In this series of blogs we meet the team who bring you Firewords. Next up is our second in command, Jen. (Interview by Dan Burgess, Editor.)
Jen already gave me a good grilling in my interview, so now is my chance for revenge.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Well, I’m an editor and English teacher, but I find my life outside of work is far more important. This involves many distinct areas of Firewords, as well as travelling regularly and writing; all the things that truly make me who I am. On that note, I am an aunt now and am absolutely loving it! Family, friendship and creativity mean the most to me, that’s for sure.
You’ve had a pretty life-changing year (which people can read about in your previous blog post). How are you feeling now?
I am feeling much better than I did during the summer. It has been a tough year but has given me the opportunity to appreciate all the small things that happen on a daily basis and make life brilliant!
What does being an Associate Editor involve?
Associate Editor involves a variety of tasks for each issue. Not only does it mean reading submissions on a large scale, but it involves copy editing and proofreading these pieces and writing text for Firewords, whether that’s on our own website and newsletters or for other publications. It also means getting in touch with stockists and contributors, and making sure everyone is as happy as possible with the process of creating the magazine!
What have been your highlights since you started this role? Any low points?
A highlight has been seeing the readership grow and grow with each issue. It makes me feel good to know that the contributors, both writers and artists, are being so appreciated and well read. Linked to this, it is always a highlight to talk with contributors and hear how much the whole process is meaning to them. I love it when they tell me about other things that they are doing and how their writing is just growing and growing.
Rejections are always a low point for me. People put so much work into their writing that it is never easy to say they won’t be included. I think that the very worst of these are the pieces which are not being published but which got very close. For every issue, there just isn’t room to publish all the worthwhile pieces we receive so we have to make some difficult decisions. It makes it easier by balancing a rejection with helpful comments that might help their approach in the future; I really hope that writers keep going and don’t take any rejection as a comment on their skill.
How do you feel about judging other people’s writing?
I try not to judge anyone’s writing when I read submissions. Even the best writing can always be improved so I try to give helpful feedback by pointing out these areas. However, I have no doubt that some people will disagree with my comments to them. It is a shame, then, that there are too many submissions to have a more detailed conversation with everyone. I would just like them to know that no one at Firewords is sitting judging them; we are blown away by the effort that people put into their writing.
Ok, so this publishing malarkey is tough!
What is the best advice you can give someone who is considering submitting work to Firewords?
Write your best, submit with confidence, take any feedback in the spirit it is meant and keep writing for years to come.
If you had to choose just one, what has been your favourite piece we’ve published so far?
After five issues, this is an extremely difficult question to answer! I always have a love of the poetry we publish because we are able to see a huge variety of different forms and the creativity that is harnessed here is unbelievable. That said, the same is true of the creativity of our short stories. Straight after my accident I was drawn to the heart-wrenching stories more and more, but towards the end of summer I was hooked on exploring quirky, funny, lovely stories. I have just talked myself out of answering this question. My favourite depends on my mood on any given day.
Any final words?
Tough interview, Dan Burgess. Final words: I love reading submissions for Firewords. There are many good things about working here but this part is by far my favourite. Please keep them coming and keep the smile on my face when I’m blown away by all the skill and imagination out there.
Interview by Dan Burgess, Editor
Check back soon for the next Meet the Team interview, or head to our About page for info about each member of staff.