Interview With Emrys Journal
Author: Lindsey DeLoach Jones
What have you personally gained from working for Emrys? How has this experience changed your perspective of reading literature and impacted your own writing?
Both teaching and editing have given me insight into my own writing that I could never have learned otherwise. Reading through stacks of submissions (or, when teaching, stacks of student papers) alerts me (usually subconsciously) to what I do and do not want to do in my own writing. For example, I have a unique appreciation for how quickly readers get tired of loose, aimless prose, and I have no illusions when I tackle the “big” topics in my own writing (death, birth, illness, etc.) that I’m the first to do it—which forces me to get creative in my approach. And of course the greatest reward for any editor is that occasional transcendent essay or poem that tends to show up just when I’m about to give up reading submissions for the day. I love the pieces I don’t even have to debate—the “stop-everything” ones that have to be accepted immediately. These discoveries are what make the job exciting.
Describe your ideal submission.
I suspect all editors have their “preferences,” and mine probably lean toward language over story (if that’s a fair distinction, which it really isn’t). The language needs to be tight and well-crafted. With essays and stories, I can’t get sold on the narrative if I feel like I’m wasting my time on the language by the second page. When I can tell the writer has paid attention to every word (so, ironically, I don’t have to as a reader), I can really get swept up in the story.
What adjective would you hope would be applied to Emrys?
Who are some of your favorite writers?
I’m an essayist, so I love Richard Rodriguez, Vivian Gornick, Patricia Hampl, Annie Dillard. I have a special place in my heart for “the lost generation,” ex-pats like Fitzgerald and Hemingway. The best book I’ve read recently was All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
What pieces of advice do you have for writers submitting to Emrys?
Don’t send it until it is ready. Every writer has to revise, even the greats. Especially the greats.
What is the next exciting thing happening at Emrys?
All the boxes containing Volume 32 just arrived two days ago, so we’re looking forward to our launch party in a few weeks, where we’ll gather with a few of the contributors to celebrate their good work.