, I guess physically in the story, if that makes sense, in the story, I think so. But then there’s the emotional start as well, too, which I also found. It’s like, it’s what makes it compelling is sort of these two things that are happening is like, okay, we’re on a journey and there’s a purpose to the journey. It’s meaningful in these ways to this writer.
I guess that’s more of an observation than a question. But if you wanted to talk more about that, I’d love to hear.
Reyzl Grace: 08:13
I guess, I mean, that was the piece that was waiting to slot in, I couldn’t write this piece until I’d come out. So, it sat for a long time, I think because of that, also, because I didn’t have the perspective, to be able to reframe really what I had been doing or what I should have been doing. I think that’s like, I’ve worked in education. Most of my life, I’ve spent a lot of time working with children and it’s always like, you’ve done something, but it’s not just about apologizing and being like, oh, that thing I did isn’t… What should you have done and what can you do now? And until I came out, I didn’t have the framing to be able to go back to that experience and be like, what is it that I like, kind of want to advise my past self that maybe I should have done? Like, what is it that is that lesson for growth here?
Rachel Thompson: 09:02
Yeah, that really makes a lot of sense. I appreciate that as the CNF writer, myself and working with CNF writers, it’s like, the thing that we have about our stories is we have to actually live and get to a place of growth so that we can then reflect back on those experiences. So, yeah, that’s really important. Thank you for telling our listeners about that.
We’ve already covered kind of my stock questions like why did you submit to Room’s Ghosts Issue? So that was great to hear about the call, calling you in that way.
Can you maybe talk a bit about what happened I guess when you hit submit? The experience of publishing with us? How was it? I guess I’m asking for a review, I guess. I don’t know.
Reyzl Grace: 09:44
No, it was lovely. It was really funny especially like in the context of that journey like of my coming out because I first encountered Room years and years and years ago like when I started out seriously in writing. I mean I’ve been right writing since I was like five years old. When I started actually like sending things out, places for publication and trying to get kind of into that more professional writers space, I quickly ran across Room. I remember reading this magazine and being like, the work in here is just top notch like you would be somebody if you were in Room, but then also like not having come out yet at that point, like having to felt like, but I will never be in Room like nobody in Room ever wanted to hear from me. So, it was incredibly validating to have this call come up and be like, I have something to say that somebody would actually want to hear that the readers of Room might actually want to read and then to send that in and to get that acceptance was just incredible, both like, as a writer and as a trans woman to come into the space of feminist community that Room holds was incredibly powerful. Thank you for that.
But in terms of like the process as a writer, it felt very smooth, the call did a really good job I felt of articulating what the editors were wanting to see, while leaving enough space for interpretation to be able to take that a lot of different ways. I felt like it really hit that sweet spot of inspiration and guidance, but freedom for the writer, the process itself, I mean, going through this middle persistence is smooth. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I received a response given like there’s a very venerable publication that’s receiving lots of submissions, I’m used to waiting a very long time from places, but I felt like it really moved fairly quickly.
The communication was clear and consistent throughout like the gallery process and the reviews and there were a couple corrections that I sent back, it was like, oh, there needs to be an adjustment here in the header or whatever it was very small things, and then they’ve got taken care of very, very quickly. Then at the end it comes out in the magazine. I mean, it’s beautifully produced magazine. It’s just lovely to get to see it there.
Rachel Thompson: 11:59
Thank you. I really just want to thank you so much. Because what makes the magazine so awesome is that people do trust us with their stories and saving up that story to find that place to submit to and so happy that Room is welcoming in that sense and that we attract such great writers with great things to share. Thank you for trusting us and contributing to this.
Reyzl Grace: 12:23
Well, thank you for making the space. I’m glad that you mentioned that because it bears saying that it really mattered like that Room is a space that can be trusted with this kind of work.
Of all the things I have ever written, this is probably the one I was most nervous about putting out to be read by strangers, because of its confessional nature, because it’s showing me a really important moment in my life, but not necessarily like one of the moments I’m proudest of. So, the fact that room provides that space where I felt like that could be held in a spirit of inquiry and healing and repetitive reading, I was able to share that without feeling like I was going to be exposed in doing so. I think that has a lot to do with the tone of the magazine that the editorial board maintains and that contributors consistently maintain, and the way that community is built around the publication.
Rachel Thompson: 13:23
Yeah, I’m hoping that our dancing around more of the themes in the events of the story is attracting people to want to pick up an issue and read the story because it’s brilliant. I really hope they do.
Reyzl Grace: 13:34
I’m trying not to spoil it too hard.
Rachel Thompson: 13:38
Speaking of that trust, I guess you mentioned that this is maybe the piece that felt most sensitive to you. But when you’re sending out your work in general, how often are you doing that? How do you choose where to submit? And I should qualify that I’m asking because our listeners are mostly emerging writers who are also navigating those waters as well.
Reyzl Grace: 13:58
Sure that has changed markedly over the time that I’ve been doing this. When I got into it, I was absolutely guilty of being that person who just like shot guns stuff out to any place that is open. In my early 20s, I did plenty of that, spend hours and hours just going like alphabetically through the list and do a job. And that was effective to the extent that I did lay into pieces and get published, and that helped kind of get me started. But it’s also a really inefficient way to go about things, and ultimately not a very satisfying one. Because… I think this is something we’re going to talk about later, like what are literary magazine is or what it does. I think when I first came to trying to get my work out there I was thinking of it as just kind of square footage of paper that words can go on. Right? It’s like well, why not my words like get them on. Actually something that I learned from working in academic publishing, which I did for a long time, and I worked on like scholarly journals, and really got a sense have like the Community of Practice, disciplinarily that goes around a journal that’s dedicated to a particular topic and working on those boards and being like, everybody knows, like we do blind review of things. But everybody knows everybody who ends up slipping into this, because they all work on the same things.
Seeing that community built there, gave me some insight, at that point I hadn’t been… Now, I work on literary magazines. I’m an editor for a couple of them. At that point, I hadn’t had that in really yet. But then I was able to conceptualize it. Literary magazines doing the same thing. It’s not just pages that work and gone. It’s a community that forms around the magazine. When I became a lot more deliberate about where I send and what I send, where. And it’s also partly just the process of maturing as a writer and getting a better sense, I think of who I write for and that I know, like, there’s a certain school of thought that’s like, I hit like, universal human experiences and try to, it’s like, I mean, hopefully, yeah, there’s some layers of that. But it’s not fundamentally what I’m doing, there are definitely audiences that I’m writing more for than I am other audiences like. So, finding the venues that make the connections with the community is that I think, are going to get the most out of what it is that I have to put on the page.
At this point, it’s a mix of things, over the course of the years, I’ve gotten to no different publications and no editors behind them. I kind of have my staple of the ones that I’m really familiar with. Social media has been huge and this is why… If anybody out there is kind of coming into the writing community, and they’re like, why is everybody melting down about Elon Musk and Twitter, it’s because the Twitter was such a powerful tool for this, it transformed what I was able to do as a writer because I could go and I could follow these journals, I could follow their editors. I read a great piece that just blew me away by somebody, somewhere and then I followed them. Then that created the links and the recommendations, they retweet it. Then I’m seeing the calls that are interesting to them, and that networking really made it possible to find your niche and to get yourself in there. Like, I have pieces that I’ve published, that happened entirely because some editor made an offhand comment on Twitter. And I was like, I’d love to contribute something to that. That landed me an essay in The Times of Israel, like, just incredible opportunities that come out of that. It’s really about like finding that niche and finding that connection. So
Now, when new writers are asking me, how do I get started? I say, you set up a Twitter, or maybe now blue sky, we’ll see what happens, right? But yeah, set up this account, and you follow these folks, and you find the publications that are speaking to experiences that you have to communities that you’re already a part of, that are important to you, you make those kinds of connections. Then you go through really thinking about, like, who am I talking to here? And how do I get in front of those people? So that’s really shifted the way that I approach it.
But at this point, I’ve got kind of that staple of things, then I’ve got like a broader range of things that I just happen to hear about. Still, I’m depending on the piece, I may still get some of those. So, my core now really is a lot more targeted to like piece publications, I know or like spaces I want to be in, and the work that’s closest to me is going very deliberately to them. But I’ve always got like just some stray things lying around that are like this, like, could kind of go anywhere. Then like, if somebody I know retweets the call from someplace like I haven’t heard of this before, but it’s open, like I’ve got five minutes, I’ll send them three. But yeah, the core of it is much more targeted now than it used to be.
Rachel Thompson: 18:36
I love hearing that about that progression. Because it’s like, also a journey, I guess, but of like, self-knowledge as a writer too. And going, okay, this is what I’m hitting on in my writing and this is who I’m speaking to, and really understanding. It’s so important, I think to know that we’re not speaking to everyone and thinking about the real, more specific audience that we’re speaking to. So, thank you. That was great.
I guess, with that new development in your writing, wondering, how do you handle feedback, both good and bad, about your writing today, and maybe even compared to before? Let’s say.
Reyzl Grace: 19:10
In a submissions context, I mean, the good news is that you don’t actually get that much bad feedback, you just get rejections and they tend to be for rejection. So, it’s not like, people are giving you negative feedback about things. Although, I think sometimes beginning writers do take the form rejection itself as negative feedback about things. I know, editors will say this till they’re blue in the face. And I will repeat it both as like an editor, a couple of different places myself and as a writer, the form rejection is not actually criticism of your work. It is a statement that it was not the work that an editor needed right at this moment. I’m actually in the process right now of assembling a manuscript for submission for my first poetry collection and that process is very illuminating because I’m going through my own work and being like I really love this poem, but it just doesn’t belong in this group of poems that are doing this particular thing. It’s my own poem, and I love it, but I’m cutting it.
It’s important to bear that in mind, when you get that form rejection, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything about whether or not the editors liked your poem, it means they didn’t find that it fit with what they’re trying to put together right now, because there’s a whole separate art to curating a body of work, a collection of things that all fit together and that hang together and that keep a consistent like theme or focus. That is a separate art and a separate discipline from writing the individual pieces. Don’t take those farm rejections to heart.
I am occasionally fortunate to get some positive feedback or some useful suggestions of like, this wasn’t our thing. But have you considered asking over here. Now, from some editors that I know and that’s another advantage to taking that more targeted approach, like when you are a repeat submitter to a publication that you’ve got some kind of affinity with in some way, then you start to sometimes get a little bit more like personalized feedback on things and helpful suggestions, which is lovely. Another, great advantage, I found to take more targeted approach.
Rachel Thompson: 21:16
Yeah, I love building that relationship. It’s so true that when you see someone submitting multiple times, you start to kind of recognize their work and get a sense of them too.
Rachel Thompson: 21:27
I want to ask you about what you’re currently working on, you just mentioned a book of poems. I guess, those are written I suspect, and you’re putting them together into a book, but what is currently haunting you, in your writing in any fresh writing that you’re working on?
Reyzl Grace: 21:43
I certainly thought the process of putting together a collection was mostly going to be okay, like, I’ve got this body of things that I’ve written, I think there’s a collections worth of material here that I’m really proud of, I’m going to like put that together. What I found is that it’s not as simple as that.
As I’ve been assembling that, and maybe it’s partly the subject material. A lot of it is stuff that I’ve written over the last couple of years, and has very much to do with this journey of like coming out in transition and reflecting back over various instances in my life like this, like with a new kind of perspective and a new understanding. As I’ve been assembling that, I keep hitting these points where I’m like, there’s a piece missing, I’ve got an arc going through this section that’s conveying something important. But I don’t have something that gets the reader from here to here, those pieces are written like that thing in the middle is gone. So, I find myself writing a whole lot more new material in the four weeks before, I’m supposed to have this into the publishers deadline. There’s a lot more writing of new material than I expected.
Some of the things that I am playing with really intensely in that that have been coming out of that are a lot of intersection of thought about gender and heritage and mortality. The way that our identity is relate to time, and transform over time, and are shaped by different contexts in time, through a series of deaths and rebirths, and the way that we sometimes have to rebirth ourselves and are sometimes rebirthed, by other people or by events.
A number of the things that I’ve written recently, I find are kind of more storytelling pieces, they’re short stories in verse, a lot of them in different ways that now like play on this and set these kinds of personifications are characters that are able to carry parts of myself into different historical settings and contexts that create opportunities for them to explore that.
Rachel Thompson: 23:52
That’s very exciting. Is there a time frame for that collection or what’s happening?
Reyzl Grace: 23:58
Right now the time frame is just, I need to submit this to the publishers contest by the 15th.
Rachel Thompson: 24:03
Reyzl Grace: 24:05
Then we’ll see what happens after that. But that’s my horizon. I have to keep reminding myself that once you get that editorial process in getting feedback. Nobody writes a brilliant collection, as it is the first time and then sends it in, and the publisher just prints what’s been sent. So, I keep reminding myself too that I’m going to send this in, and then I am going to get a bunch of feedback. At that point, you do start to get more detailed feedback, and some of it might be like, this is not working, this isn’t flowing here, is this piece really necessary. There’s going to be an opportunity to rework with some of that input and some of that perspective. So, I keep reminding myself this isn’t necessarily the thing that’s going to go out the door from the print shop. It just needs to be the best mockup of that that I can give to an editor.
Rachel Thompson: 24:52
That’s a really good thing to remember to get out of your head because I think sometimes there’s that analysis paralysis almost that happened. It’s where it’s like you’re trying to get it to be perfect or quoting here, which doesn’t work on our podcast. But anyway, that will speak. Then you don’t get it out the door because you’re like, oh, well, I haven’t got it to that perfect place yet.
Reyzl Grace: 25:11
Yeah, well, I start nitpicking like every word with my sentence, and especially because of the nature of a lot of things that I write. You see that a little bit in this essay, it’s about Delmira Agustini. A lot of what I write is very richly intersexual there’s a lot of references and a lot of illusions that I just wrote a poem and I tweeted about this, like, the wild thing about being a writer. Somebody would be like, what was it like for you being in the closet and you’d be like, hold on, and then three days later, you come back with these 17 stanzas about a Belarusian Yeshiva student who accidentally incinerates a mythical prophetic bird by the intensity of concentration on a 14th century Hebrew essay, like that is literally a piece that’s in this collection or going to be if the editor doesn’t come back and go,
“No, this isn’t working for me.”
But like there’s so much interwoven in like these historical references, in these literary references, I think it becomes extra easy to get bogged down there, because I’m doing research, I’m writing an academic paper, and it’s like, is this exactly the quote from that author that I should be using in this? Is there a better one? Do I need to read all of their collected works to make sure I’ve got the best symbolic reference for them in this one half line? Where I’m going to kind of allude to them in case the reader knows them? Like, it enriches the thing? Then yeah, I have to stop myself again. Or I could use the quote that I thought of in the first place, because it was the thing that actually made me think of this and start down this, and just call that good.
Rachel Thompson: 26:42
I love it. These are real writerly problems. It’s like getting that perfect quote. That’s fascinating. I’m just really excited to see that collection out in the world one day, so I will be looking for that.
I want to bring us to what I call the Quick Lit round, but it doesn’t have to- it can be quick or slow. You can fill in the blanks as I start these sentences, you complete them as you’d like.
Reyzl Grace: 27:06
For the next six months, I will answer. Yeah.
Rachel Thompson: 27:08
Yes, exactly. Do some research and think about illusions, that’ll work. I am calling on you to do it in this moment of time, but you can take as long or as brief as you’d like to complete.
The first is,
Being a writer is…
Reyzl Grace: 27:25
It’s weird and it’s tremendously rewarding. It’s really hard, much more so than I think a lot of people think it’s going to be when they get started, certainly been than I did. But I think if I had to pick one thing, at least at this moment, with the stuff that I’m working on now, it would be being a writer is an act of faith in other people.
I mentioned before that I used to work in radio, and I would work late night shifts in radio, then this would come to my mind a lot to like, there’s a faith that I speak into this microphone, and somebody is listening, because nobody could be, like nobody could be tuned in right now. I could just be talking to myself, in this chat, in basement room at 2:30 in the morning. But you choose to believe, somebody out there has tuned in for this. Somebody out there wants to hear this. In writing, to me is very much like that, too. I write so much stuff. This just depends on such a weird concatenation of like things and experiences and knowledge that I happen to have. Where am I going to find the transsexual Russian Jew, like with an extensive knowledge of Byzantine history and Orthodox Christian theology, they would be required to decode this thing I just wrote, but you have to believe that somebody out there is the reader for that work.
This is the thing I’ve learned in librarianship too. There was an Indian librarian named Ranganathan. In the 30s, he wrote this book, articulated his five laws of librarianship that are still like how the whole profession operates. Two of them are that every book has its reader, and every reader has their book. I think as a writer, too, those are good laws to bear in mind. Whatever it is you write, there is somebody out there, who is the reader for that. Before you’ve even written it, there’s somebody out there who needs this to be their book. You just have to believe it and keep going.
Rachel Thompson: 29:28
That does feel like a good philosophy to follow when it comes to writers as well.
My second fill in the blank is,
Literary magazines are…
Reyzl Grace: 29:37
I touched on this one before. Literary magazines are communities. They’re groups of people, and those people are doing something by being together in that space. To my mind, the secret to successful submissions is understanding like, what is the thing that people in this space are trying to do? Is that the thing that you can and want to contribute to? Once you can answer those questions, you know whether or not this is where you want to put your work. Is this the place you are reading, people that are talking about the things that you care about, and talking about them in ways that moved you, because that’s where you want to be with your work as well. The community aspect to me is everything about a magazine.
Rachel Thompson: 30:21
I’m nodding, because part agree on that.
Editing requires… as you’re binding right now.
Reyzl Grace: 30:29
Brutality. But more than that, again, like so many things that could go in there, and they’d all be true. But if I have to pick one, I would say editing requires growth. There’s that famous saying about,
“You can’t like fix a problem with the same mindset that created the problem.”
It’s the same way with writing like, you can’t rewrite this piece from the same place that you wrote it in. There has to be some growth. Sometimes that’s macro level. I mean, with this essay, where it’s like, I have this idea, I’ve jotted down some notes, but it’s not coming together, I’m not happy with what I’m getting. Then go and it sits for years while you figure it out.
Sometimes it happens on a very micro level. The growth that you need to rewrite that piece is just the growth that you did writing it the first time, like you get to the end, and you’re like, oh, now I understand so much better, I’m going to go back to the beginning. Or sometimes it’s just like, you jot down some notes and then you sleep on it, or like I do a lot of revising or like genesis of ideas on my commute to work. That is the growth time I need is that 30 minutes of silence and isolation. Where I can think my own thoughts without my adorable 9-year-old clambering all over me. So, yeah…
Rachel Thompson: 31:47
That’s a parent speaking, because I recognize that.
Reyzl Grace: 31:51
So, yeah, like the growth might be something that takes years of maturation and it might be the insight that you have in that small moment. But like, there has to be that growth, when you come back to rewrite, in some way, you’re a different person than the person who wrote this the first time.
Rachel Thompson: 32:07
It strikes me, normally, I don’t interrupt my own Quick Lit round. But what you’re saying also is true, one thing I see sometimes with writers is they can’t see themselves on the finish line necessarily, because they don’t understand the growth that’s going to happen just by doing the writing itself, and then having that growth and being able to do the editing, and it’s like, you’re going to go through all these steps and then you’ll be able to sound smart in the interview about your book or whatever, because you have done all of that other work in between. So, you don’t need to start there. You’re going to finish there. But you need to start.
Reyzl Grace: 32:40
I was just telling my sister, it’s the best kind of therapy, you can say, I’m writing new material now to fill in these gaps. Like, I keep writing things and be like, I didn’t know that about myself.
Rachel Thompson: 32:51
Reyzl Grace: 32:51
There’s so much. Yeah, so much that you discover it. But you can’t do it unless you actually sit down in front of the paper physically or virtually. I do most of my writing in Google Keep notes, in Google Docs. But sit down in front of it and give it the time and do that really hard work of putting something on that page, when you’re not sure what goes on that page yet. It’s late, but it’ll come. That’s another part of being a writer is inactive faith. It’s faith in yourself too and as well as a readership.
Rachel Thompson: 33:23
Yeah, and faith in that growth, too. Because I was thinking too, what if there isn’t that reader, I think there always is. But what even if there isn’t that reader out there, to me, the writing itself is also of merit, like we need to do it anyway. And like you said, the faith in ourselves.
Okay. I’ll stop interrupting my own Quick Lit round here.
Rejection for a writer means…
Reyzl Grace: 33:43
Nothing! Nothing at all. All it means is that one person at that moment did not find that this thing you wrote was the thing they needed to read. This was not the book for this reader at this time. It might be tomorrow, it might have been yesterday, if they’d encountered at that and they’ve just moved on. It will be for somebody else. All that means is this was not the connection of minds that needed to happen in the universe at this particular moment. But it’s a big universe, and there’s lots of connections to be made.
Rachel Thompson: 34:13
Writing community is…
Reyzl Grace: 34:16
So much more important than you think it is. There is this pop culture idea, I think of the writer as this kind of isolated figure and it comes out of this whole romantic tradition. I think it like that Caspar David Friedrich painting, lay out the Wanderer above the Sea of Fog. We think of like the Romantic poets, and it was very much this, like, I go out, it’s like into the wilderness alone to be with my thoughts and with God, and channel my inspiration, that and then like, it’s a thing that people will talk about, quite legitimately when they’re talking about the grind of the work that you have to make the time and you have to make the space. I know so many people who have read Stephen King’s writing, On Writing and that’s the thing that he talks about is like, I had to go into the room and close the door and do the thing. In that respect, Virginia Woolf too like a room of one’s own. So, it’s a thing that we talked about, because it’s important, and it’s hard to stake out that space in that time.
But it doesn’t all happen there, it can’t happen. If that’s kind of all you’re doing. I was just telling a good friend of mine, Ella Shaefa Fox, she just came out with her first poetry collection from Belle Point Press, called [Spellbook for the Sabbath Queen](https://bellepointpress.com/products/spellbook-for-the-sabbath-queen#:~:text=Spellbook for the Sabbath Queen%2C by Elisheva Fox,our own longings for home.), and it’s brilliant. But I was talking to her about this process is I’m putting stuff together for what I hope will be my first published collection. When I told her there’s a couple of pieces in here that you’ve seen that are dedicated to you, but I feel like I should dedicate the whole book to you, because what you’ve shown me through your work has so transformed the way that I approach my work. I wouldn’t be the writer that I am today, if it weren’t for her.
Going back before that, in previous iterations of my growth as a writer, Mina Loy, who was like early 20th century Anglo American poet, I discovered her work in my early 20s. That was somebody else who just completely overturned my idea of what poetry is and what it could do, and what the English language is capable of. So, Loy’s work was tremendously important.
There’s a community through time and historically, and there’s also a community in the present with your contemporaries and people you can actually talk to, and be like, hey, how did you organize these pieces. The sharing of ideas in the brainstorming, but even more than that, just the opportunity to interact on a human level with somebody whose mind works in ways that you find enlightening and inspiring and enriching, and who will spark and capitalize even when they’re not trying to, like, spark and catalyze ideas for you, it wouldn’t have come up otherwise. So very much like the, you don’t know what’s going to come out until you sit down at that page and make it happen. You also, have no idea how important that’s going to be until you just make time to be with those people and make it a priority to build those relationships, and interact, and check in on them with a text message every once in a while, just because that is so enriching, and as humans, this is kind of fundamental to our nature. It’s super important.
I think all the time about gorillas and sign language, because gorillas can be taught sign language. They can express extremely complex ideas linguistically, through sign language, once you teach them. A lot of people have seen video clips of asking for bananas. But you go through like that research. There’s cases where gorillas narrate stories about things that happened to them or other gorillas in their pod. It’s very sophisticated, and yet, no primate spontaneously has ever developed a system of linguistic communication, and they don’t teach each other. You can teach them and they’ll use it with handlers and with trainers, and they will not teach it to other gorillas. I find this really remarkable because humans very famously, there’s a very famous case in linguistics from Nicaragua, where at one point, like they created the first school for deaf children in Nicaragua. They brought these children from all over the country, and most had no formal sign language experience or training, because there were no other deaf people like in their villages, many of them had, like a handful of kinds of signs that have been ad hoc worked out with their families, but they were all different. They brought all these students together. To the utter astonishment of the staff of the school over the course of a few months, they watched in real time as the students created an entire functioning sign language with a shared vocabulary with rules of grammar that they all adhere to.
This contrast is so incredible to me that like you can teach gorillas the sign and they’ll use it and they’ll tell you stories, and they won’t share it with other gorillas. You can put a bunch of human beings together who have no shared linguistic basis, and in a matter of months, they will create a language because the need to communicate is so powerful. It’s so intrinsic to what makes us human, not the ability, like other things have the intelligence to do it, but the proclivity, the emotional need to do it, that gorillas don’t seem to have. They don’t seem to have, but that we do. So, that like undergirds some of my thinking to about writing community, like writing communities, very special case of that. But it builds out of that same like very deep seated, very essential human need.
Yes, by all means, get a room of your own and set yourself in it to do some real work without kids climbing on you. But make sure that you’re also being just as serious and intentional about participating in community about building friendships with other writers about having those opportunities to exchange ideas and just to kind of marinate in each other’s ways of seeing the world. Because that’s powerfully transformative.
Rachel Thompson: 39:58
Oh my goodness. Reyzl, you’ve moved me with your writing submission. You’ve moved me with this story to tears a little bit. So, I’m a little bit clumped, shall we say, from that. But thank you so much for sharing your passion for writing and your ideas of community. I’ve really enjoyed this conversation. I’m really grateful to you. Thank you.
Reyzl Grace: 40:19
No, thank you so much for inviting me in and for having a chat. This has been a lovely way to start my day over in this time zone.
Rachel Thompson: 40:29
So that was Reyzl Grace. I told you that was moving, right? I’m not crying, you’re crying. No, I was definitely crying, too, at the end of that interview.
While I was very moved, I was also really moved by the trust that Reyzl put into us, Room magazine, the community that we are, the editors who we are. I don’t take that lightly at all that writers need to have that kind of trust, or an even, have that kind of faith in us before they contribute personal revealing writing that seeks to deeply connect with us and our readers. I think that’s really noteworthy for any writer who wants to follow that example from both of the writers featured in this episode contributors to Room 46.3. That trust that you want to have with the places where you will eventually send your work or send your most vulnerable work, let’s say. I think that’s really vital, to be selective and to really pick the right environment to receive your words.
Rachel Thompson: 41:35
Hello, luminous writers! Stepping away for a moment, from my conversations with two writers just having finished that fairly intense conversation with Rezyl Grace, which is a word intense that often describes my favorite conversations, and also describes or sort of describes anyway, the program that I’m going to tell you about the Write, Publish and Shine Intensive, currently open for registration.
When you’re hearing this, if you’re listening on the day of release, this is actually the final day for registration for this session of the Write, Publish and Shine Intensive.
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Do you crave support and structure so that you can write your most luminous work?
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Rachel Thompson: 44:51
Now back to my interview with Annette C. Boehm, who spoke to me and even read her poem that we published in the issue aloud which is called “Credits: Dead Girl #3.” Before you hear our interview, I need to make a sound note because the audio during our conversation was far from fantastic. So you may have some difficulty hearing everything, and I really want you to be able to hear all of what Annette had to say. So know that I publish a transcript for every episode. There’s a real human who works on these, Diya Jaffery, so it’s usually up about a day after the episode comes out. If you’d like to read along and be sure of all the beautiful ideas Annette shared with me about her personal approach to writing, please do. The transcripts are attached to each episode, in this case it’s episode 81, so up at rachelthompson.co/podcast/81.
Here’s my conversation with Annette.
I want to welcome you to the Write, Publish, and Shine Podcast. Thank you so much for agreeing to speak to me about your work, Credits: Dead Girl #3 that appeared in Room 46.3 Ghosts. Credits: Dead Girl #3, to me; it felt like a commentary on how women are represented in media, and it was a definite yes, for our editorial team.
I’m wondering, why you submitted it to Room’s Ghost Issue?
Annette C. Boehm: 46:15
I felt that it was a really good match, because the woman in the poem, the Dead Girl #3, she is alive and dead at the same time. She is being looked at and she is being seen, but she is not seen. She is just sort of a body that happens and that pushes the plot further. She herself is not really important, which is kind of an experience that relates to us. It is often conditioned to see ourselves through outside eyes, and to look at ourselves from the outside. That is what this woman is also doing; she is seeing herself as dead even though she is not dead.
Rachel Thompson: 46:58
I am going to skip ahead to one of my questions because I think you have already started touching on this. I felt really drawn to the poem, because there is something familiar in that experience of being seen and unseen, at the same time. Being important, yet unimportant, visible, invisible. Can you tell me and our listeners who are also obviously emerging writers too?
Can you tell me about how you wrote the poem and tell me more about how those themes were resonating with you as you wrote it?
Annette C. Boehm: 47:29
I just have been watching some sort of crime show. There were obviously bodies involved, and I figured, okay, how do we feel in these shows, fictional or not, we do not really get anything about this person, except X was murdered, or this and this happened. Basically reducing the person to a body, or to an incident when really a person is a person. It seems to happen a lot more often with women or maybe I am just noticing it more. I can definitely relate to this sense that somehow we are objects and not subjects. We are in service of something or somebody else. We appear and we are seen in service of something or somebody else. We are not really important of our own accord or just based on who or what we are. It is just an experience that I have made, and that I thought was really well captured in the idea of just being an extra. A body without a name, without a story. A prose poem would work really well because it is sort of like a voiceover, the end credits of the show. Where you see all these names showing up, you have no idea who and why.
Rachel Thompson: 48:48
Would you like to read the poem for us now?
Annette C. Boehm: 48:51
Annette C. Boehm: 48:52
Credits: Dead Girl #3
“You have seen me dead at least once. I lie perfectly still. My head and limbs at some unnatural angle, blood soaked shirt, maroon Rorschach on the floor. More often I note it’s the kitchen so it’s tiles cleans up easily. Living Room, bedroom more of a mess. If I am lucky, I have died in an office clutching scraps of a document that will shed light. Mostly though it doesn’t matter how or why. I am just part of the scenery, a bigger picture. I see myself dead so many times. I hold my breath when I lay down at night. I’m good at being dead. I lie perfectly. Each morning, surprised at all this blood still in me, my empty hands.”
Rachel Thompson: 49:42
Thank you for that.
What are some of the other themes that you feel drawn to write about in your work? Can you tell us about what you are currently writing?
Annette C. Boehm: 49:51
I am generally interested in is basically is, what it is to be human. I think that very early on, I decided for myself that literature, stories, and poems is a way to explore what it means to be human and to experience the human. I do not know if that’s because I already realized that I was somehow on the outside. I think when I decided I wanted to study literature, then later decided I wanted to write. It was because I wanted to understand what was going on, and why people do the things they do. I am really interested in that. I just finished a book length manuscript poem on experiences with mental health and mental illness, which is the most personal thing be the third book, when or if it does come out, it is the most personal thing I have so far. Because it is such a sort of a taboo topic.
People are aware that there is mental health, and mental illness, but there is such a stigma to it still, over here, over there. I am guessing it is kind of similar to the attitudes in America. I am not sure. I have not been there in such a long time. But I wanted to give a first-hand experience to count.
First of all, to help some people feel seen, because when I look at poetry. Usually when it is about depression, or something like that, it is sad. It does not help me, it makes me feel worse. That is not what I want. I would like people to feel seen, but also for them to feel hopeful. I have been dealing with mental health problems for 30 years. For the most time, I did not really know what it was. I would not ever have talked about it to anybody, because I thought, this is so shameful, this is something nobody else happens to have the same problems. I am just not tough enough and just not good enough.
I have learned a lot over the last few years, and I wanted to write a book with these experiences. This is what it feels like for people who feel the same thing, and really feel like they’re alone with it. For people who have no idea, because there are enough people, I think, who have no idea what it feels like to have a serious depression or to have an urge to harm yourself or to have problems with emotions, recognizing, or understanding what other people are doing around you. That is a big topic, and that is super personal. At the same time, I think it is true. We all have to deal with this, whether we realize it or not. If it is not you, it is your cousin, or your neighbor, or your colleague, or your doctor’s friend or whoever.
That is something I have been interested in, and then started a new textual project, where I am building poems out of an already existing text, kind of a pet thing and doing collages. I don’t know where it’s going to go.
Rachel Thompson: 53:04
I love that with the first project, you mentioned, the one that’s really vulnerable. How do you prepare yourself for that kind of publication and being seen in that way too, going, okay, I am going to peel back this layer on this taboo topic?
Annette C. Boehm: 53:18
I think it helps that I am not really on the job market, and I don’t think I will be anytime soon simply because I am currently not able to work because I am compromised, elsewhere. If I were looking for work, I would probably not be willing to put myself out there and make myself obviously vulnerable. Because so much depends on people believing you can do more than full-time, work extra hours and do all sorts of volunteering and all sorts of things. There’s such an ableist attitude towards work that really your work defines you when really it shouldn’t. For some people, it can’t. I am not afraid of missing out on job opportunities, because I don’t have any, right now.
At the same time, I have been thinking about writing about this for a long time, but it has taken a while to figure out how to do it, how I want to do it and how much of myself I’m comfortable putting out there. Like some hints of it are definitely in my first and second book, but they’re not as obvious as the certain scripts that I have. So, I think I have just grown more comfortable with myself, as I have learned to understand things better. I just wanted to pass that along.
What has also helped definitely is that I have received commonly gotten some diagnosis that makes sense. Whereas over the last years, I never really knew what exactly was happening and now that I’m able to make more sense of things. I feel more comfortable saying, hey, this is me. This is what’s happening and this is what that feels like.
Rachel Thompson: 55:03
I love that motivation of shining a light both for people who maybe don’t understand, but in particular for people who’ve had similar experiences or feeling the things that you’re describing in the book, I think would be really helpful for readers. I’m glad that you’re doing that glad that you’re able to do it and not worry about employment.
I guess I’m also wondering, do you have any kind of practices to care for yourself, as you put work out in the world? Like, it seems to me, just from my own experience, that kind of vulnerability in your writing requires a level of like a self-connection and self-knowledge.
Annette C. Boehm: 55:42
I choose carefully where I send work. This very personal poem, obviously, don’t sit anywhere, like you got to pick where you want it to end up. That, obviously, is a way of taking care of myself. I shared these poems and the collection as a whole with two poet friends, to see what they thought and see, if they thought that shit, then maybe I should change the order of things, or maybe something sticks out and doesn’t really fit because it’s belong somewhere else. That sort of feedback was really helpful, because I know these people and I trust these people. I value their opinion. Whereas, when I’m sending things out, I don’t know who’s going to read that. Like, if I send to a mag, it’s not just with the editor, they usually have a set of readers. They’re not a very tiny magazine. So, it could be anybody who reads this, so I don’t really know. They say, no, I don’t really know why.
That’s something that I tried to keep in mind, in general, when I send work out and get rejections, which we always will, if you send something out, there’s a good chance of getting rejection. But if you don’t send anything out, there’s a 100% chance of never getting an acceptance. So, the work one should accept to get the other. Obviously, it’s a little sadder when it’s something that you’re really personally invested in, but then I’m invested in all of my poem.
Rachel Thompson: 57:11
You mentioned being selective about where you send work. I’m just wondering how you came about to submit this poem to Room? If there’s anything you want to share about that selection, and then the experience of publishing with us?
Annette C. Boehm: 57:26
I was looking through my email to figure out exactly where I first heard about Room. I suspect it was probably through Erica Dreyfus, practicing writer, newsletter that she sends out every month. Where she lists opportunities for all sorts of submissions. So, fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and I find that very helpful. There’s another that I subscribe to, which is by Emily Stoddard, don’t remember, I know what she calls it. But it’s also a free resource that you can use, where she lists like deadlines and things. That’s a good way, for me, at least, to keep an eye on deadlines. I’m seeing because they updated once a month. I am so grateful for people like them who take the time to go through all this information, because there’s a lot of information out there, figure out, okay, what’s happening when and where and put it in a handy dandy list. Because I easily get overwhelmed and flooded. I started looking just randomly, which I did. The first couple of years I was sending out work. But if you have somebody who makes a list, it makes it easier. It’s like, we don’t all have to do the same work. Those are really helpful, I think.
When I was still on Twitter, which I’m not using anymore, sometimes you could just see people posting calls for submissions, or you could send out a thing saying, hey, anybody open, and then sometimes people would respond on [unclear 58:58] the few people there. So that’s happening, but that’s something you could do.
Whenever I see something I like or see a journal, I like I page, and I add those to my own little federal documents. Then I make a just a note of the date that they’re open, and if they are paid or not. I don’t tend to place those usually that charge for submissions. Because there’s a lot I can’t afford it. Because like $3 doesn’t sound like much, but for me, that’s the lunch.
Then there are places that charge for submissions but don’t pay their writers. I’m like, well, that’s some, for me, that doesn’t quite work. If you’re doing it as a hobby and you can afford it by all means, send everywhere you want and pay for submission. But if you can’t afford it, then don’t. There are enough places that don’t charge, or that have open submission periods for people who cannot afford it. I am grateful for that because 10 times a month, or something, that’s a lot of money.
Rachel Thompson: 1:00:05
I really appreciate what you say about that. I have the same question about a place that charges but doesn’t pay the writers. It seems to me, there’s something missing in that equation there, and that even just as a business model, it doesn’t seem to make sense to me.
Annette C. Boehm: 1:00:19
What I think is even more of a poem… I mean, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Like, contests, usually enter work into contests, unless it’s a manuscript contest pricing in my work, but if it’s like a single poem contest or something. If you do the math, it sounds like a business model and not like a contest. Some places charge a lot of submission fees for sending one or three poems or one story, and then somebody gets a couple of $100 or whatever. But in the end, where that other money go? I don’t know, I don’t really understand it. I just cannot afford to shell out 30 bucks.
Rachel Thompson: 1:00:59
I like the contests that have different levels of access too so there’s sort of sometimes different payment levels. On the other hand, I do understand because that is how a lot of lit mags make their money. I don’t know there’s something like, you can win a prize, and then they have to pay a contest judge. So, I have a little bit of a [sysco 1:01:18] defense wrapped contest. But I totally agree with you on the paying to submit and not paying your writers, just the regular day to day of it.
Annette C. Boehm: 1:01:28
I’m totally fine with like battle. I like that where you actually get a subscription. So, you keep the journal running and to enter. That’s totally fine. But if it’s really just for sending in a poem. Yeah, I don’t know, I can’t afford it. If you can afford it, I’m very happy for you. But for a lot of people, it’s just not something we can do. So, we don’t win prizes so it’s just what it is.
Rachel Thompson: 1:01:56
Thank you so much for sharing a bit about your submission practice. I think you’ve answered all my follow up questions I had about choosing places to submit to, and a little bit about handling feedback, because you have your core group of people whose feedback really matters to you because they know you’re writing.
Do you have anything else that you use when you do get feedback from journals that is sort of like part of your practice for how to handle feedback, good or bad?
Annette C. Boehm: 1:02:25
Whenever I get a personal rejection. We get a lot of formal rejections through Submittable and stuff like that. I understand people don’t have all the time. I read or have read for literary journals as well as a poetry reader so I know how many submissions you got to go through. But if you wanted to add a personal note to every single one of them, we will be taking forever. It is all volunteer work so that is not going to happen.
Whenever you do get a personal rejection. I suggest taking note of it because that usually means somebody noticed and somebody felt strongly enough to take the extra time when they had a couple of 100 other people to send the rejection to.
Early on, when I was sending out work. There was an editor who kept sending me personal rejections. He said,
“It was really close. I really almost took this one. Just keep trying.”
I kept trying for a couple of years. He never took any of my poems. But it certainly was an encouragement to me to hear,
“I like what you are doing. I see hundreds of poems, 1000s of poems, and I like what you are doing. You are almost there.”
Sort of a No. It just feels so much nicer than No. I think it helps if you just put low notes. Whenever it says, rejection, okay, this person may be like that. Then you can sort of gauge what you want to send next time. Maybe they even say,
“Oh, I like this poem, particularly.”
Then whenever you have something that is kind of going in that direction, or has a similar feel to it, maybe try that, with this person, to see if it fits their next issue. So, that’s sort of a micro friendly rejection. I like it.
Rachel Thompson: 1:04:06
I think that is so good to hold on to those moments of feedback. You are right, it’s so rare. If you are getting anything then you are winning really, because it’s rare to even be able to be accepted to a place.
Annette C. Boehm: 1:04:20
I started sending out poetry in German there. I have been back in Germany for eight years now. I figured I might as well try. Even though I write in English primarily and then I translate it into German. The thing is, when you send to these German publications. A lot of them, virtually all of them say,
“We will not respond to your submission unless we want it.”
It is sort of send something into the void. Then you never hear anything back. I did hear back from one magazine where I thought, oh, wow this is great, but again, I did not know about all the others until basically like a year or longer. We have to figure, if they have not said anything by now. They probably don’t it. I think it is so much nicer to get a, no, thank you, then to not hear anything. I kind of prefer that. I don’t know. It might be just a personal thing. I took the time to push out the poems that I think are going to fit for your publication. I would appreciate you taking the time to say no thank you. But cultures and different attitudes.
Rachel Thompson: 1:05:30
Yeah. That’s interesting. I did not know that about German publications. It occurs to me that the biggest challenge would be, what if you really want to publish in that place and you do not want to send your work out until you know that they really said no? How long does that take exactly? It’s hard to say.
Annette C. Boehm: 1:05:47
Yeah. You do not want to send them 15 submissions. They will be sitting on 15 of them and not reading them until like a year later. They think, oh, [sysco 1:05:57] why did you do it, its okay. If they really do not like your style. It is not good to know, but just the way it is. And maybe that’s just 10, 12 magazines that I sorted through and that I tried. I kind of gave up after that because I am really discouraged that way. At least in German. In English, not so much. I can send my stuff out because I keep getting positive, because I am just hard headed.
Rachel Thompson: 1:06:25
It feels like it would be pretty discouraging for anyone to just get no response at all. Thanks for sharing that with our listeners, too. Those who are submitting in English can think well, at least I am getting a response. Even if it is a no. At least it’s something.
Annette C. Boehm: 1:06:40
I think most people are really good at this.
Rachel Thompson: 1:06:43
I wanted to ask you to do our Quick Lit round. If you are okay with completing the sentences. You can answer brief form, long form, your call, people do both. The first sentence to complete is,
Being a writer is…
Annette C. Boehm: 1:06:57
Being a writer is being interested in everything. I have TPDS deep dives on vegetarian spiders for the sake of a poem like you have to sort of work that will give you plenty to write about.
Rachel Thompson: 1:07:14
Literary magazines are…
Annette C. Boehm: 1:07:15
A great source for companionship. You can find voices there that you would not normally come across. Ideally, literary magazines will have diversity in their work that they publish. You will get to see a variety of styles and a variety of topics. Depending on where you are, if you are not, right now, in graduate program or something. Studying, writing and studying your genre. You are not going to be likely to have that much exposure, unless you actually look for literary magazine.
Rachel Thompson: 1:07:53
Annette C. Boehm: 1:07:55
Distance, and [sysco 1:07:57] should not really. You got to have a little distance to your text before you can really look at and say, well, this part really does not belong at the top. This needs to be chopped, this needs to be extended. It is sort of like you are taking it apart and putting it back together. They cannot be too emotional about it at that point. Emotion is good for getting it started. Editing is, going to take a step back and see okay, from the personal, how do I get to something that is more universal?
Rachel Thompson: 1:08:30
You are reminding me of that. It just made me the first and only time I will quote Hemingway on this podcast, but it gets like,
“Draft drunk, revise sober.”
Is that right? I am trying to remember. But…
Annette C. Boehm: 1:08:42
That might be. Yeah, I do not have alcohol anymore. But yeah.
Rachel Thompson: 1:08:47
But the idea of being really like wild in your words at the beginning. Yeah. Then revision.
Annette C. Boehm: 1:08:53
Rachel Thompson: 1:08:55
Rejection for a writer means…
Annette C. Boehm: 1:08:57
Rejections always a disappointment. It keeps happening, but at the same time, it’s necessary. I mean, if you don’t send anything out, you can’t have anything accepted. Like I said, there are standard rejections or personal rejection, or rejections that take forever because this passed around the spoon and among the editorial team, like it doesn’t fit in in this issue or not. So, rejection is always the same thing. or anything. It helps you remember that just because I got rejected by one or seven or 12, it doesn’t mean it’s not a good poem or a good story. It just means it didn’t fit there at some point. So, maybe there’s something you want to change, but maybe it’s just not the right time yet.
Rachel Thompson: 1:09:50
Then finally, writing community is…
Annette C. Boehm: 1:09:53
Vital. I miss it a lot like I had learning community for real for the first time when I went into grad school for creative writing, in 2011, and having regular workshops, having peers, and kind of looking at what they’re doing, seeing their style, and what works and what doesn’t work, and hearing what they think works in your own stuff. They’re interesting. I mean, that really helps you even if kids don’t like what they’re doing, or how they’re writing, you’re exposed to it, and you have to spend time with it, and you think about it. Then you might learn something that can help you. Or you might be able to help them figure out ways of talking about something that didn’t know how to talk about. It’s like a constant cross pollination, ideally, and it doesn’t always work. But it really can. It’s what I enjoyed about in grad school and about a couple of conferences that I managed to get to, because we are people, I mean, writing in itself is very singular, it’s something you do on your own in your head, in a notebook on your computer, wherever and shifting it around. But in the end, you want to see what it does, we would put it up more. That’s a low pressure environment where you can put something out into the world and say, hey, [unclear 1:11:14]
Rachel Thompson: 1:11:16
I love that idea of cross pollination. Thank you for sharing that with us and sharing all of your stories and ideas about submitting and your practice and for reading your poem, Annette. I appreciate you taking the time and joining us on the podcast.
Annette C. Boehm: 1:11:33
Thank you for having me.
Rachel Thompson: 1:11:35
So, that was Annette C. Boehn, reading “Credits: Dead Girl #3” and discussing how she wrote the poem and the experiences and reflections on the way that she interacts with the world, which I really valued and saw something in clearly, and my assistant editor, and we picked that piece because it felt very vital to the conversation. All of the wonderful resources she mentions are up in our show notes at rachelthompson.co/podcast/81.
Thanks for tuning in to a second episode on Room magazine, Ghosts, issue 46.3. The issue is on actual newsstands and online for order in print and digital at roommagazine.com.
Coming up, you’re going to hear from our commissioned writer, Aviaq Johnston that will be our next episode and our Publisher Nara Monteiro, our Book Reviews Editor, Micah Killjoy, and more of the folks involved in the labour of love that is producing just one single issue of one single literary magazine. (Is your mind blown yet, thinking about all the wonderful people who put so much of themselves into a single issue of a lit mag?)
So stay tuned for our next haunting episode, in this spooky month when I’m talking all about our spooky issue, Ghosts.
Do you crave support and structure so you can write your most luminous work?
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You can learn more and register at rachelthompson.co/intensive.
Rachel Thompson: 1:13:15
The Write, Publish, and Shine Podcast is brought to you by me, Rachel Thompson. You can learn more about the work I do to help writers, write, publish, and shine at rachelthompson.co. When you’re there, why not sign up for my Writerly Love Letters. I send them out just about every week, and they’re filled with support for your writing practice.
If this episode encouraged you to haunt some lit mags I would love to hear all about it. You can always email me at email@example.com.
I would love if you could tell other luminous writers about this episode. You can do this a couple of ways. One is by sending them to the podcast at rachelthompson.co/podcast or telling them to search for Write, Publish, and Shine wherever they get their podcasts. Then another one would be to rate and review the podcast on Apple podcasts in particular. I have some lovely reviews up there but they’re from years ago and I would love to get an updated one. I’ll just give you a shout out on an upcoming episode where you to do that review. So, I would be very grateful and I would give you a shout out.
Thank you for listening—I encourage you to dig into the scary, deeply personal, perhaps haunting, spooky, writing you want to share to connect with readers.
Annette C. Boehm spoke to me from Bochum Germany and let me know, of course that Bochum is the 16th largest city in Germany and dates back to circa 900 AD.
Reyzl Grace spoke to me from Minneapolis, Minnesota, the traditional territory of the Dakota People.
I mention our locations and territories in order to reveal histories of the lands we occupy. But also more importantly because I am a Settler Canadian I was raised in what is colloquially known as Canada and I support land back movements. I currently am a guest in the South Sinai, Egypt, so far away from Canada this time, on lands historically and presently occupied by the el Muzzina Bedouin.