Welcome to our new Literary Mama blog series: Craft Talks. In this bi-monthly post, we’ll have a mini-interview with our own editors about craft, what they look for in submissions, and all things writing.
Today, I talked with Kelsey Madges, Profiles Editor. She told me about Laurie Frankel, writing the truth, and finding resonance in others’ writing.
1. Tell us about yourself and your position at Literary Mama.
My passion for reading led me to a job as a school librarian. I’m convinced it is the best job in middle school. Before that I was an elementary school teacher and occasional stay-at-home mother to my two children. I have loved reading and writing for as long as I can remember. I discovered Literary Mama back in 2004 by following a link from Jennifer Weiner’s blog to her Literary Mama profile. The opportunity to join LM as a Profile Editor was something of a full-circle moment for me.
2. Is there a passage, sentence, or line of a poem that you absolutely adore? Why is it so good?
In her novel, This Is How It Always Is, Laurie Frankel writes,
You never know. You only guess. This is how it always is. You have to make these huge decisions on behalf of your kid, this tiny human whose fate and future is entirely in your hands, who trusts you to know what’s good and right and then be able to make it happen. You never have enough information. You never get to see the future.
Reading that passage for the first time, and reading it again just now, I’m struck by how much truth is condensed there. Frankel was writing about a specific difficult situation for the family at the center of her novel, but I have thought of this passage over and over again, especially in the unprecedented times we’re living in today. It works for me because I feel deeply what she was saying, it resonates. I love writing that offers me truth I want to climb inside and live in. I feel that way about my favorite books, I wish I could inhabit them.
3. What do you look for in submissions? What type of writing grabs your attention?
When considering a profile submission, I am looking for some of that resonance I mentioned above. The profile subject, and her material, should speak to our readers about aspects of motherhood as well as writing. I look for profile writers who ask unexpected questions as well as questions that push a profile subject to reveal her truths about writing and motherhood. Profile pitches should be well-researched, it is always clear when a profile writer has taken the time to explore our previously published profiles and is familiar with our standards. When I read a profile pitch, I can tell if the writer is passionate about the profile subject. I want to read what they are excited by, to know what speaks to them and makes them want to write the profile.
The Profiles Department seeks profiles of writers who are mothers, or writers who write about motherhood (who may or may not be mothers themselves), or writers who have something to say to mothers. Submissions should range from 750 to 2,500 words and may be an interview (Q&A) or narrative format. More information can be found here. A sample of what the editors are looking for can be found in this post. See our Submissions page for guidelines.
Read something you liked? Let us know in the comments!