Friday, March 8, 2019

Six Questions for Gessy Alvarez, Founder and Editor, Digging Through the Fat

Digging Through the Fat "showcases prose, poetry, and visual arts from emerging and established creative folks throughout the year. We also periodically publish personal essays, interviews, reviews, artworks, and links to published works.

We welcome submissions from ALL. We especially want to encourage more submissions from women and non-binary writers, writers of color, and the LGBTQIA community. " Learn more here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Gessy Alvarez: The magazine evolved from a blog that I created while I was in graduate school. This was the early 2000s, and even though blogs were flourishing on the internet, the literary establishment was still on the fence about online publishing. Grad school was useful because it showed me what I didn't want to become. I wanted to break free from the usual literary avenues and take risks, and the internet offered some freedom. A huge part of writing is failing at writing, so I thought what if I figure out a way to communicate with struggling artists out there and support their creations. In 2010, I established a new blog, Digging Through The Fat: ripping out the heart. In 2013, I began interviewing folks whose writings were featured in online journals. And in 2014, we made our first call for submissions for prose and poetry. We will be debuting the winner of our 2018 chapbook competition, Awabi by Mandy-Suzanne Wong, at AWP 2019. We are also working on a new season of our podcast, Digging Through with Gessy Alvarez.

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

GA: Our contributors come from different backgrounds. Some are established, others emerging. We mean it when we say: "We like experiments and even failures. We relish in the avant-garde. We want to encourage risks and redefine narrative."

Here are our top three things: A high level of commitment to a literary vision, a playful, conscious (or unconscious) use of narrative structures, and a memorable voice.

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

GA: Writing that relies on stereotypes or takes shortcuts through flat characterization. It's always apparent when the writing is self-conscious, inhibited, and/or cliché.

SQF: Many editors list erotica, or sex for sex sake, as hard sells. What are hard sells for your publication?

GA: Nothing is a hard sell if you believe in it. We have to believe that you are giving us your best work. Some editors shy away from work that plays with grammar and structure, or that is graphic, profane, or controversial. All that matters to us is that it's a good story with substantive, artistic intentions. If you employ hateful, derogatory, and offensive language, or demean your characters or readers, your work will not rise to the top.

SQF: If Digging Through the Fat had a theme song, what would it be and why?

GA: Oh gosh, that's a good question. "Suck My Left One" by Bikini Kill comes to mind immediately with "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler a close second. We are inspired by a DIY/punk/feminist aesthetic and the romantic, bombastic courage of marginalized artists from the past.

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

GA: What is one piece of advice you can give?

Don't waste your time looking for answers. Appreciate the ticking clock and live it up.

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

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