Some members of the Hippocampus staff reflect on 2011 and share what they plan to do better in 2012. What are your goals for this new year? And what did you learn in 2011?
What was your biggest writing/publishing lesson in 2011?
Don’t submit to a magazine you don’t respect. Just because you can get a piece published somewhere doesn’t mean that you should. – Nathan Evans
I learned to take the advice of the tortoise when his “slow-and-steady-wins-the-race” technique got him over the finish line ahead of the hare. As a writer, I just make it my business to learn my craft; to write, revise, submit, get rejected, then submit again. Life isn’t a movie, but this crazy thing we call writing seems to possess a linear progression as long as we stay disciplined and love what we do. – Lori M. Myers
Do not drink more than three cups of coffee if you want to write anything coherent. – Sydney Keniston
I can’t will myself to write what I love every day, but I can write a lot. Badly. Sometimes, that’s enough. – Arina Kharlamova
If you’ve written it, send it out! Your writing won’t go anywhere if you don’t take a risk and submit it. For the first time in years, I sent two pieces out and they were both immediately accepted and published. I know it won’t always happen like that, but what a great start to a new phase in my writing. – Mary-Colleen Jenkins
Rejection isn’t so bad. It’s a learning experience. — Donna Talarico
What was the best thing you read—book, essay, billboard, whatever—this year and why?
The novel Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively. A beautifully clever novel of shifting perspectives and not always sympathetic characters with what could have seemed a disjointed narrative but which knits together with impressive smoothness and has a very sad and affecting story at its core. – Nathan Evans
The best thing I read in 2011 has to be J. Irving’s Cider House Rules. It’s the first thing that comes to mind and the last thing that stays. But because I can’t pick only one thing (I suck at rules), I also have to throw in Anne Michaels’ poetry collection The Weight of Oranges/ Miner’s Pond. It turned my brain into poetic mush in the best way. – Arina Kharlamova
The Report by Jessica F. Kane. It’s a novel that has everything I admire in good writing and that I aspire to, though I’m not a fiction writer. This novel is brief, but beautifully developed. It captures a sense of place, time, and setting in a simple and effective way. I am stunned by how Kane managed to tell a gripping story from the points of view of multiple characters in a such a compact story. I tend to be verbose, so I always respect writing that does so much in so little space. – Mary-Colleen Jenkins
Hands down The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. It was a wonderfully written and researched nonfiction account filled with history and sociology and biology and ethics and relationships–I actually read it as part of the Open Book program at Elizabethtown College, where I work; this book was selected because of its interdisciplinary nature. I was just sucked in to this story and amazed at the detail of research Rebecca did–real research, too–none of that Wikipedia garbage. We’re talking following leads into rundown, dangerous parts of the city and into rural ghost towns. In a college journalism class we watched All the President’s Men — the story of how Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein broke Watergate. Although decades later, Rebecca’s journey really reminded me of the caliber of investigative reporting the Washington Post duo performed. Can you tell I liked this book. Sheesh. I could go on and on. — Donna Talarico
What is your #1 professional goal of 2012?
To make a go of my monthly food column and never forget why I started writing in the first place. – Nathan Evans
Finish writing the book I started, not abandon it like so many past projects, actually stick to this one. – Sydney Keniston
To publish a short story and a poem. I just recently started writing short stories and I need some ego stroking. – Arina Kharlamova
To remember what worked for me last year: taking the time to do the writing. I was on fire when I got two back-to-back publications, but then I remembered what worked with those two essays. I didn’t rush them so I could keep to some sort of submission schedule. I worked on them until they were finished–one took about three months–so I knew they were ready to be sent into the world. The process was more important at the time than the possibility of publication. That frame of mind will help as I begin new work and when I get those inevitable rejections. – Mary-Colleen Jenkins
To put my inspiration into action–putting together Hippocampus takes a lot of time and I too often use that as an excuse as to why I am not writing myself. But I am inspired every single day by our submissions and responses to the published works. It’s time to not just feel inspired, but to do something about it. — Donna Talarico