Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Talking with Anthology Editors, Part Two

I thought it would be nice if before we jumped right in with all the questions on editing, we knew a bit more about the histories of these authors/editors. While this is a nice 'getting to know you' bit, it also shows writers that this business isn't a matter of writing a very good piece and having the world come to you. Patience, serendipity, and perseverance play their own roles...

How long you worked at your craft prior to any publication?

Rachel: I've always written, from high school onwards, and wrote for the NYU undergraduate paper when I was in law school there in the late 90’s but didn’t start writing erotica until around 1999, and my first story, “Monica and Me,” was accepted for publication in the anthologies Starf*cker and Best Lesbian Erotica 2001 around that time. And since then it's just been hit or miss, but in the past few years I've upped the output and there have been more acceptances than rejections, but I try to submit to any anthology I can conceivably come up with a story. There are always a few (anything horror or cowboy related, for example) that I just have nothing to contribute to, but I've tried to stretch my writing chops by working on gay male stories and other things I haven’t tried before.

Jewel: I have worked seriously as a writer since 1993. It was almost five years before I had my first publication. I used to joke that I had enough rejection notices to paper my bathroom. Between 1996 and 2000 I did get about 25 publications in at least 15 different journals in 14 different states. Many of the publications since 2000 have been erotic stories.

Susie: I started publishing in an underground slightly notorious high school paper called the Red Tide in 1974. Before that I was in junior high and I guess I just wrote in my diary!

Hanne: The question, for me, is "how long were you regularly writing for publication before you started working at your craft?" And the answer is "about a decade." I never set out to be a writer or an editor, I just enjoyed writing. I have no formal training in writing or editing beyond normal public school education and frankly have never looked to acquire any.

I began to get paid to write for publication in the early 1990s when I decided on a whim to see if I could write an op-ed column in a paper local to where I was living at that time, and not only did they allow me to write one, they encouraged me to write them regularly. In 1999 I was approached about writing my first book based on some 'zines I'd done -- the 'zines were again one of those on-a-whim projects -- and after my first book I decided I liked writing books better than the other things I'd done in my time, so I decided to see if I could make a go of it. That was when I started actually working at being a writer/editor.

When did you feel you had 'arrived' as an author?

Susie: Well, financially, in '84, when I got my first freelance assignments from NY magazines. But in terms of influencing public opinion, the Red Tide, in high school, for sure. I've written as if the whole world was watching since then... not because I had a fat head, but more that pressure to make it professional, newsworthy, make a difference.

Rachel: I don’t know that I'll ever feel I've really "arrived" as an author or editor but each new step brings me a new kind of validation and excitement, but then I'm eyeing the next level of what I want to achieve. So selling that first story was its own high, then co-editing my first anthology, Up All Night, then being asked to write a column for The Village Voice. Right now what I'm most proudest of is finding my fabulous agent, Lori Perkins, and getting a two novel deal with Bantam. After so long working "in the trenches" as it were and often getting paid nothing writing for webzines and the like, it feels like a huge step to being writing for a major publisher, though I'm proud of the work I’ve done with small presses and especially excited about Naughty Spanking Stories 2, Caught Looking, He’s on Top, and She’s on Top, my latest anthologies.

When did you feel you had 'arrived' as an editor?

Susie: Again, there's this split between the moneymaking career and my sense of "I know what I'm doing." My first paid editorial work was the Herotica series. But my work on the Red Tide, many many small press journals, and then On Our Backs, all were big responsibilities.

Both Hanne and Jewel addressed the two questions regarding 'arrival' as one topic.

Jewel, ever the teacher, wrote, "As both an author and editor I have not arrived. Any writer or editor who thinks s/he has 'arrived' stagnates. We are always developing new skills."

Hanne views 'arrival' as irrelevant to the way she perceives her own career; a reminder that success is a very subjective thing.

For complete bios, read Talking with Anthology Editors, Part One.

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