Rachel Kincaid: Managing Editor and Fiction Writer

Rachel's desk.

Rachel’s desk.

It was my good fortune, shortly after moving to Milwaukee, to catch a ride with Rachel Kincaid and her husband, Franklin, to a party featuring tamales and homemade salsa. On the car ride, I learned that Rachel is a fiction writer and managing editor for Autostraddle.com, an online journal featuring “News, Entertainment, Opinion, Community and Girl-on-Girl Culture.” I was especially drawn in by her regular chatty lifestyle column called “Helping You Help Yourself,” which links to advice from DIY household decoration projects to tricks to using gmail more efficiently. You can find links to her work at her website rachel-kincaid.com and you can follow her on twitter at @monkeykin.

She took time this week to share about her life and what it looks like to be a managing editor, fiction writer, and person generally excited about the world. I hope you will enjoy this interview as much as I did.

What do you write? How do you write it? (Like when, where, with what, etc.)

I write essays, news & politics coverage, and lifestyle advice for Autostraddle.com, where I’m the managing editor, as well as writing fiction. My actual writing time is usually interspersed with lots of other job tasks — editing other people’s work, soliciting people, managing a team, etc. Starting around 9:30 or 10 am, I sit at my desk in my home office (or on my couch, if it’s chilly and I need a blanket) with my MacBook. I use Google Docs and WordPress for my day job, and usually Scrivener for fiction (with a Google Docs spreadsheet to keep track of where I’ve submitted my work). I usually take a break around 6 pm or so to make dinner and hang out with my husband, and then do a bit more work and wrap up around 9 or 10 pm.

Can you tell us a little bit about your job and how you got there?

I began with the online magazine I work for when I was around 20 as an intern, and worked my way up through the ranks writing and doing odd jobs. I began working there in an editorial capacity in 2011, and took on more responsibility, and here we are!

I actually had to write up my job description for something recently, conveniently. More or less, it’s this: “I generally write at least a few articles a week, edit and schedule a significant portion of what you see on the website each day, weigh in on submissions and pitches from writers, write out feedback and notes on works in progress by writers on the team and outside contributors, handle book reviews and book-related coverage, generally run point on our news & politics coverage, help develop ideas and stories from our staff, work with two other staff members to create the monthly internal staff newsletter, write letters of reference and provide recommendations to staff on the job market, find and share relevant stories and links elsewhere on the internet for our team to read and maybe write about, brainstorm and plan with other senior editors about big-picture and long-term ideas.”
As far as fiction goes, I’ve been writing short stories since I was a young kid; I majored in creative writing in college and afterwards went on to get an MFA.

How do these job challenge/influence/inspire your writing life?
Thinking in different “modes” — analytical, creative, internal communication, etc — helps keep my brain feeling engaged and my relationship to language fresh, I think. Time management is tough, and I never feel like I’m getting everything done, but I think most of us feel that way. I love that my work means I’m constantly exposed to lots of different writing styles, viewpoints, approaches to ideas, and really smart people. It makes me a better writer and a better person. And ultimately, I think I do best when I have lots of projects going on and lots of things on my plate — when I get stuck or frustrated with one thing, the other ones suddenly look very appealing, and I can work on them more enthusiastically than if they were my only focus.
I’d like to hear a little bit more about fiction. Does your fiction every overlap with the themes found in Autostraddle.com? If so, how so?

As far as fiction, I generally write short fiction; I think it probably doesn’t have any obvious connections to the work I do in my day job, although I guess there are always themes and dynamics that aren’t visible to the writer in their own work, so maybe I’m wrong. I have a collection of short stories largely concerned with codependence and caretaking from my MFA, which I’m endlessly trying to edit, and I’m currently finishing up a chapbook of flash fiction written in response to horror films; and, as I feel like most writers do, I have a novel draft noodling around. This year my work has been published in Catch&Release, Threepenny Review, and is forthcoming in Narrative Northeast.

Do you have a source of inspiration you turn to regularly? (What is it?)

I don’t seek out inspiration in a very structured way, but I do find that researching and learning about new subjects really gets me excited about writing. Really sinking my teeth into a weird historical event or local legends or bizarre scientific facts, any kind of Wikipedia wormhole, reminds me how fascinating the world around us is and how interesting the stories we make out of it are, and motivates me to dig into those ideas in my own writing.

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