“I think anything that’s written about well can be interesting.”—Shashi Bhat, EVENT
This is a special replay episode—my very first podcast episode. I’m re-releasing this conversation with Shashi Bhat who was when we spoke and is still now Editor at EVENT magazine.
This being the first episode, was very apropos for my personal writing life; EVENT was my very first poetry publication—my work was selected by then editor, Billeh Nickerson.
As I head into a summer break that will include a lot of time for my own writing, and hit pause on the Write, Publish, and Shine podcast, I want to share Shashi’s message that no subject is off limits and her urge for you to find your original take.
You can also listen and experience someone doing something for the first time! My early-interviewing skills are a little wobbly, and I offer this up wondering if you might feel inspired to try something new in writing or other creative pursuits. As the podcast goes on an extended break, I’ll leave with that as a challenge to do something imperfectly the first time. I know I’ve benefited from the decision to go ahead with many creative things, this podcast included.
So, with that in mind, here is my conversation with Shashi Bhat, Editor of EVENT.
This episode is brought to you by the Mom Egg Review. Submissions to their “Mother Figures” issue closes on July 15.
Links and Resources from this Episode:
- EVENT EventMagazine.ca
- Shashi Bhat, Editor ShashiBhat.com
Sign up for my Writerly Love Letters sent every-other Thursday and filled with support for your writing practice at rachelthompson.co/letters
Thanks so much for being here and for being my first interview. And in fact, EVENT is also the first publication that published my own writing. So it is very apropos. Yes. My first question I just want to get to know you the editor a bit more so I wanted to find out how did you first fall in love with writing and with books.
It’s hard to remember the first I fell in love with books, I feel like I’ve just always been a reader. I was a pretty quiet kid, naturally quiet kids just read a lot, and are expected to read a lot maybe. I do remember when I started to appreciate writing more as an art. I remember reading this collection called 21 Great Stories and it had like a lot of the classic stories, you know, The Tell-Tale Heart, that sort of thing. And one of the stories was Luigi Pirandello’s war. It’s just a tiny story with a bunch of people who meet on a train and they’re talking about the war and their losses in the war and I just feel like that was the first time I realized that writingwas an art and that it took skill to accomplish and I think that’s where I first really started to fall in love with it.
Wonderful and when was that? Do you remember what year or where you were at that time?
Maybe like the third or fourth grade probably.
Rachel Thompson So early on.
Yeah definitely in elementary school at some point. And yeah I was a kid who spent a lot of time at the library so…
I could definitely relate to that. So what made you realize you were a writer then. Is that when the realization happened as well?
Shashi Bhat I was always writing definitely I don’t think I thought of myself as a writer until probably I was in grad school for writing.
Like in undergrad I was premed and that was something my family had always led me towards I guess having Indian parents. They wanted me to be a doctor really badly so I was premed, I was applying to med school, and while I was working on my personal essay for medical school I realized that it was way more into working on the essay and I actually like any of the stuff I would actually be doing at medical school. So I changed directions pretty abruptly and applied to MFA in creative writing programs instead. That’s pretty much when the decision was made.
Rachel Thompson Nice. And you also moved for the love of a lit mag, that’s for EVENT. You moved to New Westminster and you didn’t know a soul, as you wrote on your blog at the time. Has this love ever disappointed you and was it worth it?
Shashi Bhat I wouldn’t say it’s disappointed me and it’s not the first time I moved for work either. I think it’s something you kind of have to do if you want to pursue a career in writing and publishing. I definitely made some sacrifices leaving behind people and relationships too. But for me, it was zotally worth it. Like I love my job, I love working in literary magazines. It’s fulfilling in a way that no other job has been. It kind of reminds me of when I was in school I always loved my extracurriculars and spent all my time on my extracurriculars and that’s kind of what working on a literary magazine feels like it doesn’t always feel like a job even.
Rachel: [00:05:25] Oh that’s wonderful. So it really is true Lit Mag Love. Yeah (Shashi). Ummm, I’m wondering if you remember, do you remember the first writer you met in “real life” and what was that like?
Shashi Bhat Yeah I think I didn’t value it for the experience it was at the time. In undergrad, we all had to take like a first-year writing seminar and I took one, I think it was in personal narrative writing or something like that and my instructor was his name was Ogaga Ifowodo. He was a Nigerian lawyer and activist and had actually been imprisoned for writing political poetry. I never knew any of this at the time, he was just like my, you know, my instructor who was criticizing my essay. But reading about him after I was kind of amazed. Even now I feel like I should go order his book or something because I didn’t appreciate it at the time.
Rachel Thompson Wow, what an amazing first writer to meet. So you mentioned that you came to be an editor by way of premed, came to be a writer, I guess, let’s say–you did your MFA. How did you come to actually be an editor, and related to that, what qualities do you think are required to be an editor that are different from reading or writing?
Shashi Bhat Editing-wise I guess in school I had always edited the yearbook, or like the school arts magazine or whatever. And I always just liked editorial work and not just the editing itself but like doing layout design and marketing. I love how many different kinds of things you get to work with, the different experiences you get. So when I saw the EVENT job pop up it just seemed to require all of the skills that I was really interested in using. And until then I just pretty much been teaching creative writing for work. I think in terms of qualities that editing requires that reading and writing aren’t don’t, a big one is diplomacy, feel like working with writers and I think teaching has helped me a lot with that. Anything writing too in the sense that maybe I’m more sensitive to writers because I’m also a writer. I guess I’m ummm reading a piece in a really it’s a different kind of reading when you’re editing, you’re reading more into attentively and you have to read it over and over again in like different ways whether you’re looking for an artistic concerns or you’re just proofreading. So yeah I think it just requires a kind of attention that writing and just reading for fun don’t really require.
Rachel Thompson That makes sense, so when you talk about diplomacy do you mean being able to broach difficult changes maybe within a piece or…
Shashi Bhat Yeah. And when I first started, I think one of the first poets I had to send edits to was George Elliott Clarke. And I was like who am I to be sending edits to George Elliott Clarke?
Rachel Thompson Oh my god.
Shashi Bhat That intimidated me at first until I realized that it’s really just a process where, you know, both you and the writer are just trying to get a work to the best place that it can. You’re working with them, you’re not criticizing them or anything like that. At EVENT I wouldn’t say we make or suggest really drastic changes either. When we accept a piece it’s usually pretty close to being finished already so most of the time it’s more kind of proofreading and copyediting and that sort of thing.
Rachel Thompson So when you were finishing and publishing your novel you were obviously doing a lot of copy edits too. And on the other side, you’re the writer in that case. Did that change because you, by that point, you were already working as an editor right?
Shashi Bhat When I was working on my novel…No, I think I’d finished it before I started working really.
Rachel Thompson OK. So it would have informed you in a different sense to get you ready for the for the work as an editor.
Shashi Bhat Yeah, well knowing I guess how much work goes into writing a novel adds to that sensitivity towards writers and the seeing like how much editing goes into a work before it’s published maybe. And working with an editor myself on my novel I guess I saw what kinds of feedback an editor can give that’s helpful to the writer.
Rachel Thompson Definitely. That’s such a valuable experience. I had the same experience working on my book as well. And that ended up informing how I approach editing today, and sort of like a pay it forward kind of experience, I feel like. There is such generosity given at some point.
Shashi Bhat Yeah it really depends on who the editor is that you work with too. Like, I’m curious what your experience was like how involved they were. Because it seems to vary a lot from editor to editor.
Rachel Thompson It definitely does, yeah. I had worked with Stan Dragland at Banff beforehand so that’s who I’m thinking of in particular who just gave such attention to my, to my pieces that I loved it.
Shashi Bhat Yeah actually I just had a story in the Malahat Review and I thought John Barton was an amazing editor like just the kinds of nuance he had in his questions really made me think about how I would respond to other people’s work
Rachel Thompson Nice, nice. It’s so great learning from other lit mags and I want to bring you back to the very first publication you had which was in Missouri Review. But what was it like that experience of first being published, and then you know, how did you get turned on to lit mags in general as a place to publish your writing before publishing a novel or short stories I know that you’re working on now too.
Shashi Bhat Yeah well it was an incredibly exciting having a story accepted anywhere really. I was doing my MFA in fiction at the time so it was a relief even to just have anything published—it meant that I hadn’t just thrown my life away by getting an MFA. I remember too there was this weird competition between people in my fiction workshop like who was going to get published first. And like over the summer everyone returned and like suddenly everyone had publications so this weird competitive environment.
Rachel Thompson And doesn’t that seem odd now when you just realize how really random and chance-based being published in the journal can be too?
Shashi Bhat Yeah like now I think of writing more as like you know, there’s a writing community and I feel like people are pretty supportive of each other. But at the time it really felt like intense. I guess the question about how I started or became interested in literary magazines, I was always drawn to short stories, writing short stories more than novels so publishing and literary magazines just kind of made sense. And I guess I never thought of literary magazines as, like some people seem to view it, the stepping stone to publishing a book. I never really saw it that way. Like I just really like publishing in literary magazines because you can publish before you have a book-length work finished. You can experiment a little more without having to commit to a longer work. Yeah, then once I was in grad school I just started reading a lot more literary magazines so I guess that’s when it when I realized it was an option even to to have work published their there.
Rachel Thompson And I guess you were joining in the competition too.
Shashi Bhat Right.
Rachel Thompson I’m wondering if you still learn about writing from reading submissions. Is that something that you find is still informing your own writing?
Shashi Bhat Yeah I would say so. Particularly with poetry because I’ve never really been a poet and only recently have started writing more poetry of my own. I feel like I’m still understanding the limits of what you can get away from with in poetry. So I love seeing like poems submissions where the writers are really experimenting. It just kind of gives me inspiration for my writing. Like for example, one of the first poems I read when I, when I first started was an Elissa Watsky poem…trying to remember…what’s it called… “Overnights at the Hospital”. And it’s one I teach in my class now that the whole thing is just like a list of places where the speaker has slept–like I’ve slept here, slept here, I’ve slept here. And the last three lines of the poem say something like ‘not in the chair beside my father’s bed, this is what it feels like to be awake’. It just like blew my mind that the whole poem is this list and you don’t see that twist of an ending and coming. And like she’s a fairly new poet from what I understand and that still really surprised me. I’m definitely still, you know, surprised by things every day and I’m learning things from the writing.
Rachel Thompson OK. When we first talked about lit mags a couple years ago you told me that “publishing and literary journals as is the street credit that shows agents and editors you’re serious”. And so I’m just wondering what you think about the area of self publishing and the greater question here might even be are we still relevant–you know, do lit mags still matter?
Shashi Bhat I guess I always think of self publishing as just its own category. Like there’s no traditional publishing and self publishing and I don’t know if it was the way I see those categories hasn’t changed too much. I think your choice of which one of those to pursue just really depends on what your goals are as a writer. Like how much creative input you want; how much control you want to keep; what kind of audience you want to reach. So I do think literary magazines are still very much relevant, particularly for writers who want to go the traditional route. One of the great things about literary magazines is it they open up opportunities to be published and anthologies like things like Best Canadian stories, or best Canadian essays or to be eligible for prizes like National Magazine Awards or the Journey Prize. So reaching those like bigger audiences are like having access to that kind of CanLit world if you like, literary magazines can open the doors in a way. And I do think it still looks great when you are trying to acquire an agent or an editor and you can tell them. I’ve been published in Room or the Malahat them and so on, and they can see that you’ve kind of like done your work in the trenches before you’re trying to publish your novel or what have you.
Rachel Thompson Yeah like you’ve cut your teeth and you have experience working with an editor.
Shashi Bhat Yeah and that you’re a professional in some ways I guess like you’ve been diligent about submitting your stuff. I think that that counts for something.
Rachel Thompson Yeah, you’re, you’re going to show up you’re ready to be seen in your writing, too.
So I know the first readers at EVENT are volunteers and they’re typically students. Is that correct?
Shashi Bhat Yep–yeah.
Rachel Thompson And They end up, so the process as far as I understand is, they do the first reading of submissions, and then they send the yeses and maybes to one of your editors, who then select the top ones to be sent to discuss depending on their genre. So, you and the poetry editor meet together, and you have a fiction board. Do you want to tell us a little bit about the meetings and maybe any recent battles that you’ve had over pieces?
Let’s see…I guess the fiction meetings I can talk about they tend to be pretty interesting. So there are four of us on the fiction committee it’s me, our managing editor, our fiction editor, and then there’s the reviews editor is also on that committee. We meet over lunch, which makes it a lot more pleasant. We usually discuss like four or five stories at a meeting. We read them in advance and we each prepare our comments on them and we put them in categories so it’s strong publish, weak publish, weak reject, and then strong reject. And some people are on the fence. But then other people get irritated about that. But we go around the table and each person shares their opinion on a particular story and then we open it up to discussion. We can see where we all stand on the story. Most of the time I would say we agree on whether to accept a story or not but like I remember our last fiction meeting, every story we were split half and half on it. And sometimes it’s just a matter of personal preference or like a matter of one person might prioritize the quality of the prose over, like, how organic the plot is for example. So it can lead to some really interesting discussions. Let’s see recent huddles we’ve had over pieces… I can’t think of one where we were really torn. There is a category that’s rarely used: ‘Not over my dead body’, when you really, there’s a story you really don’t want to have accepted. And there’s only one time I can think of that I categorized a story that way. Yeah but those can be a little bit controversial, I guess.
Rachel Thompson And what was the reason–was is that it was a controversial piece or?…
Shashi Bhat I guess the piece itself wasn’t controversial but it had some content in it involving abuse and it wasn’t, it wasn’t like abuse isn’t a topic we could publish, but the way it depicted it felt kind of like it was sensationalizing, or it was gratuitous in a way and that bothered me a lot. So yeah, that wasn’t one I would have wanted to publish but I don’t think the other people on our committee were really arguing against that either. So yeah…
Rachel Thompson It wasn’t on the “must publish list”.
Shashi Bhat No.
Tell me what event is looking for in submissions. From logistics to the quality, to the forms, whether you’re looking for more experimental work or not…
Shashi Bhat So we accept submissions and in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. We don’t have a particular genre or type of work that we’re looking for. It’s more just we’re looking for quality and we’re looking to be surprised with fiction. We’re always just kind of looking for compelling plots, well-drawn characters, polished prose. And I personally am always just looking to be moved by a story, like if it affects me emotionally that’s a definite plus. Same thing with poetry. I think we like poet poems that don’t take themselves too seriously, yeah that are trying too hard. I lean towards narrative poems but we publish really all kinds of poetry. We’re looking for arresting images and again just emotional impact. Nonfiction we get most of our nonfiction submissions through our annual contests. We hold it once a year and we have two or three winners each year. But then we also consider all of the submissions for publications so that’s where most of nonfiction comes from. And we’ve also started accepting online submissions just within the past year. We switched to Submittable so everything can be submitted online.
Rachel Thompson So what kind of writing do you personally want to see more of, and what would you rather not see again? I take it, not sensational abuse stories—obviously!
Shashi Bhat Yeah.
Rachel Thompson But what else would you rather not see for a long time?
Shashi Bhat I think that’s the only category of work I would rather not see. There’s no real topic that I would like to outlaw or anything like that because I think anything that’s written about well can be interesting. I’d love to see more risk-taking. Magic realism is a category that we don’t see a lot of, that I’m always a fan of. We’re actually holding this contest in the upcoming months called the ‘Let Down Your Hair Contest’ and it’s going to be for speculative writing and either fiction or poetry. So just short work that uses sci-fi or fantasy or otherworldly elements. So that’s something I definitely would love to see more of them we’re even encouraging it more in the form of a contest.
Rachel Thompson I love the name Let Down Your Hair, that’s great.
Shashi Bhat Yeah that was the idea of JJ Lee who’s one of our advisory board members.
Rachel Thompson Awww, nice. So what should a writer expect from EVENT? Let’s say their work is accepted; they’ve made the cut. You know, they’ve submitted fiction or poetry and you’ve said yes. Do you make developmental suggestions on pieces or are you mainly doing copy edits?
Shashi Bhat We usually don’t do a lot of developmental suggestions. Usually, when we accept the work it only needs like minor edits. There are exceptions like recently we accepted a story where the idea was just so great. The premise was so haunting, it really sticks in your head, and none of us could really let go of the story even though we did have concerns where there were a couple of logical questions. And it’s like the prose needed a little bit of work. So we accepted it conditionally and that’s one where I’ll be working with a writer and doing a little more back and forth than we usually do. But that’s really rare.
I think it’s just because the quality of the submissions is so high that we don’t normally need to accept stories that need more work. So yeah when a piece is accepted it’ll go through one copy editing phase where we might write to the writer and have questions on like, you know, why does this happen at this point, and maybe this could be moved but it’s usually pretty minor. And that’ll go through a proofreading phase. And that’s pretty much it.
Rachel Thompson And so the piece that you are working on a bit more substantively…are you like you’re lopping off the ending, or are you doing like a bigger overhaul throughout the piece, or can you tell us a bit more but the type of changes you suggesting?
Shashi Bhat Yeah, so what is like I guess I would call it a language overhaul. It just had some maybe like second-second language errors. And like yeah those are more like I guess errors of the line level. But then there were also some questions about character motivations that we couldn’t understand or felt like it needed a little more explanation but the story as a whole was so great and so original that it was worth it to us to figure out those concerns.
Rachel Thompson That’s so exciting when a piece is so strong in spite of some of the weaknesses that you want it.
Shashi Bhat And it was by an emerging writer so it’s always nice to kind of like have that opportunity to encourage someone who’s at that stage of their career. Yeah.
Rachel Thompson So talking about submissions generally, what proportion would you say could be published an event if you had all the space and all the time in the world? Of the submissions how much are at a quality, I guess, where you don’t need to do that developmental work. And they’re, you know, almost ready to go. You just need to do line edits and copyediting and proofreading.
Shashi Bhat It’s probably changed since we started taking online submissions because we get so many more submissions now.
But I would say it’s still probably under 5 percent. Which sounds really low and they I don’t want to be discouraging to writers. I think it’s more that like a lot of people submit works that aren’t quite finished yet. So the work that is really polished just kind of rises to the top and yeah, probably is still a pretty small percentage.
Rachel Thompson Yeah. So then you would say you publish maybe 3 percent but only 5 percent is ready to go?
Shashi Bhat Yeah yeah–definitely.
Rachel Thompson Nice. And so yeah I guess that leads to 2 percent and that’s what I was saying before when you were talking about grad school we’re so competitive to where it kind of becomes a bit arbitrary at that point when there’s really good quality work and you only have room for that three out of five.
Shashi Bhat Yeah because then it becomes a decision based on, you know, sometimes subject matter like maybe you have three stories about domestic dramas so you don’t want to take the fourth one. So there are no reasons you might reject writing that isn’t based on the quality of the writing.
Rachel Thompson And you mentioned that a lot of people submit pieces that maybe just aren’t quite ready yet that needed to go through another. What clues you into that or what are the more common mistakes that you see in submissions?
Shashi Bhat It’s mostly just like sloppy writing at a line level.
Shashi Bhat It looks like it hasn’t been edited carefully and that’s kind of a red flag I guess because if there are issues at that level, then you wonder like what deeper issue does the story have. I guess. The other thing is just if a story lacks originality. That’s a mark against it.
Rachel Thompson Yeah and originality just in writing you’re seeing generally or you mean something you haven’t recently published an event in EVENT?
Shashi Bhat Well it could be originality and like subject matter, or voice, or maybe like the way the events turn out is somewhat predictable. So it can really be in anything, I would say.
Rachel Thompson And when we spoke before, the very first time we spoke, was an interview for Lit Mag Love on Room Magazine, on their website. And we both were talking about the stories about North Americans in their 20s feeling emotionally lost while travelling in other countries, and it was just an interesting note and I’ve spoken to other lit mag editors since then and it doesn’t seem to be as common for all magazines. It doesn’t seem to be a common story that all magazines receive but it’s one that Room an EVENT does receive. Why that is, I’m not sure. But I guess we also can both, I can anyway and I think you’ve mentioned before I think of pieces that we published recently that we’re actually in this vein is. Sometimes I wonder is it more that new or less experienced writers tend to fall upon the subject and those newer writers are submitting to us. Or is the trope really one that’s overdone?
Shashi Bhat Hmm..yeah, I think it can definitely be done well still. I mean, I don’t know if there are any topics that haven’t been written about. So yeah we definitely have published–like one of my favourite stories in EVENT was one of the stories about a twentysomething traveller. I wonder if maybe just a lot of people have that experience and that’s why everyone’s writing about it?
Rachel Thompson Something wakes up the writer in them as they’re travelling, I guess. Or They just have time to write finally when they’re travelling is what I was thinking about.
Shashi Bhat Oh, that makes sense.
Yeah it might be just like that age like when you’re in your mid-20s you suddenly have the money to travel. Yeah, I mean I’ve had that experience. I haven’t written about it but that’s probably just because I’ve seen all the stories about it already.
Rachel Thompson Yeah, same, I definitely have stories I could tell, and I think yeah I’ve seen so many of these already and I don’t need to write another one.
Shashi Bhat Yeah.
Rachel Thompson So I want to shift gears a bit and talk about diversity and ways of addressing that within the lit mag community because it’s a bit of a buzzword right now but it also, you know, represents a truly urgent need to make sure more perspectives and voices are reflected in literature, in Canada and the world. And I’m wondering we talked about this a little bit before, and I’d love to hear–you know, hear what you told me before again but also any-anything that you might have done in the interim in terms of steps that EVENT is taking to let writers of all backgrounds know that their work is welcome and will be considered and published in the journal.
Shashi Bhat There are a few things we do. For example during the times when we solicit work we have notes on writing issue every year where we publish reflections by writers on their writing lives. And for that I contact four or five writers and ask them to submit pieces. Sometimes our poetry editor also solicits work or just asks certain writers to submit. And when we do those sorts of things we always look for a diverse group of writers to ask. I think it probably helps too that while we’re choosing works for the issue we try to choose work that reflects the diverse makeup of readers we have and we try to cover a broad range of even like character voices or stories that are set in a variety of places. So people reading it or writer’s reading it can see themselves reflected in it and hopefully that helps them know that their work is welcome. As our staff too, we try to have a diverse staff or when we can we have women–I mean I’m a woman of colour and on our advisory board we have women of colour. Our poetry editors is Joanne Arnett who’s an Aboriginal writer and with her help and we work at Douglas College and they have an Aboriginal Student Services office so we’ve been working with them and started putting together this annual event called Aboriginal Voices which is an evening of poetry and prose where we feature a bunch of different local Aboriginal writers reading their work. We invite community members and we also invite those writers to submit work to EVENT. So I guess in those sorts of like different ways we try to reach out to community members and show them that we-we are looking for a broad range of voices for the magazine.
Rachel Thompson Yeah that’s wonderful. Through that program through the festival or but also just generally, can you tell me a bit about what writers you’ve discovered through EVENT and who you continue to read today?
Shashi Bhat Sure Doretta Lau is a big one. EVENT had published her work before I came on. She was a Journey Prize finalist for her story which became the title story of her collection: How Does A Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun.
Rachel Thompson I love that book.
Shashi Bhat So good, yeah that was a book I probably wouldn’t have known about if it hadn’t been for EVENT and I just loved it and recommended it to everyone after I read it. There are also a lot of new writers who don’t have books yet that I’ve just discovered through EVENT and now just kind of keep an eye out for their work
Rachel Thompson Isn’t it just wonderful, you get to know them before they’re even well-known and you know they’re going gonna be stars at some point too.
Shashi Bhat Yeah, it’s like an insiders scoop.
Rachel Thompson Do you want to talk a little bit about the piece that you selected and why you published it and why you selected it for the podcast?
Shashi Bhat Sure the piece is called Bacchanalia. It’s by Marcia Walker. It was published in EVENT 45-2, and coincidentally it is one of those stories about 20-something North American travelling and discovering herself in a way.
Rachel Thompson Of course, of course.
Shashi Bhat I really love this story. So that the narrator is travelling, she’s in London first but then she kind of starts to wander and ends up lost, runs out of money. And then she is in a campsite in Greece and meets these three other travelers who, they have their own sort of mini theatre troop except they don’t perform for other people, they only perform for themselves. And they say it so they can find the truth which is kind of funny and interesting. And so she falls in with them and finds belonging in a way but she’s quite a lost character. And I guess that is the trope. But then things get thrown up in the air, I don’t want to give away the ending, but things change in a really interesting way and really poignant way to I think. The ending is kind of a lump in your throat ending that stays in your head too. What I like about this story is it’s really palpable in how lost this character is. But she’s also really likable in her lostness and it’s-it’s quite an imaginative story and even though it is about the last 20-something-year-old it’s not like a brooding story, it’s a really lively and fun story at the same time.
Rachel Thompson What I love as just hearing your enthusiasm for the story too. But it’s one that you really enjoyed reading and publishing too. That’s great. So before we wrap up I just wanted to ask you a couple more things. So one, is it possible for writers who want to get involved behind the scenes of EVENT to do so and how would they do that?
Shashi Bhat It’s definitely possible. We have volunteers as first readers and also sometimes we take on volunteers to do things like help with organizing submissions or with social media pages and things like that. And to get in touch with us if you’re interested in volunteering you would just go to our Web site eventmagazine.ca. And under that just the contact tab, so if you go under there it has all the details on how to contact us. We usually also offer unpaid internship per year, it just depends on funding. If you check into our website we post opportunities there too.
Rachel Thompson Great, and then the other question is just how can writers submit their work, how often do you have specific reading periods? And then I want to emphasize too that it is writers from all over the world who can submit and publish too, right?
Shashi Bhat Yeah. So right now we accept work only online through Submittable. If you go to the EVENT website there’s a link to submit. And, yeah, all the work is collected there.
Rachel Thompson So people can find out more on eventmagazine.ca Well thank you Shashi so much for being here today and for being my inaugural interview. It was just wonderful to have the opportunity to talk to you and hear about your journey towards becoming an editor but also your enthusiasm for-for publishing the written word is great.
Shashi Bhat Yeah, likewise–lovely to talk to you and thanks for having me.
Rachel Thompson So, that was my first podcast interview, with Shashi Bhat, Editor of EVENT.
Still true as it was when we spoke a few years ago, EVENT publishes in print three times per year. They publish fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and reviews. And they do pay for submissions.
Another thing I’ll note about EVENT that they offer that’s kind of cool is a reading service for writers. So if you’re looking for someone to give you a really good read of your writing, they will take a piece and they will do an assessment of about 700 to a 1000 words that detail the strengths and weaknesses and provides recommendations for revision. And everything that you actually send to the reading service is also considered for publication.
A good takeaway from this conversation, I believe, is you want to copy edit and proofread your work! Mistakes at that level signal to her, that in fact there may be problems at the developmental level with the submission. This is something writers ask me all the time, Does it need to be perfect before I send it in? It definitely needs to have been copy-edited and proofread several times.
I love that Shashi says no subjects are off limits but to try for an original take on some of the more familiar subjects. I loved how the example piece she spoke about in this episode is an example of this—the twentysomething traveller story that we’ve seen a lot of, yet it had an original take on it.
The Write, Publish, and Shine podcast is brought to you by me, Rachel Thompson. You can learn more about the work I do to help writers, write, publish, and shine at rachelthompson.co. When you’re there, sign up for my Writerly Love letters, sent every-other Thursday and filled with support for your writing practice.
If this episode encouraged you to try for an original take or do something imperfectly, I would love to hear from you. You can tag me on social media: rachelthompson Twitter or @rachelthompsonauthor IG.
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Thank you for listening—I encourage you to keep rising to the challenge and writing luminously this summer.
I will return with new episodes in September.
Shashi Bhat spoke to me from the traditional unceded territory of the QayQayt First Nation and the Kwikwetlem First Nation aka New Westminster BC and I was recording while a guest on the traditional territories of the Kanien’kehá:ka, and the Anishinabeg peoples in what is colonially known as Montreal, Quebec.