Claps & Cheers: ¡Viva la Hustle!

by Ramona Pilar

Claps and Cheers is a column dedicated to honoring pioneers and visionary storytellers who have forged their own path in their creative careers.

Leaving a solid, creative job, with fantastic health care and retirement plans to found your own creative business with no template is frightening. Not having a creative precursor on either side of one’s family, pursuing low-paying, artistic gigs with no long-term health or retirement benefits can be a hard sell both to family, friends, and especially to one’s self. I find myself in the throes of this conundrum and I know I’m not alone.

I have been fortunate enough and hashtag blessed to have found myself in the company of a community of creative hustlers who are eking out their own path in service of creating a life that serves both personal and professional needs.

I met Michelle Zamora when she was an undergrad at Cal State Los Angeles. She moved from Brownsville Texas in 2000 to study acting. We were both working on a theatre project with my roommate at the time (Selene Santiago), who was in graduate school at CSULA.

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Highlight on WWS-Pittsburgh: An Interview with Chapter Lead, Jenny Ruth

How would you describe your city and your local literary community?

Pittsburgh is a literary destination! Historically the poster child for America’s industrial revolution, we’re reinventing ourselves through an economy with education at its core. We nurture an inordinate amount of literary ventures like reading series, literary magazines, MFA programs, indie bookstores, read & critique groups, etc… If you’re a writer looking for a writing community, you’ll find many options.

How did you hear of Women Who Submit, and why were you drawn to start a WWS chapter in your area?

I happened to see a tweet from the main WWS account in my feed in the spring of 2015 shortly after attending a writing conference in D.C. It was at this conference that I heard a panel of lit mag editors discuss gender disparities in submission rates and the VIDA Count. I immediately connected to the idea and recognized the need to support women in their submission efforts. Seeing that WWS tweet was a great example of “right place, right time.” I started tweeting at it every time I submitted work!

In spring 2016 my family moved to Pittsburgh. I asked WWS HQ to put me in touch with the Pittsburgh chapter only to discover we did not have one. Totally surprised me because PGH seemed to have everything else. So I started the chapter here. Continue reading

An Imperative Risk

by Bernadette Murphy

We sit at our little desks, maybe sipping a café au lait, staring at a screen. Often, we peer out at a world we hold at arm’s length, maybe through bespectacled eyes, always the outsider, the observer, the one on the periphery. To passersby, we appear the portrait of calm and ease. We’re writers, the nerdiest of nerds, the opposite of the REI adventurer, the wimpiest of wimps.
Or maybe not.

Red Smith famously said, “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” I tend to agree with Smith and believe that the work of a writer, when done well, is as risky as any extreme sport I can name — and requires the same kind of bravery and courage that all perilous adventures do. Maybe even more so. Continue reading

A WWS PUBLICATION ROUND UP FOR MAY

April showers bring May flowers and lots of wonderful publications from Women Who Submit. Congratulations, all!

From Shawna Kenney‘s “The Best Vegan Skincare Products for Summer” at Paste:

We slathered and lathered in our home testing and came up with these winners. Bonus learning that each of these companies is eco-friendly and independently owned. And knowing no one was harmed in the making of these skincare products makes them feel even better going on.

From Lauren Eggert-Crowe‘s “Heaven Make Me a Warrior to Slay All the Bad Magic,” a runner-up for the 2016 poetry contest at Black Warrior Review:

your voice in me

and then the ghost

of your voice

in me

Spent my last nickels

on your pretty blues

Congratulations to Lauren whose chapbook, Bitches of the Drought, was released this month by Sundress Publications!

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Behind the Editor’s Desk: Nikia Chaney

by Lauren Eggert-Crowe

Early in 2017, Women Who Submit invited Nikia Chaney to one of our submission parties. It was the beginning of the year, so the room was packed with writers excited and motivated to accomplish their goals and renew their commitments to good work. We hung posterboard on the wall with goals like “Submit to Residencies,” “Get Paid For Work,” “Finish a Project,” and “Activist Writing.” We each scrawled our names in marker underneath the goals that spoke to us. Still buzzing from the spirit of the Women’s March and the inspiration of powerful intersectional feminist leaders, many of us were eager to connect our creative work to community building. Nikia Chaney, of Jamii Publishing, led new and seasoned WWS members in a great discussion about starting collaborative projects like a press or a journal, and how to best involve the community in the artistic process.

It’s safe to say Nikia knows a lot about goal setting. Jamii, an independent press based in San Bernardino, beautifully lays out its vision, mission, and goal: “Our mission at Jamii Publishing is to foster the communion of artists from all genres, foster growth in the artistic world, and to bring these arts to the community.  We strive to work with artists who are already active in the community as well as those who have a desire to reach outside of their comfort zone and share their art with the larger world. We want to gift books to these dedicated people and help them in turn help others.”

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June WWS Orientation & Two Book Releases

by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo

Saturday, June 10th from 11am-3pm, Women Who Submit will host a public orientation and submission party at Art Share LA in the Arts District with free parking for attendees. Every other month, WWS hosts a public orientation and submission party for women and nonbinary writers in order to welcome new members to join our organization and learn about our mission and submission strategies in a comfortable, supportive and open environment. We will also have a round table discussion on strategies for applying to residencies and workshops.

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Goodwill and Gratitude: Twelve Years with Poets & Writers

by Jamie Asaye FitzGerald

For the last twelve years, I’ve worked for Poets & Writers, Inc. Founded by Galen Williams in New York City in 1970, and guided for over thirty years by the steady hand of executive director Elliot Figman, P&W is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization serving creative writers. Its mission is to foster the professional development of poets and writers, to promote communication throughout the literary community, and to help create an environment in which literature can be appreciated by the widest possible public.

I was hired as a program assistant in 2005, and have directed the California branch office of P&W and its Readings & Workshops (West) grant program for the past three years with the help of program coordinator and fellow poet Brandi M. Spaethe. I didn’t understand at the beginning how foundational the organization’s mission and key values of service, inclusivity, integrity, and excellence were, but over the years these tenets have seeped into my bones and informed my work and my life. I consider my time at P&W as post-post-graduate work—my unofficial PhD in literary community.

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