Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Six Questions for Robert Vaughan, Fiction and Poetry Editor, Lost in Thought

Lost in Thought is a print magazine designed to inspire your imagination. Filled with short stories, poetry, illustrations, and photography from people around the world, we combine text and art to create something entirely new.  Learn more here.

SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?

RV: Writing that moves me, or makes me take notice. An unusual theme or POV, or even setting or character details that inspire or engage me. And the willingness to take risks, with language, word choices, or overall: surprise me!


SQF: What common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a submission?

RV: Might be a generic title, or a lackluster opening line. Also a lack of risk, flat or predictable content, clichés, no surprises or plot twists. The use of just a visual sense, versus employing all five senses. Many submissions I read feel as if they’ve gone unedited; as if the first draft is the submission. Never trust the first draft! Read your work aloud. Get feedback before you submit. Edit EVERYTHING! Give your piece time to simmer. And then edit it again. 


SQF: Will you publish a submission an author posted on a personal blog? 

RV: We do, mostly because Lost in Thought is a print journal only. There is a different reading audience for blogs, and for magazines. I do prefer original submissions, but if I read something that has only been published on a writer’s blog, and I feel it’s a great fit for the magazine, I might make exceptions.


SQF: What do you want authors to know about the submissions you reject and how authors should respond? Along this same idea, do you mind if authors reply with polite questions about the comments they receive?

RV: At Lost in Thought, I work closely with my co-editor, publisher Kyle Schruder. Often Kyle will find the artists first and then we pair them with a writer. So, the art is used as a prompt for the writing it accompanies in the magazine. If I reject a piece, I never send a form rejection. I always feel it is important to address something that is working in the submission, and then point to suggestions for a re-write. I have no qualms about a writer following up with me. I don’t suggest an automatic re-submission with incorporated changes. Sometimes edits have to mature, and writers need to wait. Patience is key. Great writing, like any relationship, needs time to mature.


SQF: What magazines do you read most often?

RV: I am constantly reading so here is a short list: BOMB, The New Yorker, The Sun, Poets & Writers, Tin House, Poetry, Zoetrope, American Poet. Online I read The Rumpus, Smokelong Quarterly, JMWW, PANK, The Nervous Breakdown, Literary Orphans, Metazen, Connotation Press and many more.


SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?

RV: How did you acquire this position as fiction and poetry editor at Lost in Thought

I was published in Lost in Thought #2, when Kyle Schruder was doing it all. And shortly after I got the magazine (which was among my favorite publications to date) I’d heard through the “grapevine” that Kyle was not going to continue, felt overwhelmed, and it was simply too much to handle. We were both members at Fictionaut, an online writing community. Simultaneously, the first magazine for which I’d been the fiction editor, Thunderclap, was going on hiatus. So I sent Kyle a message- would he be interested in a fiction & poetry editor? And the rest, as they say, is history! We’ve published two issues (3 & 4) together, and are getting very close to the release of Lost in Thought, issue 5.

Thanks for this opportunity, Jim! I really appreciate it.


Thank you, Robert. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

NEXT POST: 9/13--Six Questions for Jose Varghese, Chief Editor, Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts

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