SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
Katherine Mayfield: First of all, we look for quality writing. Most often, this means the writer has done some rewriting with attention to details like grammar and spelling, and worked to focus the storyline. Newer writers often don't know that the "craft" of writing is different from the "art," in that a writer may be highly inspired to quickly write a story or poem, but "craft" must come into the rewriting process to tighten and focus the text and make the read more compelling. A well-edited piece is always appreciated!
Second, we look for a sense of heart and soul in a piece—that it moves readers in some way, whether emotionally, intellectually, or by offering insight into their own life experience.
And we love gutsy writing—a piece in which a writer expresses a deep inner life experience or uncovers a truth that most people deny. I believe that writers are meant to be truth-tellers. There are so many others denying what we all know to be true under the surface, or not talking about very important issues in the human experience of life.
SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?
KM: Gratuitous violence; run-on sentences; multiple paragraphs of exposition at the beginning (this is where craft comes in); heavy-handed use of four-letter words; numerous typos and inconsistencies.
SQF: Are submissions limited to Maine authors?
KM: Absolutely not! Our inaugural issue featured Maine authors, but subsequent issues have included writers from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Oregon, California, Massachusetts, Illinois, Virginia, Washington, Minnesota, and Turkey. We love reading work from writers everywhere!
SQF: Who are some of your favorite authors?
KM: Anne Lamott, Natalie Goldberg, Dave Barry, David Sedaris, Jonathan Lethem, Richard North Patterson, Nicholas Sparks, Shakespeare.
SQF: If The Maine Review had a theme song, what would it be?
Tim Janis: Reflections
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
KM: What do you love most about editing the Maine Review?
The best part is discovering a jewel of a piece by an unknown or nearly unknown writer, which happened several times in our last contest. I also enjoy the process of creating a flow in each issue, of finding connections between pieces that provide a sort of “journey of feeling” for the reader. Our Fall issue begins with some excellent poetry, some humor, and a heartwarming story, and eventually segues into pieces about aging and Alzheimer’s, before moving into a different tone and style. I love putting the issues together—it's like creating a jigsaw puzzle of writing.
Thank you, Katherine. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
NEXT POST: 3/27—Six Questions for Jordan Webb, Editor, Tryst