What do Blackbird Review staff members do in the summer for fun? They write, of course, and, this summer, two staffers saw their hard work come to fruition by having that work published! BBR Editor-in-Chief Sara Gannon and BBR Fiction Editor Lindsey Odorizzi put their writing on the line and submitted work to two prominent magazines this July, and both had their work accepted. Lindsey’s story, “Ripping the Sky,” was published on the Teen Ink Magazine website (http://www.teenink.com/fiction/action_adventure/article/912715/Ripping-the-Sky/), and Sara’s poem, “Pragmatic Musings,” was published in the September 2016 issue of Chronogram Magazine (https://issuu.com/chronogram/docs/chronogram-0916).
Odorizzi’s story is an action-adventure sea yarn that comes with a speculative punch at the end. She was inspired by a song she heard on the radio. Gannon’s poem is a form-challenging rumination on what it is to be teenager in today’s world. She found her inspiration in reading other literary magazines. “I stumbled onto DIAGRAM, an electronic journal of text and art. Every single work they published was unique and contained such innovation that the more I read, the more inspired I became. That night, I wrote “Pragmatic Musings,” a piece that challenged the usual diction and form of my work.”
While both have had pieces published on the Blackbird Review website and in the magazine’s print editions, the publication of BBR writers in commercial magazines is a first, and very difficult. “It’s a very competitive field,” says BBR advisor Brian Stumbaugh. “Most magazines receive hundreds if not thousands of submissions a month, so being selected and being published so quickly is a great honor.”
But these students are no strangers to writing. Sara and Lindsey both have been writing for at least five years, and are multi-year veterans of the Cole Summer Writers Institute, a one-week, writing intensive workshop that allows students in grades 6-12 to focus on their writing. Both writers credit Cole for helping them strive to push their work beyond a high school audience. “[Cole] has made me take writing more seriously and helped me realize that I can actually get my writing out there for others to read. That never was something I thought I could do before going to this camp,” says Odorizzi, and Gannon adds that “the Cole Summer Writers Institute … inspired me to send out my work to magazines without fear of being rejected. In addition, the overall experience has pushed me out of my writing comfort zone and made me try new styles and techniques that helped to improve my writing as a whole.”
Both wish to continue writing well into the future. Odorizzi plans on studying writing in college and one day pursuing a writing career while Gannon wishes to continue writing in college as a hobby. They both will continue submitting their work to magazines in the future, in part because the aforementioned desire to get their work out to a wider audience. Says Gannon, “I started submitting because I wanted to share my work with a larger community. I don’t write regularly, but often when I do, it’s because I feel an urgency to put my words on paper at that exact moment. I work hard to capture my inspiration or thoughts and then at another point I edit and revise. Because of this, my writing ends up expressing some of the more influential experiences and feelings in my life, and the ability to share this with others who might be able to relate is an opportunity too good to pass up.”
When asked what advice each writer had for aspiring writers, both agreed that getting the words down on paper was the first big hurdle, followed by finding the right journal that fits the writer’s own personal style. There are lots of journals out there, so both stressed the need to find the right place for the work. Then it comes down to being persistent and continually sending your work out. Says Odorizzi, “It’s also important to not get discouraged if you get rejected. Just keep sending your stuff out and eventually someone will want to publish it.” Gannon echoes that sentiment. “All in all, it’s important to remember that even though you will face rejection, you will never achieve publication if you don’t submit.”
Sara and Lindsey’s previous work, along with work from other Voorheesville writers, can be found on the Blackbird Review website at https://blackbirdreview.org/.