A Word Of Advice

    In the publishing world, any amount of wisdom from one writer to another is beneficial and can offer a new approach to amateur writers like myself. Recently I was able to listen to the advice and stories of some professors at the University of Central Arkansas. Like most writers, each professor has a different way of getting their work in the literary world, as well as a certain flame that sparks their motivation to pursue their ambition as a writer.

     First up in the video interview was Robin Becker. This quirky professor not only has a book coming out in May called Brains, but she has also written a collection of short stories centered around theme parks. Talk about versatile. But even after her publishing success, Becker believes that publishing still has its hurdles, and a fair share of inevitable rejection. Becker was not hindered by rejects however, and instead she kept her eyes open in the Writer’s Market paper for possible articles and short stories she could send. What’s her advice for undergraduate writing entrepreneurs? Write. It's such a simple concept, yet so easy to neglect (especially as a college student).
     Our undergraduate years allow time for growth in our writing and knowledge about publishing, as our second professor, Mark Spitzer, concurred since he did not get serious about publishing until graduate school. Spitzer has book and publishing poetry under his belt, and manages to send out submissions but tweaking his cover letter to different editors of literary magazines. Spitzer believes that editors are interested in active writers; therefore one shouldn’t get hung up on one project. If it’s been several years since you’ve touched that last novel, why not start something new? Writer’s block has a cure.  All it takes is a little time, inspiration, and keeping everything in perspective.

     Unlike the previous two professors, Gary Powell’s attitude on the publishing world can be described as a bit more pessimistic, but nonetheless his opinions are a reality check of how difficult it is to become established in the literary business. Dr. Powell whole heartedly believes that personal contacts help, which is the very way he got in contact with his agent. After numerous of submission rejections, Powell feels short story collections are not selling unless by famous authors, and that a lot of writers have fallen between not being commercial enough for novels but not quirky enough for literary magazines. In response to that belief, I think Powell needs to reassure himself that novels and literary magazines like all art can go through phases of what’s popular or “selling” and the publishing industry will undoubtedly take note since they are looking for what will bring in the most profits. I think that authors do not need to take it personal if their work is not what’s current and try to change their style to see what will sell, but instead be patient for the right time for publishing. Besides, if a work is written well enough and is interesting, I believe it can break trends and intrigue readers.
     The final interviewee was John Vanderslice whose has a systematic approach to sending out to literary magazines is something to take note of. Vanderslice does his research before sending anything out to a journal, such as finding out what the journal is like, who the editor is, and of course their submission guidelines. All four of the UCA professors believed simultaneous submissions should be sought after, and Vanderslice follows this belief by sending out five to six submissions at a time. In order to keep up with all these submissions, Vanderslice keeps records with information about the date, time lapse, and magazine information. And what’s Vanderslice’s secret to continue writing and submitting his work? Persistence and a fearless attitude.

     Whether you have a zealous passion , methodical, or slightly cynical belief of writing and your future in it, one thing is certain and that is to find what ignites your will to write and create your own path in doing so. In my following years as an undergraduate student, I hope to write to my heart’s content, leave a critical eye open for what market I might belong in, and be inspired by everything around me, while also listening to words of experience to fellow writers around me. 

erica lewis

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