Friday, June 9, 2017

Six Questions for Patricia Rippe, Editor-in-Chief, Human Noise Journal

Human Noise Journal publishes short stories, essays, and poetry to ten pages, multimedia and cover art. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Patricia Rippe: I started this magazine because I noticed that many journals and magazines aren't in print and don't pay their writers. Print is starting to come back in full force (look at Copper Nickel, finally publishing in print again). I was also finding it difficult to get into the publishing world. There didn't seem to be enough positions for the amount of editors looking for jobs. Since I kept being passed over for jobs by people willing to do it for free or people that had more experience than I did (because they were able to do work for free at some point), I decided to create my own opportunity. I have gotten to know some great authors over the last few years and I figured I could try to get them involved in some way (many will be judging our monthly writing contests).

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

PR: The number one thing I look for in a submission is great writing. It should catch our attention right away. We are looking for work that is unique and fresh. I know that is what all magazines and journals want because no one wants to publish the same old stories and poetry. Honestly, for us at least, it doesn't matter if you have been published in The New Yorker and Three Penny if your pieces are unique. One of the best pieces we have received came from a 40-something year old man who lives in the middle of the bayou in Louisiana who had never been published anywhere else. I could understand why he had been rejected from other places. The story wasn't polished and it was obvious he hadn't ever taken a writing class. His dialect came out through the writing and added to the voice of the narrator, in my opinion. Memorable stories and characters can be more important than perfectly polished work.

The number two aspect is grammar. It doesn't necessarily have to be proper it just needs to be consistent. If misuse is intentional but not consistent, it seems like the writer doesn't understand the rules of grammar. An editor for a literary journal/magazine is more like the editor of an anthology than a novel. We are here to edit the publication not the pieces submitted. We might take a piece that is incredible but has a few typos or grammatical mistakes. The piece has to be really special for that to happen. Take the time to edit all your pieces multiple times, and have someone else read it as well. Nothing looks worse than glaring grammatical mistakes or typos.

Number three is following the submission guidelines. They are created to make the lives of the editors easier. What we ask is usually fairly simple. We can always tell if you read the guidelines or not. The more established magazines and journals won't even look at submissions if they are submitted incorrectly. For me, I won't necessarily turn someone away if they don't submit exactly by our guidelines, but it definitely puts a dark mark on them.

SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?

PR: Centering poems, putting "the end" after a short story, too many cliches, using verbose language that doesn't add anything to the writing, useless dialogue, and odd fonts are some of the things off the top of my head. Unless it creates a certain shape to the poem that adds to the meaning, don't center the poem. That is probably one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to poetry. Putting "the end" after a story is silly. We can tell the story has ended, you don't have to tell us.

SQF: If you could have dinner with three authors (living or dead), who would they be and what is the question you’d like to ask each one?

PR: This is a hard question. I would pick Sylvia Plath, Aphra Behn, and Dostoevsky.  I would ask Plath if it was intentional for her sadness to be such an integral aspect of her writing. I would ask Behn what kept her motivated as a writer even though the rest of the world thought so little of female writers at the time. I would ask Dostoevsky why he would use the large amount of characters in his novels and why they always had similar names.

SQF: What magazines/zines do you read on a ‘regular’ basis?

Normal School, Three Penny, Southern Review, The New Yorker, and Paris Review are probably my top favorites at the moment. I am subscribed to three and the others I read online and purchase issues that I really enjoy. It is important to keep literary journals and magazines alive.

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

PR: That is a tough one because you asked some of the more important questions. I think I would ask the opinion on themes for journals. Personally, I think that themes for journals can be limiting on what they will accept. Which can be fine as some journals and magazines found their niche that way. I personally won't be doing themes. There could possibly be themed issues if I find a theme throughout the submissions but I would never intentionally have a theme for the journal as a whole.

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

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