The fourth 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, where I was lead editor of the issue. In this issue, to my delight I sit down with Room’s publisher, Nara Monteiro. We delve into the role of publisher and what they do day-to-day at the magazine and get into some Ghosts-issue specifics and a slightly unusual story of reaching out to one potential contributor to the issue, so listen for that story.
You can pick up your copy of Room 46.3, Ghosts (digital or print) at roommagazine.com.
WRITERLY LOVE LETTERS: Sent each week to your inbox. rachelthompson.co/letters
- Room’s Event on October 27 (in-person and remote)
- Nara Monteiro on Instagram
- Room 46.3 Ghosts
- Room 36.1, Mythologies of Loss
- Nara Monteiro mentioned the writer N.K. Jemisin, whose writing group collectively celebrates when they reach 100 rejections.
- Nara Monteiro mentioned Sydney Hegele’s newsletter, Marsh Mail, and how they debunked the myth that writers get fewer rejections as established (rather than emerging) writers.
- Become a RoomMate and get cool bonuses (plus help shape the program) on Patreon.
- Sign up for my Writerly Love Letters filled with support for your writing practice and sent every week.
#83 Write, Publish, Shine Episode Transcript
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|01:47||Rachel’s introducing the guest “Nara Monteiro”|
|02:48||Rachel’s interview with Nara Monteiro.|
|03:10||A role of a Publisher at Room Magazine.|
|10:06||Supporting contributors and avoiding ghosting in a virtual work environment.|
|10:59||Nara shares a story about a contributor who ghosted the magazine.|
|18:25||What’s Nara currently exploring in her writing?|
|22:43||Rachel’s first issue with Room.|
|26:41||Midroll Ad here|
|27:55||The Roommate Program and Patreon Program|
|34:31||About the Live Event: Let Us Haunt You|
|38:05||Quick Lit Round by Rachel Thompson|
|48:18||Interview Outro & Discussion|
- Nara Monteiro
- Rachel Thompson:
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 fourth in my series of special episodes of Write, Publish, and Shine as I take you behind the scenes into the creation of Room magazine issue 46.3, where I was lead editor of the issue. This is the fourth, as I said, of my series, and I’m suspecting it’s going to be about four more. So, we’re at the halfway point. I think by now, you’ve heard me say enough times,
“Think about how many people it takes to create one issue of one literary magazine.”
I hope it’s maybe helping you see other literary magazines in addition to Room in a new light, just understanding all of the people that are involved, all the hands that touch an issue.
In this episode to my delight, I spoke with Room’s publisher, Nara Monteiro, and we delve into the role of publisher like, what is that role anyway? What does publisher really mean? It’s might be one of the least well known roles when it comes to writers who are just submitting to Lit Mag’s, I know, there were years where I didn’t really understand what that role was, myself. We talk about what they do day-to-day at the magazine and get into some Ghosts-issue specifics with a slightly unusual story that happened to the two of us, reaching out to one potential contributor to the issue, so listen in for that story.
I’m going to read Nara’s bio now just to get a better sense of them. Nara Monteiro is a Brazilian-Canadian writer, editor, and nerd who crunches numbers, sends snail mail, and hosts events as Room Magazine’s Publisher.
I’ll just pause the bio read even, just to say, we’re hosting an event. So, if you’re listening to this live this week, right when the episode drops; on Friday Room is hosting a launch event for the Ghosts issue. It’s a Halloween party. It’s an Open Mic. It’s called Let Us Haunt You and I will drop the link for that in the show notes for this episode at rachelthompson.co/83.
So, it’s rachelthompson.co/83, if you want to get details on that event and come in. It’s both online and in person.
After hours, I’ll continue the bio read for Nara Monteiro. You can find them working on a Master of Publishing, we’ll talk about that, from Simon Fraser University. Tweeting for Strange Horizons, and reading for Augur Magazine.
They also say in their bio, which I love, after-after hours, they spend their time devouring books and running off to the mountains.
Here is my conversation with Nara Monteiro. I’m going to start by welcoming you to the podcast Nara Monteiro, thank you so much for being here.
Nara Monteiro: 03:08
Thanks for having me.
Rachel Thompson: 03:10
I want to just jump into your role as Publisher of Room magazine, which was for a long time for me really a mysterious role. In fact, I think there was a time when we were restructuring and we wanted to make a role that was basically publisher, but I didn’t even note the term and someone said, well, yeah, you’re talking about a publisher, you just bought publisher for the magazine. It’s like, okay, what’s that.
You described your role as a nerd who crunches numbers, sends snail mail and hosts events. I know you’re also taking a Masters of publishing.
Can you tell listeners about this role, and just what you do at Room, which seems like an awful lot and encompasses a wide range of things?
Nara Monteiro: 03:51
Yeah, for sure. The thing about the publisher role is that it really means something different depending on the scale. In the case of Room‘s, specifically, I very literally crunch numbers, send snail mails and host events like I do our finances with the help of an accountant once a year, but I process every transaction that goes through. I do updates to our shop and our pricing. I send. If you receive a package from Room in the mail, if it’s not a new issue fresh from the distributor, if it’s anything else, I probably packed it, wrote down your address and sent it to you via Canada Post. I talk to the folks who order from libraries, people like EBSCO it’s a very large company through which libraries can order subscriptions. They send me all of that, I process it, I maintain our database. It’s kind of a glamorous name almost for not glamorous at all job. But I actually find it very satisfying and someone needs to keep the wheels turning.
There are also more exciting things like I uploaded all of our PDFs to our site recently to bring Room digital to the average reader. We do have digital available through Press Reader and Flipster. But they’re more geared towards institutions, and I think a lot of people don’t kind of want to download a whole app. So, we now have PDFs on the website. That’s because I spent three weeks this summer, just kind of listening to podcasts and audiobooks like pressing buttons on my keyboard. So, that’s a lot of what I do.
Also, there is big picture thinking. I’m the person who writes our grants in the Canadian publishing landscape, a lot of independent publishing is supported by grants, which is really great, it means that there’s kind of independent space for very innovative art to live and thrive. But there is a bit of a difficult legacy there, because a lot of these programs, including the Canada Council, for the arts were started from, I’m going to say, assess to informal, a little bit of a desire to, like have this very nationalist program. A desire from a place of like, not necessarily the best intentions to have a very kind of nationalist program to create a Canadian identity. But that Canadian identity, as you can imagine, in like the 60s created by the Canadian government, was not necessarily the Canadian identity that anybody that Room is particularly interested in holding.
But it still does support a lot of independent publishing in Canada. So, I write our grants and the experience of writing the first major grant that I did in September of last year, which was ABC Arts Council Grant. It was really insightful for me, because it forces you to take a really big step back and take stock of everything the organization is doing, what its impact is, how all of those pieces fit together, how they speak to our mission and our values. So, I think the publisher role also does a little bit of kind of larger scale planning for the organization, because this position really puts you in a place to see all of the pieces moving, and to have an idea of the best way that they’re working.
On the one hand, hearing writers talk to me about how they had their first poem published at Room, and it was a poem that somebody told them was inappropriate in a creative writing class, because it talked about some pretty vulnerable topics. Hearing people talk about getting to speak to a Room of people who look like them, or who have shared experiences around the table launch, those things really feed me. But then I also look at the number of contributors that we publish every year, which I had to tally up for that Arts Council Grant. I think how many stories have I not heard like that, and it really does help on the day-to-day when I’m looking at these margins, when an issue maybe doesn’t sell as well, because everybody is struggling right now in this economy.
But when things aren’t going as well, or when there’s less attendance at an event that we wanted, or just when the cost goes up for something, because we need to pay people equitably and that’s expensive now, when I’m trying to make these margins work, I’m trying to get everything to even out by the end of the year, which is a struggle. I think about the people that we are getting to publish and interact with, and the work we’re able to put in conversation in these issues. It feels really good. I think it’s important that I get to do both of those things, because one doesn’t really work without the other. That’s how I think you end up with people on the financial side, wanting to make really aggressive decisions in response to financial difficulties.
Then on the other hand, you get someone on just the creative side. It’s getting very easy to kind of forget that the money is [sysco 8:46] real. I try my best to work with the managing editor on kind of bringing those fears together. She’s really wonderful. But that’s kind of what I do.
Rachel Thompson: 08:57
I think you really took us through, like the perspective that you’re taking, as you’re making those decisions about the margins, meaning the profit margins, I’m kind of extrapolating there. Then the other thing, that’s kind of neat, because of Rooms model, you are also actively editing issues so you do have your hat in both rings to mix my metaphors really wildly up, you do have that perspective of the creative side. I just love what you said about those stories sustaining us when it’s not, even though of course, we have to continue, which can be losing money as an organization, that’s not going to work for us. But then when things are tight, it’s like, actually, there are all these stories that can sustain us in some ways, too.
I was telling you before we started recording, the talking too, and by the time people are listening to this, they’ll have heard from four of our contributors and it’s so meaningful to them, the experience of having published with us and I mean, I think it’s such a beautiful project. I’m grateful for the work that you do with those margins to support it.
Nara Monteiro: 10:05
Rachel Thompson: 10:06
I wanted to talk a bit about your support concretely, because we have a little bit of a story about the 46.3 Ghosts where you were helping us behind the scenes. I refer to as spectres. The ghost metaphor worked really well throughout the production of this issue, because it’s like, here we are kind of haunting each other on Slack, popping in popping out like ghosts. You also really went above and beyond one time, when you did do that thing of sending a physical letter writing someone’s address on it.
Can you help me tell that story to our listeners? I guess maybe I’ll start by saying, we had someone ghost us, we accepted their work and we weren’t able to reach them.
Nara Monteiro: 10:44
It really speaks that how resonant the theme is that you were able to find so many metaphors across its production, because they seem like silly puns at first. But really, truly like it speaks to our experience in 2023 in this virtual world.
Yeah, we had our contributor ghost us, and I’m the one who has everyone’s addresses. (Not to be creepy, I know where you live. I know where everyone live.) Yeah, so I wrote out a note because this message kept coming back at their inbox, their Gmail inbox, I think it was, was full. I’ve had that happen to a friend. It’s a nightmare when that happens, because no one can contact you if you use your email frequently. I just had this thought of like this contributor who was trying to deal with logistical nightmare in their life, they’re not getting emails, but also had no idea that we wanted to publish them. So, I just really wanted to make sure that we went the kind of final step, I have this person’s address because they were a contest submitter from a previous year, there’s unrelated to their time at ghost. So, we just decided to send a note, I wrote it out, I put it in an envelope, I send it out.
I was very disappointed that we didn’t hear back. But I’m glad we put the effort in, because I still have that image of like somebody who’s just sort of overwhelmed by the fact that they can’t receive any emails, and to lose out on an opportunity to be part of this, will be so sad.
Rachel Thompson: 12:02
Actually, sadly, we did hear back, but too late. So, we were not able to publish that writer. It was great that you had reached out to the writer, but unfortunately, in the end, they ghosted us a bit too long. So, we had to replace their work. But I hope that at least then they figured out,
“Oh, my Gmail inbox is full. It was an address that I hadn’t been using for a while as part of it.”
So, they’re able to fix up their Submittable, so that mistake doesn’t happen again. As this podcast is really for a lot of emerging writers, this is a really good lesson to learn from somebody else. It’s about making sure you have the most current email address on your Submittable, because I think it was over a month, we were trying to contact this writer. But decisions can happen pretty quickly, and you might miss some important emails.
Nara Monteiro: 12:48
We’re pretty flexible at Room about a lot of things because we recognize that we’re all humans, we have lives and bodies that we need to listen to. But there are some hard deadlines that we can’t move, like, the date that we submit the issue to the printer, things like that. So, yeah, having your most recent email is pretty crucial, if you’re submitting.
Rachel Thompson: 13:09
I think I am all about the cheesy puns. I really appreciate that you seem to think that they are somehow elevated throughout, because I definitely loved, I enjoyed the pun throughout the production of ghosts.
Nara Monteiro: 13:21
Each cheesy pun brings me joy. Then when you put them all together, it’s like no, yeah, there are a lot of ways to compare our current work place existence to these kinds of, as you said, spectral and ghostly interactions, I don’t want to necessarily say that and denigrate the experiences that we have working together. Virtually, I don’t think that’s the case. But it is different, it is a different way of interacting with people, a different way of collaborating. I think it does kind of put me more in the space that I am in when I write, because writing is something that a lot of people do on their own time, and then you kind of emerge from writing and connect to other people. Then you go back to writing and to the creative process. That’s what my work looks like, and my work is nothing like writing but it’s also helped me create systems that helped me maintain my writing.
Because now, the systems that I create to get me up and to work and as somebody who, you know I lived with undiagnosed ADHD for 25 years. That takes up a lot of my time. It’s like making sure that everything in my life is in place and the systems are all in place so that I do get to work in the morning and I am able to actually concentrate and use my time in an effective way that doesn’t cause me psychological damage. So, I spent a lot of time on that.
Being able to do that and create the system at work that actually also translates really well to my writing, is really new. I do think it is about the ghostly kind of different amounts of time that we spend talking to other people, and it’s good for some things and difficult for other things when we’re collaborating a lot. I always want to be in a Room with people. But I do also think it lets us respect each other’s time really well and lets us work across the planet really well, which is lovely.
Rachel Thompson: 15:14
It’s amazing the things we can do. Then it’s also disheartening sometimes, the things that we’re missing because of not being in the same place. I really value what you said about write, because it feels like well, in writing, we’re kind of haunting people to our words in the future and they resonate and someone else is going to read it in a different time and place. Theoretically, I guess, when we’re dead as well, people will be able to read our words, and we’ll be haunting them as a ghost.
Nara Monteiro: 15:41
Yeah, I’m so interested in that. Not temporality, the opposite. The kind of Atemporal nature of publishing where we put something out, and publishing has this obsession with everything that’s been put out in the previous year. One of the things I’ve tried to do with Room is, put a little bit of life into our work we’ve published over the past 48 years, because there’s so much wonderful work. There are contributors in Room issues, who have passed away, and their work is still in our issues, and I want people to still be able to read them. Because there’s stuff from the 70s and 80s that we published that is very much a product of a lack of diversity in the collective, a lack of knowledge, and drive to learn anything about people who are further marginalized in addition to other gender, and in addition to just being sis women, but there also is a lot of work that still resonates with the experiences that we have today. I want to keep that history alive, and I’ve been thinking about that as well through ghosts is; Ghosts is issue 46.3, so that means it’s like somewhere around 180 or so. I can pull up an actual.
Rachel Thompson: 17:00
You’re already crunching some numbers right now live for us.
Nara Monteiro: 17:03
Yeah, it’s around issue 180. Give or take, because there are some years we only published three. But that’s a lot of history, and there are ghosts behind the issue ghosts that sort of allowed it to happen and brought it to the place that it is, which I think is delightful.
Yeah. I mean, I was thinking of that in terms of just the hidden people who put the issue together. One of the things I’m trying to even just get across in this series of podcast episodes is like, we’re not even going to speak to, I think at one point, I said, maybe a third, not even a third of the people who actually had a hand in making this issue. So, there’s a lot of invisible hands at work there. But then to even think of the legacy of Room all the writers that came before us, our forebears in terms of the inspiration, the motivation to keep writing as well. It’s like, there are a lot of ghosts in this Room. Yeah.
I think there are a lot of ghosts in any Room where you’re writing. I have this fear, particularly somebody who occasionally struggles with memory, that I will forget where I found something, I really care about citation and acknowledgement of influential works. Obviously, everything has influenced from something. But if I’m pulling very directly from someone’s idea, I want to recognize those ideas. I’m always afraid that I’m going to be unable to find something. But so far, the internet has been pretty helpful.
Rachel Thompson: 18:25
That leads me to ask about, what are you currently exploring in your writing? What are the ghosts that are haunting and influencing you right now?
Nara Monteiro: 18:33
My writing itself feels like a ghost sometimes, I think you mentioned I’m in the Master of Publishing, I basically studied all the things that I’m sort of doing here, I’m in a later phase where I do a project report, which is kind of like a tiny thesis. It’s the same structure ish, but it’s very short. So, a lot of my time is spent on that outside of work. Then I spent five years doing an English Literature degree. Then I worked at a bookstore for a year in the middle of COVID, where lock down had me to Press [sysco 19:05] Roommate. Then I spent another year and a half studying other people’s writing, and another year, publishing other people’s writing. It’s only really been this year that I’ve gotten back to my own writing practice that I originally sort of came into publishing because I knew I wanted to spend my life around stories and writing.
I’ve been really glad this year to be able to meet virtually with a friend of mine every Sunday morning, and we do some writing together. It’s the first time in years that I’ve written actually regularly, and I’m working on a variety of things. I actually am working on a ghost story, Rachel. I have this probably novella, I had this image of someone passing away and waking up and finding that everybody’s still around. My question was,
What would people do?
You can’t leave a mark. You can’t eat. You can’t drink. You can’t touch things. You can’t write. You can’t engage in any of the things that take up a lot of my time as somebody who lives in like an urban center 2023, and you can’t communicate across long distances.
What would people spend their time on?
They would spend their time probably telling stories and observing each other. So, I wanted to explore that idea. I also wanted to explore ideas of longing and loss. So, the main character, her wife, passed away two years prior, when they were on a trip. So, in this story, kind of drawing from many, many different mythologies that have this idea that ghosts can’t cross water, and she died on an island. So, the major premise is that this person is looking for her, also deceased wife’s ghost, after kind of grieving her for two years.
Yeah, I’m working on that very slowly, because I have a few too many other things going on right now. But I’m very interested in what drives us in the absence of other people asking things of us, and how we occupy, entertain and enrich ourselves, or dote, in the absence of all the things that are propping up our day-to-day existence nowadays. That’s what I’m exploring with that story, I think.
Rachel Thompson: 21:18
It’s almost like without the tension of all the demands of life, too. So in some ways, it seems like oh, that might be liberating, then to not be a consumer in this late capitalist society.
Nara Monteiro: 21:31
Rachel Thompson: 21:32
Different expectations on us. But I also love what you’re saying about the idea of longing being in it, because it seems to me that I think that’s what ghosts really are a metaphor for as longing, it’s sort of like something that we can’t see that we are kind of yearning for.
Nara Monteiro: 21:51
Also memory, it’s really strange to me, I do struggle with memory a lot. It’s a part of having ADHD. There’s a joke a lot of people make about, out of sight out of mind, and that includes people. What I find it does for me is that when I actually lose people, it is a less intense, but more protracted experience of I do have periods where I forget much earlier on, and most people I know, but also, because of that it takes a lot longer, a longer period of time to process. I find the same thing happens with all sorts of things that stick to us. Because when you haven’t properly processed, something that happened in a place, and then you go back to that place. It’s like a double vision almost, and it is like there’s a ghost there. So for me, ghosts are very much about memory.
Rachel Thompson: 22:43
My very first issue with Room was in volume 37, I think. Can’t remember. It’s something like that. 37, 38.
Nara Monteiro: 22:52
Which one was it?
Rachel Thompson: 22:54
It was called the Mythologies of Loss.
Nara Monteiro: 22:56
Yeah, I think you might be right.
Rachel Thompson: 22:59
You’ve now recently scanned all the issues. You’re remembering the volumes, that’s great, better than I. I usually have a copy certainly that I don’t have it right here.
That was like about loss and longing too, and I felt like ghosts was like the echo of that. But then we could play more with horror and have kind of, I don’t know, a little bit more fun with it, too. But I was fascinated by how, in so many ways, it was really profound, but also silly too. I guess it fulfilled what I had hoped, and what you’re saying, though, about memory, I think too, resonates with me when it comes to loss as well, and longing too.
Nara Monteiro: 23:37
I was thinking, also that Mythologies of Loss itself is one of the ghosts we discussed earlier, from a long history of Room, that sort of standing over the shoulders of a ghost issue.
Rachel Thompson: 23:50
That’s really astute, or, for me interesting that you say that because I think that was definitely for me, and my editorial journey through Room, it was like, oh, this is echoing that, like those two things. You know what I mean? Like nobody else was going to know that because you’d have to have read Room for the last decade really closely, and understand more than a decade, and understand. But just in my personal experience, it was a bit like pulling these things in. For me, I guess maybe even ghosts, like Mythologies of Loss was kind of even like, if you think about the early stages of grieving too like just that intensity of it. Then ghosts is maybe a little further along the path, I’m like okay. I’m in some kind of relationship still with this absence. It’s come back as a presence.
Nara Monteiro: 24:33
Yeah. It becomes integrated with your life. I think that’s the stage that ghosts is exploring.
Rachel Thompson: 24:40
Thank you. Just even this conversation has helped me understand more. What is it that we just did? Okay, good.
Nara Monteiro: 24:46
I’m so glad. Yeah. If folks are interested, you can read Mythologies of Loss. It’s on the Room site, and its issue 36.1
Rachel Thompson: 24:56
That was some time ago.
Nara Monteiro: 24:58
You have been with Room for so long. I really appreciate the knowledge and wisdom that you bring to what we do, and having watched us grow through so many different phases. It’s really great to have someone around who did watch so much of that happen, because I’m often just trying to piece it together from random documents on our web storage platforms.
Rachel Thompson: 25:23
That’s the nature of a collective, it’s like random documents. Nobody thought to write it down because they’re like, I’ll remember this.
Nara Monteiro: 25:30
Yeah, with broken links, and like dead ends, the internet is turning into a place of ghosts. Also, with link decaying, I think it’s cool, that could be wrong. But more and more links are broken, and it becomes patchy.
I feel like I am trying to piece Rooms past together from a bunch of dusty squirrels, try to find the ghosts of the people who made it what it is today, all the time, in my job, try to understand processes, as we’re looking at celebrating our 50th anniversary, we’re making a lot of plans. And I want to make sure that we’re being true to both how Room has evolved to be especially something in the past decade, we’ve sort of evolved away from white feminism.
I also want to acknowledge all the work that went into getting us to that point. So, Room‘s history is something I’m really interested in right now, as we prepare for that. But it does feel like piecing it together from scraps and little tidbits that you find here and there.
Rachel Thompson: 26:30
Then it chills me to think that it’s my memory that would be helpful in some situations, because I’m also, I’m not that great in just remembering things.
So, I’m going to hit pause just for a moment on that conversation with Nara Monteiro to let you know, in case you haven’t heard, that I send out Writerly Love Letters each week. They’re filled with motivation and ideas for you, dear writers.
Popular topics I have covered in the past were how to say no to things that get in the way of your writing, how to prepare for success or the fear of success, which I touched on a little bit in the last episode of this podcast, and then how to support your writing with self-connection and care. I’ll often share lists of things motivating my writing, from books to programs, to things in nature, whatever it is, that’s motivating my writing that week. I think writers often will respond and think about,
What’s motivating my writing this week?
Then writers tell me, they also appreciate getting my list of places where the writers in our community have recently published. It’s great for finding good reading. But it’s also great for finding out about places that you might want to add to your own list of submissions for places you want to send your work.
You can subscribe to my letters at rachelthompson.co/letters.
I would love to ask you about one project that you have spearheaded in your publisher role, which is the RoomMate program. So, you created and you support the RoomMate program, which is our ongoing Patreon program, and speaking of those margins, it’s like about helping us stay alive now for almost 50 years and continue beyond that, which I think is so vital, like you’re saying about how we’ve evolved, as well as the collective and rather than dying and becoming a ghost, I guess, and haunting us in a different way. We live on, but in different forms and are responding more to the times and being more inclusive and keeping our vision of bringing more people to the literary world.
Can you tell us a bit about the Patreon program and just how it’s going? What’s the best part about it?
Nara Monteiro: 28:44
RoomMates was originally established by my predecessor, Molly Cross-Blanchard, who is a great poet, by the way. Molly put it together, and then it had a bit of a surge when we first started it. But the publisher does a lot, and I think it was just something that Room didn’t really know what to do with for a long time. Honestly, I still don’t always know what to do with it, because I want it to be valuable to people. But we do have two different kinds of people who come on, we have people who want to support Room and mostly just read it. Then we have people who want to connect to a community of writers.
So, we’re really trying to work on getting that off the ground. We are planning a discord. It’s a online communication platform, kind of like a Slack or kind of like a Facebook group where people can connect with each other and that’s the place where we would be most in contact with our RoomMates. For now, the RoomMate program is, to me, I want it to be the place for our most involved readers and writers.
So, if you’re that person who gets excited when your issue of Room comes in and immediately wants to be reading it well or just like, who wants to stay connected to our calls for submissions and our contests and are really interested in the work that we do. That’s the space I want to curate for people like that.
Right now, it’s a place where you can get insight into the back end. So, we send out the themes and the covers a lot earlier for our RoomMates, we provide writing prompts, our marketing coordinator has recently been working on resource lists. She makes these big ones quarterly for our social media, but we’re doing them a little more often for the Patreon subscribers. Things like these are the workshops that we found available for the next little while, these are the granting programs available for the next little while. We are going to do a Grant workshop in the new year for our Room, Roomies the people who edit Room that will also be available for the Patreon subscribers, the RoomMates, it get a little confusing.
Yeah, it’s still in construction. So, if it’s something that sounds interesting to you, now is actually a great time to join. Because your feedback means a lot to me exactly in this moment, because there is so much Room for change and potential, because we’re trying to meet the needs of our community right now. Also, meet our needs, because subscriber retention, not to get technical, is a bit of a difficult thing. People forget to re subscribe, they don’t read their emails about it, or they… I send out emails and people subscriptions expire, and there is a kind of sheet that comes in with their last issue, and I still get emails from people after their subscription expires. Being like,
“I didn’t get my issue, where was it coming?”
And I have to be like,
“Okay, hey, wait, actually, here’s how you re subscribe.”
Because I think, people are busy. So, the Patreon is a great way to help folks who want to keep supporting us, just not have to think about that, and then also stay connected with other people who are reading the magazine. You have access to a group of people who are also receiving it quarterly, a lot of people who are submitting, and you get a free contest entry, or two, depending on the tier, things like that. It’s a bit of a work in progress, especially since we saw a huge explosion of support on the RoomMate program after our fundraiser, for which we’re super grateful that community really rallied to keep us going. That was one place where folks really rallied. But that also meant that our audience on the Patreon changed. It really used to be just people who largely wanted to see Room keep going.
I feel like- The impression I had is that they didn’t really want to be receiving emails from us all the time. But I do think that audience has changed in the past four or five months. So, that’s kind of been a- it’s a process of adapting, and to really meet people’s needs and actually provide something valuable. That’s something we always want to be doing at Room, is making sure that we’re not just filling the air with more noise, and as you said this, like capitalist consumer is. Where there already is so much noise and a lot of noise that’s really just designed for you to spend money and not really get anything from it; we always want to make sure that you’re actually getting something, and that we’re creating something that will help you instead of just be more noise in your life.
Yeah, if you listeners do have things to say, now is the time to get what you need from Room.
Rachel Thompson: 33:13
I’ll make sure to put a link in the show notes about the Patreon program too, as well, so they can head over there.
I love what you said about the interaction that people want to have, and discord sounds like a great option as well to like a place for people to communicate. That’s not Facebook. But I guess because Room does feel like such a community, and the more you speak to people, it’s really meaningful to them, the vision and the values of our publications. So, it’s just great to kind of create a place where they can connect and see value too. I mean, those lists sound super cool. I’m very excited about this one. I’m like,
Why am I not a RoomMate? I think I’m going to have to check that out. But thank you for telling me about it.
Nara Monteiro: 33:56
We should be sending these to RoomMates too. Now that I think about it, I’ll put them in the Slack.
Rachel Thompson: 33:59
Oh, great. We get the inside track, then. That’s great.
The other thing that I want to shout out because it’s happening really soon in as of this recording in a few weeks when this is out, probably in a couple of weeks, at most or even, I’m not sure when this will be out exactly. But it will be before the event but I’m not sure how far before it. So, we’re talking about doing this literary haunting event. That’s a launch for the issue. But it’s also an Open Mic to come tell your ghost stories and you will be hosting it in person.
Can you tell our listeners more about what to expect from the live event?
Nara Monteiro: 34:36
Yes, I am so looking forward to this. I think a lot of love and care was put into the ghost’s issue, and we really wanted to celebrate that in a way that works for the folks who were here and for the folks who are virtual. So, we are going to be gathering at New World Theater, they’re partners in putting on this event. We’re going to have an open mic where you can come and take five minutes to talk about your ghosts, interspersed with readings, virtual specters coming in, as you put it. From our issue, including…
Rachel Thompson: 35:11
I’ll interject here because I know all of the people who are reading and I’m not sure if you have the list in front of you. So let me say that it will be Aviaq Johnston, who is our commission writer for the issue.
Those of you who are listening to this podcast will remember that Aviaq Johnston was already featured in this series of behind the scenes of 46.3, talking about her story that we commissioned “Earring Repair Shop.” We’ll be reading from that story at the event. So, if you wanted to hear some of that, please join. As we’ve said, it’s both virtual and in person event.
Then the next person I’ll mention is Manahil Bandukwala, who was interviewed in a beautiful interview by Ellen-Chang Richardson, a great conversation about ghosts and many other things. We’ll also be reading at this event, it’s prepared a spectral reading for us.
Then Yvonne Bloomer is another poet who will be reading at the event. Yvonne is an award winning poet. So, we were delighted that she did a regular submission to our issue, and we accepted that work very quickly, once we saw it. I think actually, that was our first acceptance.
Then finally, another reader who did a regular submission with us and who we’re delighted to say yes to was [sysco 36:48] Bina England, who shared some great fiction, some really interesting spatially fiction as well, although the lines themselves are great, so it’ll be great to just hear it aloud as well at the event. Bina England is also someone who will be featured in an upcoming episode of the podcast as we go behind the scenes of 46.3.
Nara Monteiro: 36:48
Yes! This is the first time I remember us ever having both the feature interviewee and the commission writer as readers at the event. So that’s very exciting. I think this is going to be some absolutely wonderful readings. It’s a issue packed with meaningful works. We’ve talked several times throughout this episode about how the theme really resonates. So, I think people are going to bring some fantastic work. We’re also just going to have a bit of fun in the energy of all the puns that you’ve been making.
We’re going to wear costumes. There’s going to be a little costume contest, where you can win subscription to Room and the tote, and our Anthology. I’m planning to bring like a big bucket of Halloween candy. We’re thinking of putting together a little group, if people want to go to an event afterward, and celebrate Halloween also.
So, I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. As with the ghost issue, a really good mix of laughter, joy jokes, and also, using that as a gateway to dig into some really powerful and emotional work together in ways that are really sustaining.
Rachel Thompson: 37:58
I’m not sure if we said it’s in Vancouver, but I will also put all the details and link to the event, in the show notes for the episode.
I want to finish with my Quick Lit. Fill in the blank exercise, let’s say.
So, the first fill in the blank is,
Being a writer is…
Nara Monteiro: 38:15
Complicated, about being madly in love with words, and a little bit obsessed with translating all of the messy goopy stuff that goes on inside of our hearts into something other people can understand.
Rachel Thompson: 38:31
Love that messy, goopy stuff.
Literary magazines are…
Nara Monteiro: 38:37
The often invisible part of what makes so many of the stories we love happen. Writers need a place to get their start. Writers need a place to meet other writers who are in the same stages as they are. They need places to get to know the landscape that they’re putting their words into, and literary magazines do all of this.
In addition to each issue, I think being somebody special on its own, a lot of the time, I’m really interested in the role literary magazines have. Even a lot of book readers and books who mostly just kind of walk into the bookstore and pick up the bestseller and leave, don’t really know that most writers get their start in a literary magazine, and even well into their career. That’s the place where you can kind of open up and find new writers that you really love. It’s like a little anthology, quarterly of people who are writing now, which I think is lovely, and more important than most people know, to keeping the literary ecosystem healthy and diverse.
Rachel Thompson: 39:49
Yeah, that ghost theme just keeps coming back where the invisible are part of the equation.
Nara Monteiro: 39:56
Editing requires empathy above all, I think. You need to see both what the writer wants to say, and what the reader will probably hear. You can never know exactly what the reader will hear. I like to joke that all writing is manipulation. Because really, you’re just trying to get your reader to understand what you’re saying, and it is a joke. But on another level, it’s an act of translation from word lessness, to something other people can read, which is what I said earlier, but I think editing is a second pair of eyes on that. On that, specifically, you want to make sure that you don’t have anything in your piece that’s going to block the way and that’s a lot of where the basic things like grammar and syntax come in. But you also want somebody to be able to say,
“I think you were trying to say something more here. Can you expand on that?”
Then really understand your message and get back to you with the ways that you can make it crisper and sharper.
Rachel Thompson: 40:54
That leads me to,
Rejection for a writer means…
Nara Monteiro: 40:58
Rejection for a writer means an invitation to keep going. One of my favorite writers, N.K. Jemisin, highly recommend anything by Jemisin, had a writing group where they would all collectively tally their rejections and when they reached 100, they would go up for drinks and celebrate. Because it meant that they were putting their work out there, they were writing more, and submitting more. So, rejections were also something to celebrate.
It is an intense experience. Because Sidney Hegele, another writer, I really, really love talked about how people have this impression that as you get further into your career, you get your rejections and that’s not actually true. I believe that they had an issue of their newsletter Marsh Mail on this and how they published less in the past here than they had before their book came out, and some of it was commissioned. I don’t quote any exact numbers, I don’t quite remember. But I think it really drove home for me that one of the things I’m working on is to make peace with rejections, and to see them as an invitation to either find a different home, or to kind of improve upon the writing.
At Room, we do publish a lot of stuff that is rejected from other places, not because there’s anything wrong with the writing, but because it is tackling topics, not everybody is willing to sink their teeth into as publishers, there is this perception, I think about a lot of the things that Room has been publishing since inception that it is controversial or difficult.
So, not every rejection means that there’s something that you need to fix about the writing, sometimes it is that you need to revisit it. But sometimes it’s just that you need to revisit the right home for it.
Whether you’re revisiting the space you want your writing to live in, or the actual writing itself, I think it’s an invitation to look more closely at what you’re trying to say and who you’re trying to say it to.
Rachel Thompson: 43:02
I mean, I have to say we turned down work that we liked for this issue. So, it doesn’t mean really much if you’re getting a rejection at that level.
Nara Monteiro: 43:11
So much goes into it. I think you’ve talked about this before, but everything from we only have four pages left, and this poem is six pages long, two. We have this connected motif that’s kind of emerged throughout the issue, and both of these pieces are fantastic. But one of them touches a lot on this motif, and we think it’ll fit really well with the other pieces, like all sorts of things go into it, and the final stages. That’s why I’m a huge proponent of rejections with encouragement.
Rachel Thompson: 43:42
We need to do more of those. I’m thinking guilty of not doing as many of them as I wish I could have anyway, in this process.
Nara Monteiro: 43:50
It’s also about team capacity, right? You have to have the time.
Rachel Thompson: 43:56
Then my final Quick Lit, fill in the blank is,
Writing community is…
Nara Monteiro: 44:01
I’m going to talk about what writing community should be. Because writing community should be nourishing to your writing practice, to your life outside of writing, to your imagination, and to the quality of your craft.
Nara Monteiro: 44:18
Writing community isn’t always easy to find, not every writing community is the same and they shouldn’t all be the same. But also not every writing community is actually good for you and you want to be thinking about how do you feel when you leave these spaces. But a writing community that’s right for you should leave you wanting to write, it should leave you feeling like you’ve been heard, it should leave you feeling like this is something worth doing. Even when you walk out, maybe you had a workshop and it was difficult because you got a lot of feedback about how to change things or maybe it was difficult because someone else’s work ended up taking up a lot of time and there wasn’t much left for you. But there are ways that those experiences can be very negative.
Then there are also ways that they can be positive if the feedback feels achievable, if it feels like something that will help you refine your skills, or if reading this other point who’s worked for a long time was because it was really important, and you only needed to give space to what was being discussed here, and you feel like you’ve learned something that you can apply yourself as well. Those are the kinds of feelings you want to be having after being in a community of writers.
Rachel Thompson: 45:33
That sounds like experience speaking to me.
Nara Monteiro: 45:36
Yeah. I did do some creative writing classes in my undergrad. I really struggled with the typical workshop, because it really was just a field day for people to give you their first impressions. When you are that new, we were all very fresh. I think anyone’s feedback can be valuable to some extent. But an hour of totally raw, unfiltered feedback from people who are still really early in the development of their own craft, wasn’t for me, a good space to develop my own writing, it largely was kind of frustrating and left me feeling; I wanted to jump out of a space where my type of writing was not always well received, in part because it needed a lot of work. Also, in part, because it wasn’t the genre but the classes were built around. Those were the first places where I tried to build writing community and I joined writing groups out of those classes. They left me feeling like I should be writing something else. It didn’t matter how many times I edited a piece, I was always going to get really confusing responses. That wasn’t nourishing, and it wasn’t helpful.
So, I had better experiences since but I look for writing community where people are willing to meet you where you’re at, and kind of think about the writing, from their perspective, because everyone’s perspective is helpful. But also from the perspective of the people it’s for.
Rachel Thompson: 47:02
Yeah, that’s paramount. I think you said it really well with like, you want to leave those engagements with community, feeling inspired to keep going and excited about what you can do next, in your work in your vision not be like what I’m picking up is like, I’m going to change that to a whole new genre to try to satisfy these people that are not happy with what I’m doing.
When you’re beginning, it’s hard to go, which feedback is the right feedback here. Maybe that person does seem to know something about writing, maybe they are right about this misreading of my work. I think that’s really important. Thank you.
Nara Monteiro: 47:42
Thank you for asking such thoughtful questions.
Rachel Thompson: 47:44
Yeah, just thank you so much for taking the time to be with me today and talk about this process. It is funny, it feels like making people more corporeal, even though of course, we’re still virtual, very far away from each other. But it’s all these people who I’ve communicated with in little bits here and there throughout the process in making the issue and to be able to sit with you for an hour is just lovely.
Nara Monteiro: 48:07
Thank you. Yeah, no, it’s really lovely. I’m always looking to get to know the folks that we work with Room better. Thank you so much for inviting me.
Rachel Thompson: 48:16
So that was my wonderful conversation with Nara Monteiro. I really appreciated what they shared about finding the right writing community, one that makes you feel better about your work and sets you on the path to write the work that you want to write; community that inspires you to keep going, or this is a callback for the OG listeners to a very, very early episode to follow your own lights as well. So
Watch this feed for more interviews with my colleagues, as well as contributors, including artists and writers coming up. As I mentioned, there’s at least four more of these coming up. I think it probably will end up four, but that’s what I’ve planned so far. But you never know because I’ve just been really enjoying having these conversations.
So, I suggest you go back to start at episode 80. You’re going to hear from multiple contributors to the issue and get a little peek into behind the scenes of producing Room 46.3.
I also encourage you to watch this feed to keep listening for more about our current book club reading, in our Writerly Love community. We do read books on writing craft and that are Writerly related books.
In 2024, actually, we’re going to plan to only do two books so you’ll hear what they are in a future episode. But right now, we are currently reading on connection by On Connection by Kae Tempest. It’s a small but mighty, mighty volume, so there’s still time if you’d like to pick up a copy and read along with us because it’s not a long read, but it will really get you thinking about connection and your role as an artist in this world.
I’ll be talking about the book in an episode that will be out late November ish, probably early December, one of those times in that ballpark.
Finally I’ll just remind you about the event the Nara and I discussed, Let Us Haunt You, a Halloween Celebration and Open Mic, it is happening this Friday. If you’re listening to the podcast the week, it drops. So, come haunt us at our open mic where you can share your stories. That’s for writers of marginalized genders. You can enjoy readings from Room 46.3 Ghosts writers, and mingle at our costume contest. This is a live and live streamed event. So, I’ve put the link to join up in the show notes for this episode at rachelthompson.co/ 83.
The Write, Publish, and Shine podcast is brought to you by me, Rachel Thompson. Sound Editing by Adam Linder. Transcripts by Diya Jaffery.
You can learn more about the work I do to help writers, write, publish, and shine at rachelthompson.co. When you’re there, sign up for my Writerly Love letters, sent every week and filled with support for your writing practice.
If this episode encouraged you to send some snail mail or nerd out numbers or come to our costume party this week, I would love to hear all about it. You can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and that’s the only way to reach me. I am slowly working on a slow re-entry on my terms to Instagram. You can follow me there @rachelthompsonauthor but note I’m not going to return to DMs, so that’s why I’m saying, on my terms, so the best way to reach me is always by email.
And tell other luminous writers about this episode. You can do this by sending them to the podcast at rachelthompson.co/podcast or tell them to search for Write, Publish, and Shine wherever they get their podcasts.
Thank you so much for listening— I encourage you to find the writing community that does make you follow your own lights and do things the way that you would like to do them with support and encouragement that includes learning and growth of course, but that doesn’t dampen your light.
Nara Monteiro joined me from Vancouver on unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) lands.
And I am a guest in the South Sinai on lands of the el Muzzina Bedouin.