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? Continue reading

“The blog is all about the comedy and the novel is, well, not.”

awkwardprofilepicIf you have been feeling a lag in motivation in your writing life, you need to read this interview with Emelie Samuelson. Emelie is humorist, YA novelist, and all-around inspiring woman. She lives in the small town that the Gilmore Girls‘  Stars Hallow is based on. Read on to learn more about how and why she picked up and moved to this town. You’ll be inspired to follow your dreams.

What do you write?

I have my own blog, Awkwardly Alive and Pleasantly Peculiar, on which I share weekly stories about my many embarrassing moments in life, and I also just finished the first draft of my first novel. Now I’m in that dreadful editing process. The two projects are different enough, though, so my brain is never bored. The blog is all about the comedy and the novel is, well, not.

Can you tell us a little more about your first novel?
My novel is a psychological one, dealing with a teenager with schizophrenia, although I think it’s more about the characters than the illness itself. I think it will be marketed to young adults, which is great because that’s a genre I’m incredibly comfortable with. I’m pretty inspired by the Y.A. authors (but would never dare to compare myself to any of them because they’re too brilliant and I am…me.) Rainbow Rowell, John Green, and David Levithan (just to name a few, although there are a least half a dozen more). I like when authors of that genre can write books for teens that don’t over-dramatize things. It’s important to me that teen fiction is respectful towards what teenagers go through and what they feel. Whether or not my book will accomplish that, I have no idea, but I’m really hoping it will. Continue reading

5-9: Abdel Shakur on fiction, 9th grade, and patience

Abdel and his daughter, setting up his classroom.

Abdel and his daughter setting up his classroom.

Happy New Year! I’m excited to post today’s interview with Abdel Shakur. I heard about Abdel long before I met him. At Indiana Review, he is the editor who brought you the unforgettable funk issue in 2008. I got there a year after he had moved on to bigger and better things, but the office was still feeling the glow of that issue. Recently, he was kind enough to carve out the time for to correspond with me about the writing life. Abdel’s work has appeared in 2bridges, Glint, and Scissors and Spackle. And you can find him blogging at misstraknowitall.blogspot.com. He lives in Chicago with his family and teaches ninth grade English.

AS: Who are the authors you return to for inspiration?

James Baldwin the most. He’s an awesome role model for purposeful artistry and purposeful living. He’s not perfect, but you got to learn to love your imperfections.

AS: How does teaching influence/inspire/interrupt your writing?

I think one of the biggest insights I had as a teacher is how important it is to present yourself to your students as a model of thoughtful creativity. If I want kids to think, I have to show them how I think. If I want them to read critically, I’ve got to model it. If I want them to be writers than I have to make sure I’m still a writer myself. Of course that’s easier said then done, but I write all of the projects I ask my students to do, which motivates me to want the writing to be as fun and interesting as possible. I also started taking the train to school, which gave me time in the mornings. But this is the first year I could write like that. This is my fifth year of teaching and I feel like I pretty much know what I’m doing. Instead of directing all my creativity to creating projects and worksheets, I try to do a little on my writing every day. Starting that up again is one of my big goals for 2013.

AS:  That’s awesome that you write all the assignments that you give your students. Have any of the assignments turned into a full fledged story for you? Do any of your stories ever take place in fictitious class room? Or do you usually leave the classroom behind when you are writing?

I can’t say that any of my class writing has turned into anything I’d really like to work on further. The stuff I write for class displays a part of my writing, but a lot of the stuff I write isn’t necessarily school-appropriate. I just published a story, The Substitute, in 2 Bridges Literary Review that was influenced by my experience working in a school in Baltimore. It’s one of those class-from-hell experiences.

I’ve also written a bit since then about school stuff, but it’s kind of hard when you’re still immersed in that world to find the distance you need to examine what’s going on. Plus, with a lot of journals being available online, you’ve got to be careful because people have certain expectations about what teachers can and cannot write. Although I love teaching high school, that’s one of the real drawbacks.

I’m grateful for Abdel sharing his thoughts on what its like to be a writer and ninth grade english teacher. I also feel encouraged by his words of wisdom about patience and by the integrity he models for his students. He’s taking the do-what-I-do approach instead of the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do approach which often is the easier way.

As this new year continues to roll forward what are your big goals of 2013?