What motivated you to get involved with a literary magazine in your undergrad days? What was it like working with the staff of the time?
The answer to your question, of course, involves a woman I liked very much. Isn’t that what college is all about?
She was an English major and a poet … and I just wanted to spend as much time as possible doing whatever it was she was doing. So, when she became involved with Michigan State’s excellent literary magazine, The Red Cedar, well, I decided I might like to help out as well.
Some absolutely amazing writers worked on and have been published in the RCR in its illustrious history as the longest-running student-managed college publications. I won’t spend time name-dropping here but you can find all the infomation about the journal at this fantastic site.
Anyhow, after a year of reading submissions as an associate editor, I was asked to take over as the fiction editor for the magazine. I learned a lot about the publication process, which served me in very good stead in my career, and I learned a lot about writing fiction and poetry, which I spent a lot of time doing in college and which, sadly, I’ve done very little of ever since. It was hard work; in addition to all of my reading and writing for class, and anything I wanted to read or write for fun, I was also reading hundreds of submissions from writers who sent in their short fiction from all over the world. In addition to reading their work (and rejecting the vast majority of it), I corresponded with a whole bunch of authors, offering suggestions for ways they might revise and strengthen their writing.
All told, I spent two years on the RCR staff and I loved it … mostly because, in addition to my feelings about a certain woman, I also had a serious interest in literature. Three of my teachers in high school — Jeffrey Welch, Eric Linder, John Hazard — got me excited about literature, both classical and contemporary. And, when I went away to college, I wanted to keep reading and writing. So it made sense to take some classes in the English department and to get involved with the exceptional literary life on campus, even though I was studying political theory and international relations.