The Write, Publish, and Shine podcast, hosted by me, author and literary magazine editor Rachel Thompson, celebrates its 99th episode! I reflect on the podcast journey and past episodes, highlighting eleven essential writing tips from literary magazine editors who have been guests on the show.

Listen if you need encouragement to write, publish, and shine. Editors share how and why to read deeply, tell your truths, and continue your creative journey with resilience and passion while connecting with the broader social and political contexts that influence your writing.


Notes and Links from the Episode

  • Join us to read like a writer this summer >>
  • Notes from the editors’ clips appear on each episode.
    • Episode 17: Delight in Language with Maya Marshall of [PANK]

    • Episode 38: Restore the Balance of Narratives with Marjorie Tesser of Mom Egg Review

    • Episode 12: Write Rhymes with Fight with Eufemia Fantetti of Humber Literary Review

    • Episode 11: Understand Who You Are with Alicia Elliott of The Fiddlehead

    • Episode 19: Take Control of Your Narrative with Robin Richardson of Minola Review

    • Episode 45: Weird Writing with Téa Franco, Genevieve Kersten, and Elizabeth Upshur of Okay Donkey

    • Episode 49: Nothing Has to Happen with Terese Mason Pierre of Augur

    • Episode 35:  Trust Your Writing with Emily Wojcik of Massachusetts Review
    • Episode 46: Food Writing with Christine Wu and McKenna James Boeckner of Qwerty

    • Episode 14: Keep Going with Amanda Leduc from the Festival of Literary Diversity

    • Episode 34: Make Relationships Right with Jessica Johns of Room

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#99 Write, Publish, Shine Episode Transcript


Maya Marshall

Marjorie Tesser

Eufemia Fantetti

Robin Richardson

Alicia Elliott

Téa Franco

Genevieve Kristin

Elizabeth Upshur

Therese Mason-Pierre

Emily Wojcik

Christine Wu

Amanda Leduc

Jessica Johns

Rachel Thompson

Rachel Thompson:

Hi listeners, Rachel here with an exciting announcement. We are holding a summer book club Bingo game and there is a card that you can download, a bunch of prompts for different types of books that you can choose to read, to play the game along with us, all the instructions and information on how to sign up are at where you can get your card and you’ll also be able to enter your card to win prizes throughout the summer months.

So that’s from May to September, we’ll be renting this book club Bingo. I hope you will sign up and read some cool books and be inspired to do some more writerly reading this summer. So all the information is at

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 publish author.

Hello, my lovely Luminous Writers, listeners to the Write, Publish and Shine podcast. This is episode 99. I don’t know if you can hear the excitement in my voice, but I really can’t believe it. And this podcast has been going on for years.

I’ve done seasonal breaks and come in and out of it, but still we made it to episode 99. Those of you who’ve been listening since the start know that the podcast launched out of a series of Lit mag editor interviews I did for Room Magazine. And my aim was to demystify what literary magazine editors want in submissions from creative writers. So it started under the title of Lit mag Love, which is also a course that I offer by that title, but then it expanded into conversations with emerging writers to and more about writing practice and ideas to help you write, publish and shine, thus the renaming that happened in the last year or so.

But the foundation has always been the conversations I’ve had with my fellow Lit mag editors. So many of them informed how I think about writing, what’s important when it comes to craft, honesty, creative practices, in this 99th podcast episode. Therefore, I highlight 11 of the most important gleanings for me of these conversations. These are based on interviews with 11 different Lit mag editors. And I share how they impact the way I teach writers and think about writing.

Dear listeners, I hope these insights gathered over 99 episodes from these luminous guests help you embrace your relationship with writing in a renewed way if you need it, or give you stamina to keep going in these days where maybe creativity feels like a slog against the productivity pushing that inundates us every day, or maybe it’s just hard to find the time or space to create or feel creative in the world today.

Again, I hope these help you embrace your relationship with writing in a renewed way. So here they are, 11 insights gathered from 99 episodes of the Write, Publish and Shine podcast. Thanks for listening.

When I first spoke with Maya Marshall in episode 17, she was the poetry editor at Pank. As we spoke, I loved her clarity of language about language. Her simple straightforward advice on craft for writers has stuck with me since this conversation.

Maya Marshall:

Keep writing. Read a lot, right? I mean, it’s such common advice, but people don’t read as much as I think we ought to, because you don’t know what you’re going to need, right? Like I’ve learned all sorts of strange things about moths.

You know, there’s this cobra moth who just shakes its wings what looks like the head of a cobra so it scares off predators. That’s fascinating. And that’s the kind of thing that shows up in an essay as a metaphor. What a cool tidbit. Also, if you read writers that you don’t like and you can identify what it is they’re doing with their text that you don’t want to be, or the function of this strategy, then you can put that in your toolbox and use it later.

But if you don’t read, you don’t know. And also, writing is hard, and it takes a long time until you practice. You just keep doing it, but this is not about that one moment of the Athenian poem erupting from Zeus’s head. That’s rare to gift when it happens, but most of the time writing is work, so you have to set aside time and sit down and do it.

And reading is a way to be inspired to do that, because often you get to look at writers that you love and say, wow, how did you put that together? Like, if I can figure out how you did it, then I can use the strategy too. Like, maybe I need to start verbing nouns more often. That’s pretty cool.

Or like, can I listen to, you know, Una Simone and figure out what about her accent is alluring to me? How can I pull that voice into my text? That’s the advice, read a lot, write a lot. Nicky Finney has been really helpful in saying like, be specific.

So she taught me to write revision narratives and to go down the sort of checklist, right? Like, have I paid attention to the sequence here? Like, why is this line length? How is imagery working? Am I using associative language? If I mentioned it in the beginning of the poem or the essay or the story, has it come back by the end? And if not, why not? There’s a language of talking about writing that I think writers should learn.

Rachel Thompson:

Since this interview, I invited Maya Marshall to do workshops in our community a couple of times, and I always admire her systematic approaches to writing and revision. It is so freeing to come ready for the assignment, meaning pre-empting our resistance with specific questions and tools to get us more quickly into writing.

She did one presentation on how there’s no such thing as writer’s block, for example, and proceeded to prove her thesis with deep generative prompts to guide us into writing with freedom. As our community enters a season of intentional writerly reading, check out if you want to know more about that or join us.

I’m struck again by the simple truth that reading is part of the gig. Also, what about the advice to read writers you don’t like to identify what they’re doing with the text that you don’t want in your own? That is brilliant. My bottom line takeaways from this interview are that language is important, including the language used to talk about writing and reading and curiosity about reading are paramount.

Next up, I want to turn our attention to Marjorie Tesser in my conversation in episode 38, Marjorie Tesser of Mom Egg Review, and I went deep in that episode talking about women’s writing, writing from marginalized genders or writing let’s say that doesn’t center the same perspectives that have dominated literature. She addressed editors who dismiss our stories.

And I think probably most resonant for me was when we talked about the lack of imagination it takes to think in her example that a story about a dog is literature and a story about parenting a child is not. And that was really prevalent at the time of our conversation. I think it persists today, but I’m also excited seeing shifts in terms of how we claim our stories and redefine literature. So that’s the foundation of our conversation as the Mom Egg review publishes stories of motherhood after all.

But then our conversation she also described how to get deeper into those themes in order to be successful in polishing and then publishing writing, starting with finding the time to write often.

Marjorie Tesser:

The thing that I can recommend most would be to write often as often as you can. I had studied with the poet Marie Panso who raised seven children as a single mother. And she said that there is always 10 minutes out of a day that you can find to write whether it’s first thing in the morning or as she did after the children were asleep. And often that 10 minutes if circumstances agree will extend to more. And what you get from that sort of free writing is a chance to engage with your own thoughts and your own ideas.

And the more you do it, the more you may find that you become more articulate, you become more nuanced in terms of what you realize about the things that you’re writing about. In terms of not being greeting card or popular magazine article, we publish literary writing, not just writing. So we don’t want anything that’s pat or facile or sentimental in the way of being emotional without specificity.

So the way that I would encourage writers to prepare to write for a journal would be to go deeper, to go beyond, I love my child so much, or this was really painful, to really engage with the subject matter in some thoughtful way, emotionally, intellectually, and politically. I think the best pieces contain some element of surprise or strangeness, but also something that the reader might recognize.

So surprise or strangeness can come in the form of an unusual or unfamiliar situation, but also you can use a surprising image, surprising language, surprising form. The ideas themselves may be surprising or the emotions may not be what is expected. Recognition in the reader arises when the piece is somehow in conversation with something the reader thinks or knows, either to confirm it or to challenge something that the reader thinks. And so a piece that has both that strangeness and that element of recognition is likely to be a successful piece for us.

Rachel Thompson:

So that was Marjorie Tesser of Mom Egg review. You may already see this recurring theme from my conversations of encouraging writers to go beyond surface level expressions and delve into thoughtful, emotional, intellectual, and political aspects of writing. And I love Marjorie Tesser’s specific advice to find elements of surprise, strangeness, and recognition in their work that can make it more engaging and successful.

I invited Eufemia Fantetti to talk about her editorial work at Humber Literary Review, but I had also met her years prior in a writing program. So I already knew that her appearance in episode 12 would be full of Sage Council. She’s just one of those people that you run into on the street and suddenly you’re late for an appointment, but talking about what really matters.

And this interview was no different for me in my experience of her and what she had to share. I pulled the title of her conversation from a gem that she expressed, write rhymes with fight for a reason, a phrase I think about often today when I feel helpless in our polycracies of ecocide and genocide. I think I can fight with my writing. That’s what I do. And that becomes a mantra.

Yes, write rhymes with fight. But what I want to highlight from our interview is this moment when Eufemia broke down further how she approaches the truth telling that we just heard Marjorie Tesser encourage. Here is Eufemia on her deep engagement with her subject matter drawing from her life.

Eufemia Fantetti:

I write so much about my family because sometimes I wish for them I wish that I didn’t. For me, I have no choice. I write to excavate what’s happened and find my way through the chaos of what’s happened because otherwise, some of those experience felt like there’s a lot of suffering and chaos without self-awareness. And I don’t want to continue my life that way. I don’t want to be like a pinball at the mercy of life. I’d rather figure out like, oh, I’m having this reaction because this is happening.

And I remember this from this. And I know this because I’ve written it down. And I’ve accessed that awareness that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t write it down, that kind of thing. I have prayers that I say before I write. I have intentions that I speak out loud before I write. I remind myself that the goal is to get to the truth and to uncover it.

I tell myself that I would have really benefited if someone had come forward and said, this is what it’s like when you come from a family that’s immigrant family dealing with a person with a severe mental illness, intensely violent, steeped in misogyny, steeped in old world paganism married to thousand years of Catholicism and the burden that is. I think that if someone had said to me like, it looks like this, or if I’d even read about a character that was like that, and I said, look, there’s me on the page.

I think about what an incredibly life affirming and earth-shattering and thunderclap that would have been for me. And so I think when I go to write these stories, I think years ago, I was doing this play about my family. So it was like a one-woman show and the big shock for me was the number of women that came up to me and said, my mother tried to kill me too. My mother was really dangerous. My mother was violent, and I was like, I thought it was me. I thought it was something so particular to me, like my experience of, it’s really easy to think it’s you if you’re the person on the receiving end of a lot of aggression and violence, and especially from birth, from the moment you have memory.

So to find out that there’s a whole tribe of women who’ve gone through this, and not just women, but there’s a whole tribe of people that have had this experience, and they are just looking for the validation that it’s happened, and they’re just looking to have someone put into words what it feels like, because maybe they’ve gone and tried to get help, or maybe they’ve done a whole bunch of other things, looking for help, and then you get that kind of like pushback that I think sometimes happens in therapy, where they’ll be like, what can you do about this?

What can you do now? And I feel like that puts the onus on the person who has suffered to end the suffering when sometimes it’s better to just say this really awful thing happened. I’m sorry that it happened. I’m going to sit with you and give you a cup of tea or something like that. Well, we just wait out this terrible feeling, because so many atrocious things happen, and I think that there’s this pervasive kind of pull yourself up by your bootstraps. You got to fix this.

What are you doing to make this better? Do you have a self-care list? Do you have a…are you doing this? Are you going for a run? Are you going for a walk? Are you going for a jog? All of that kind of stuff that I think we all know that like there are things we could do that would be a little healthier than maybe running across the street and buying like a gallon of hug and doss and eating that at the same time as you’re eating chips, and then just kind of being like that’s my dinner for tonight. Everybody knows what it takes to eat a healthy diet.

When you’re in pain or when you’re suffering because something’s happened, and it’s like a trip wire that re-ignites that trauma in the central nervous system, I think it’s appalling to kind of ask people to be like, could you have handled this better? Could you have done that? I think it’s incredibly insensitive. When I think about writing about my family, I think that there will always be the person that says that’s not how it happened.

Like my mother’s never going to agree with me. My mother’s never going to admit that she was abusive. She’s never going to think that she was excessive in her violence. She really grew up in a world and a time and a place where you could do anything to people short of murdering them, and they had to tolerate you. They had to take care of you. They didn’t walk away from you. She didn’t come from a world of divorce, and so she just brought her worst self to the game every day, and we put up with it for a very, very, very long time.

My dad was married to her for 36 years, and I didn’t stop speaking to her until about four years ago. So when I write those stories, I tell myself no one was at their best. We all failed each other, and I want to be honest in telling that story. I don’t want to gloss over the parts and the times where I was vicious or angry, and I didn’t walk away. I didn’t take the silent protest or the peaceful route. I fought back. I landed blows.

Whether I was cornered or just because I was having that kind of day where I was like, I’ve had enough of this, and now I respond this way too. So I think when I get to the writing part, I think, how can I do this and honor the stories that we’re all carrying inside of us, me, my mother, her mother, my father, his father, all the way back?

Rachel Thompson:

That was Eufemia Fantetti, a brilliant author who also spoke to me as an editor with Humber Literary Review, and I’m always gobsmacked by the advice in our conversations and the idea to honor the stories that we’re carrying inside of us is just, wow, for me. So balancing out the idea of really going there in our writing, digging deeply, spilling our guts, as it were. There’s also the craft concerns. We are writing for other people, we’re forming things, and that requires control.

So I really appreciated from my conversation in episode 19 with Robin Richardson from the now, sadly, the Minola Review, when she gave advice on writing in her case, poems with control.

Robin Richardson:

I think just a straight-on critique of the other is not very valuable. So I do see that a lot. I think people think, well, this is a feminist journal, so if I just sort of complain about the patriarchy in a certain way or talk about this terrible thing, someone once did to me, and that’s very easy to do, and you can accomplish that in a conversation as well. I really encourage people to push further and get something more out of it and look more inward. You know, there’s sort of a line and things are falling on either side of it when I get submission, so I really would want to push people to the other side of the line.

And then, you know, outside of that, it’s also push the craft. Really pay attention to what’s out there. Try to make your, would you enjoy reading this poem as much as you would enjoy reading Mary Rufel or Robert Frost, who’s a quality poem. Sometimes I think people can jump the gun a bit. I don’t think you’re ready to start submitting until you’ve done a lot of workshopping, a lot of sharing, a lot of reading, and your poems just feel inevitable.

I don’t think you can really get to that point where you’re writing valuable poetry from the gut that works until you’ve really mastered the craft. So I think that’s one of those things that you sort of after five, six years of really, really practicing, you’re ready to submit a poem that is from the gut, but is also valuable. It’s like learning how to play the piano before you can sort of wing something beautiful. It’s, you eat.

I, but I think it has to get to point that you’re not overthinking it and you’re not trying to sort of form the perfect poem with it, but you, you have such an innate sense of meter and rhyme and metaphor that when you have something to say, you’re going to be able to say it fluidly. So that is a difficult thing to do when there’s a bit of magic involved almost the kind of magic that comes with many, many thousands of that was a practice. In my own work, how do I catch that sort of thing? I would say if it doesn’t feel inevitable, if I feel like I’m trying to write a certain kind of poem, I can already feel it failing.

Also, if I sort of go, oh, that was so clever with what I did with those two words, then it’s, it’s probably not very good. I think there was a time when that kind of clever verbal gymnastics was considered very valuable and I just, I am losing interest in it personally. I can’t speak to its value outside of that, but I really do appreciate sort of almost more modernist American approach, really telling a story with meter and having something worth saying.

And every once in a while, that will need to break into some serious abstraction and something that sounds quite poetic in order to tell that story because it’s a complicated story. But if it doesn’t need to break down, don’t break it down on purpose. And I see that a lot. I see a lot of people overcomplicating their word usage or breaking up syntax when it’s really not necessary. And it’s just, I think, they’re thinking, well, this is what makes it a poem and not a piece of prose. So they’re kind of coming at it backwards.

I think it needs to be mastered before it can be manipulated. It would be like a painter starting off with an abstract Picasso instead of learning to paint classically first. In terms of my own work right now, right now I’m writing a whole new manuscript that is all basically prose poems with no punctuation and no line breaks. They’re full justified. And they sort of, each one, I mean, there’s a greater theme of a kind of an unconscious processing.

We’re looking at dreams at archetypes. And then within each poem, I sort of take a theme and just beat it to death. It sort of becomes kind of repetitious. And it moves through this whole journey of looking back through archetypes that were implanted in my own psyche or in the collective unconscious at a certain point and moving through this journey with them.

At this point, I think I’m pretty good at catching myself in anything that seems forced. I’m not trying to write good poems anymore, and I think that’s the heart of it. I think it just doesn’t happen. I don’t fall into that trap anymore. I would also say, for when I was still learning that, and I say this to my students all the time, if you are wondering if something is cliche, it’s definitely cliche. So take it out and try another 10 times before you get something that’s probably original.

And that’s what’s so thrilling about poetry is you have this. You’re like, okay, I need three beats, and I need it to sort of reflect a kind of bluish hue. And I also needed to say something violent, but not overtly violent. And I also needed to have a lot of T sounds. And you can spend the next three hours coming up with that word. But if you fall short and you throw something in that you think might work in the meantime, you’re failing. It’s hard.

Rachel Thompson:

That was Robin Richardson of the former journal Manola Review. It was beautiful and it’s hard to see journals closing, as I said, and that has happened a lot recently. I take from what Robin Richardson shared with us the idea of patience that every step as we write is like, as she says, learning the rhythms and notes on piano and our control builds through our practice. As much as we practice craft, it’s also clear to me that there is an intrinsically linked practice of self-knowledge that is required of writers.

I think about early writing of mine and the things I didn’t connect or realize about myself with kindness, sure, but also a little embarrassment, of course. This conversation with Alicia Elliott really cemented the essential art of knowing what we believe as writers and has informed how I teach and critique writing, drawing writers into sharp understanding of who they are as people, gently, of course, and they can only go there if they want to go there.

Alicia Elliott was the CNF editor at The Fiddlehead at the time of our conversation in episode 11.

Alicia Elliott:

I think that sometimes as writers, it’s very easy to kind of not examine ourselves at all, because we’re like, well, we’re examining the world and we’re doing very good work. But I think that when a writer doesn’t have a good understanding of who they are and what their beliefs are, not just around writing, but around the world, like good things in the world, that they’re going to necessarily lack the conviction in their writing to go daring places and ask daring questions.

And I feel like, again, always tell when a writer is holding back because they’re scared of what they’re going to find out about themselves or they’re scared of what they’re going to find out about the world, things that they would rather not know. And that’s unfortunate because sometimes I find that when I’m reading a piece of creative nonfiction, it’s good. And I’m excited about it. And then as I continue going, I’m like, OK, so I kind of see where they’re going here.

I’m excited to see where they end and they stop pushing themselves and allow themselves to end an easy place that doesn’t require critical thinking on their own part. And it’s so disappointing because I feel like the thing that I’m constantly saying and my constant critique of so many, I wouldn’t say not even just creative nonfiction writers, but just writers in general is go deeper. If you came to this answer very easily, then there’s probably more there that you’re not getting to.

You could make it richer. You could make it more interesting. You could make it more difficult, more vulnerable. So if you’re going somewhere very easy, then you have to ask yourself, why is it so easy? It shouldn’t be this easy. And if it is this easy, then is it because I chose for it to be easy? And I feel like many times the writer does choose for it to be easy in the pieces that aren’t quite working. And that’s where the difficulty comes in because if they were to allow themselves space to be a bit messy, then they would lead themselves to more interesting places. And it would be more revelatory writing in general.

Rachel Thompson:

So that was Alicia Elliott, then of The Fiddlehead, now a brilliant author with much critical acclaim for her writing. And she shared that hard truth that writing needs to be hard. Sorry, not sorry for this advice. It calls to mind that definition of passion is something that we’re willing to suffer for. And it’s like that’s why we’re doing this thing because we’re passionate about it, though I also know in my bones that we can suffer with so much care for ourselves and rest and breaks. But writing is hard because we need to work on our craft and ourselves.

Knowing yourself is great. And knowing what makes you weird, in my opinion, is even greater, especially when we can embrace that in words. Probably one of my most delightful group interviews was for episode number 45 with the trio of editors from OK Donkey. Here is Téa Franco, Genevieve Kersten, and Elizabeth Upshur in that order when I ask them about how to get weird in our writing.

Téa Franco:

I would say that if a writer is interested in writing weird things, the first thing that you have to do in order to write weird things, in my opinion at least, is to kind of just pretend that nobody’s ever going to see it. I think that’s a really big barrier is this embarrassment or stigma that comes along with writing things that might not be traditionally accepted in literature.

And you can get really caught up with all the rules that you learn and all these expectations that you have on your own writing. So I think starting off just being like, this is a story that I’m writing for myself and nobody else has to ever see it. It gives you a lot of freedom to really go out of the box and write what you really are interested in. And I think writing weird stuff is so much fun and you can have so much fun with it, but it’s only possible if you let yourself do it.

And as far as new writers who are writing weird things, I think it’s definitely possible to go too far into the weirdness, but I think that’s what your drafts are for. So when you’re drafting something, I wouldn’t even think about the possibility of you going too far. Just keep writing and go as far as you want. And then having a trusted friend look at your work and kind of help you whittle that weirdness down into something that is understandable to people that aren’t just you. It’s super helpful.

So I think if you’re trying to start writing weird, a big thing is to have other people like help you get yourself back on track when it’s time for revising.

Genevieve Kersten:

I very much agree with what Téa is saying when piece specifically is learning trust, self-trust in your writing and just like allowing yourself to be weird on the page. I think that’s a barrier for a lot of writers. No matter where they are in their writing life and career, I mean, I think people that write more traditional pieces when they start being interested in writing stranger things, I think it sometimes feels like, oh, I don’t know if I can do this. Not like, I don’t know if I’m capable, but like, I don’t know if I’m allowed to do this.

And really learning how to turn that voice off is a challenge and a skill and a muscle that you have to use and develop. I also think a really important element is reading very strange things. I think that it’s like finding a path almost, you know, like you’re walking around in the middle of the woods and you don’t know where the hell you’re going. And then all of a sudden you stumble on to like a semi-groomed path that’s going to get you to where you want to go. I know for me, there’s kind of one book specifically that I looked to that was my path to building my own confidence.

And that would be Elect H. Mouse State Judge by Nelly Rifler. But that is like maybe the single strangest book I’ve ever read. And it is so weird and funny and dark and reading it. I felt like my brain was opened to this world of writing that I thought was probably out there, but had never like fully immersed myself in. And so I think even if it’s just one thing that bridges that gap for both writers and readers, I think that can be really, really important and just allowing yourself to write the weird strange things that are flitting around in your head that you think no one else will want. But we want it. So write.

Elizabeth Upshur:

So I definitely wanted to echo what Genevieve was saying about reading strange things. And if you’re lucky enough to have someone who is a great reading slash writing and editing partner for you is to absolutely egg each other on as you’re going through your drafts until you get something that is absolutely as weird and wonderful and strange as you envisioned it to be.

And then in terms of very concrete ways of getting started in baptism or all sorts of weird writing would be to keep a dream journal because our dreams are great for mining ideas. It can be some of the strangest things I had to dream the other night about my shoes, my sister slippers. And it got very strange. I don’t even remember what happened because I didn’t write it down. But you know, dreams get weird and they’re a great way of prompting us to think about things outside the page and then x-rastic poems.

We need a poetry prompt in one of my classes where you look at a very strange painting and then you have to write a poem about it without knowing what that person wrote about. It gets introduced to the group. And everyone had these really great and interesting poems that came from that. So those would definitely be my tips for starting out with weird writing.

Rachel Thompson:

So that was the team at okay donkey of Taya Franco, Genevieve Kirsten, and Elizabeth Upsher. They had that trust advice again, trust yourself and allow yourself to be weird on the page. And that reading advice again, read strange things to find inspiration and paths for your own writing. And all writers can get weird given the freedom to explore and have fun with your writing. So it’s not all hard. There is fun in giving yourself freedom.

Another way to find that freedom in writing is releasing ourselves from formal concerns of how writing should be structured and what must happen in a story or poem. In episode 49, Terese Mason-Pierre of Augur magazine shared with me about the need for literary spaces to welcome different kinds of stories and storytelling methods.

Terese Mason-Pierre:

Nothing has to happen in the story. There doesn’t need to be like explosions or big shocking twists. It’s just enough to have well-developed characters and a beautiful world. And in that way, readers can be invited into a way of being almost within the story that we just love to settle into.

We as readers and as editors reading the story, we really love characters that are whole and human. Well, human is like a, as an actor, they don’t literally have to be human. But we want to read stories that move us. A lot of different editors on the editorial board. We have different things for us that makes a good story. I happen to be a plot person. So I like when things happen, but I also like characters and places in the story and poems as well that sort of stay with me after I’ve put the story down.

I want to be thinking about the story whenever I’m doing other things like at work or doing groceries or anything like that. And these are the kinds of stories that we value. I find it’s also kind of difficult to classify these kinds of stories. And I think that’s kind of the point and why Auger opened up this kind of liminal space for this kind of writing, if that makes sense. I’m online a lot. And a lot of the discussions that I’ve been seeing online have talked about how we can talk about certain stories being Western or sort of dominant in the mainstream.

But we can also talk about different story structures or particular story structures that are also dominant. Part of that difference and part of that diversity that Auger loves is also sort of a diversity in the way the story is structured.

Rachel Thompson:

So that was Terese Mason-Pierre of Augur magazine. There isn’t a rigid form to follow and some of the most exciting writing I see from my students breaks all of the form conventions. To do this takes deep trust in yourself and your writing, building out from that self-knowledge and attention you give to your craft. Trusting yourself and your writing is a motif that has appeared time and again probably in every single episode of these 99 episodes of The Write, Publish and Shine Podcast. Here’s Emily Wojcik of Massachusetts review on that subject as well.

Emily Wojcik:

Trust your writing, right? I mean, this is the big thing I find over and over again, especially with less experienced writers is trust your writing, trust that you’re going to be able to get through it. And if you can’t, if the story doesn’t do that, then the cover letter is not going to help, right?

But trust that you don’t need to set up, you don’t need to set me up. If you’ve done a decent job, I’ll get into it, I’ll get it. I think, you know, people get nervous and they really want, they really want to be published and I totally respect that. And so they think, well, maybe this will help. And, you know, basically just comes down to how good is the piece.

Rachel Thompson:

So that was Emily Wojcik of Massachusetts review, trust your writing. And when you trust your writing, you inevitably will bring deep truths. And this is what matters as editors have told me time and again, throughout these 99 episodes. Here is another of so many editors who’ve said this. And in this episode 46, Christine Wu of Qwerty magazine at the time told me about what she wants to see in submissions as an editor.

Christine Wu:

I look for pieces that are compelling. They need to tell the truth in some way, whether that’s personal truth or universal truth. It does need to be pretty well polished. So no unnecessary words, crisp, surprising images, word choice is very important, thoughtful line breaks. So I’m just looking for something that can evoke some sort of connection.

Rachel Thompson:

So to recap, where we are at so far in this episode, looking at 11 editors who are sharing essential writing advice for emerging writers, we started at the language level. Check the quote from Christine Wu has that too. Well polished, no one necessary words, crisp, surprising. Your stories matter, even when historically they haven’t been lauded. Going deeper in your stories and taking control of your narrative is vital to being a writer and connecting with your readers, as is knowing yourself and having deep insights into where you are coming from. So you can present universal truths, knowing yourself, going weird, structure, smutcher.

That’s my mini recap of where we are so far. And I want to turn us from these fundamentals of the craft of writing and the know how and self awareness required to be a writer to two final editors who I’m going to quote about two other vital aspects of being an emerging writer. First, here is Amanda Leduc in episode 14, who is best known as a wonderful writer and part of the Festival of Literary Diversity. Amanda brought our listeners writing advice she herself received early on.

Amanda Leduc:

The best writing advice I ever received as an emerging writer was to not give up, which sounds so simple. And it is advice that has been given to me at various points in my life. But it came before my first novel was published. My first novel came out in 2013. So I guess probably about the beginning of 2011. So before I had received a book deal for this book, I was talking to a writer friend, Trevor Cole, the novelist, about just the journey into publishing. And he just said he was like, don’t give up. These things take their own time.

And sometimes they take longer than you might want them to, but it will happen. You just need to hold on to that. And because that advice came at that particular point in my life when I was waiting for the book to come out, for some reason it struck me more than than it had in the past. Because I had had other people who had said, you know, don’t give up. You have a book out there with your name on it. It just it’ll take some time to get there.

And for some reason arriving as it did, being delivered as it was by Trevor at that point in time, it really had an effect on me. And I think it’s the advice that I give to young writers that I encounter all the time now. Because it really is something that you need to hold on to for yourself. Don’t give up and recognize that the writing is a thing in and of itself as well.

You need to be able to love doing the writing and just love being in this world that you create with your characters over and above, wanting your name on a book. And that is something that is easier said than done at times. But I think for me, they go hand in hand. You don’t give up. And the reason that you don’t give up is because you love the writing so much regardless of whether you get a book or not.

Rachel Thompson:

That was author Amanda Leduc, who is also a wonderful part of the brilliant festival of literary diversity. So when you have the formula to write, publish and shine, do not give up because you love the process. If you have listened thus far, I know this is you. You’re here and ready to persist. And by the way, just by listening, you are connecting to a writing community that will,

I hope, sustain you on those days when persistence feels harder. Finally, I want to get to a core of my belief about writing. And that is that writing is a community full of relationships. And nobody I’ve spoken to over the years has described and modeled this better than my colleague at Room Jessica Johns, who spoke to me when she was managing editor, first starting with the basis of how she thinks about relationships. In particular, in the so-called Canada and can live Canadian literature context.

Jessica Johns:

So the basis of what this what I get to and what I come back to all the time is that treaty is relationship. And Chelsea Vowell talks about this in her book, Indigenous Rights, that this is a paraphrase quote, but she says treaty or relationships aren’t something you sign. And then you just walk away from and never look back on relationships, you continuously return to, you change it depending on what changes in circumstance, changes in anything. You have to be nourishing it and you have to be shifting because relationships are constantly shifting.

And so for me, when I’m thinking about my position now as a managing editor, or whatever position I’ve been in before, I’m thinking about how this relationship is in so many different ways. So how is this my relationship to the staff and volunteers that ensure that room magazine continues to exist because they are the backbone? So how am I supporting them and giving to them so they can give back, meaning have the capacity and have the support to be doing the amazing work that they do.

My relationship to the community, like who we are creating this magazine for and putting on a festival for, how am I being responsible to them? How am I being responsible as a managing editor of a magazine that operates on unseeded stone lands? How am I being responsible to the host nations where we’re operating and like holding events and hold it like we do it everywhere and our contributors are everywhere and our volunteers are everywhere, but like this is where the majority of us are and this is where I am.

So it’s like I’m thinking a lot about my relationship to these lands and the host nations here and again it’s something that is always to be returned to so I might think or I might be like doing something in a particular way and then that might have to be shifted or changed and that also depends on my own labor capacity and abilities. I love doing what I do and I love being in the position that I’m in and thinking about these relationships and these responsibilities and I love doing this work.

This industry is really hard to be in at the end of the day as much love and care that you can give and receive. It’s still living in a world of chemlet where it’s very much still built on white supremacy and heteropatriarchy and capitalism and colonialism and these structures are still very much at play everywhere. So it’s still difficult and at the end of the day I do want to care for myself in a meaningful way. So I have to balance and this is like a long time learning.

Rachel Thompson:

So that was Jessica Johns, an author whose book Bad Cree is on my summer reading list and if you want to join us in reading this summer you can check out as I close this 99th episode. I can’t help but reflect upon and be grateful for all the folks who have been in relationship with me.

This podcast our community in which I include not only writers in my courses and membership but also writers who read and respond to my newsletter writers who listen in here and connect with the ideas we share to help you write, publish, and shine.

Thank you for sticking around so I can have these conversations with luminous writers and editors. It is truly one of my most favorite things to do in case you didn’t notice I am all about deep conversations about craft identity and community. Thank you.

The Write, Publish, and Shine podcast is brought to you by me Rachel Thompson. Sound Editing by Adam Linder, transcripts by Dia Jaffrey. Meli Walker provided production support for this episode.

You can learn more about the work I do to help writers write publish and shine at When you’re there sign up for my writerly love digest I send this every week and it’s filled with support for your writing practice. If this episode encouraged you to write, publish and shine by reading deeply telling truths knowing yourself and all of the good things that we explored in the episode I would love to hear all about it.

You can always email me at tell other luminous writers about the episode you can do this by sending them to the podcast at or searching for write publish and shine wherever they get their podcasts. Thank you for listening.

I encourage you to read like a writer this summer and keep writing and publishing and shining. Thank you again for listening over these 99 episodes and thank you for the opportunity to share what I’m sharing with you. Thank you to the inhabitants of the lands that I’m on.

I’m recording this in the South Sinai Egypt on lands historically and presently inhabited by the El Muzina Bedouin near Palestinian lands occupied and currently bombarded by Israel in clear contravention of international law and orders by the International Court of Justice. Let’s keep up our focus and commitment to the ever growing movement of people and organizations worldwide who condemn the ongoing apartheid and genocide perpetuated by Israel on Palestinian people. Let’s start with the ceasefire now.

Join our game of book club bingo this summer. Learn more and sign up at

Transcript Outline

00:01 Summer book club Bingo game
00:53 Episode Introduction
02:45 Insights from Lit Mag Editors
03:45 Maya’s Advice
08:12 Marjorie’s advice
29:47 Eufemia’s advice
Robin’s advice
Alicia’s advice
Téa’s advice
Genevieve’s advice
45:32 Elizabeth’s advice
Terese’s advice
Emily’s advice
Christine’s advice
Amanda’s advice
Jessica’s advice
Ending words

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