Welcome to 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 Amanda Jaros, Editor-in-Chief. She told me about her journey from Blog Editor to Editor-in-Chief, her love for Camille Dungy, and the importance of aha! moments in writing.
1. Tell us about yourself and your position at Literary Mama.
I started at Literary Mama as the Blog Editor. After numerous years in that role, I joined the Creative Nonfiction department, then became a Senior Editor. When our previous editor-in-chief stepped down, I decided the time was right for me to take the steering wheel. For the past few years I have truly enjoyed leading this crew of smart, passionate and talented mother-writers. I’m mom to an almost 15-year-old son, and stepmom to a 23-year-old daughter. I hold an MFA in creative nonfiction and am trying to put that to good use working on a memoir about the six months I spent hiking the Appalachian Trail. For my day job, I serve my community as a County Legislator in Ithaca, NY, and I’m up for reelection this year.
2. Is there a passage, sentence, or line of a poem that you absolutely adore? Why is it so good?
I could quote a lot of lines from a lot of great writers. But it’s spring now and my thoughts turn inevitably to the Adirondack Mountains, where I hike each summer, and to stories of hiking. One story on my mind is Camille Dungy’s essay “A Good Hike,” from her book A Guidebook to Relative Strangers. Dungy talks about what a good hike means to her:
I lose track of my own inhibitions and begin to wonder just what I might be able to do if I allowed myself the full scope of my potential.
I appreciate this description not necessarily because of it’s literary prowess, but because I feel the same way when I hike. There is a freedom, an empowerment, a sense that anything is possible when I move my feet along a difficult trail through the mountains. I love reading about outdoor adventures, and I love it when I connect with a story that has captured the exact feeling of something I too have experienced outside.
3. What do you look for in submissions? What type of writing grabs your attention?
As editor-in-chief, I don’t review submissions anymore, but I do offer feedback to department editors via our final approval process. The stories and poems I love to see in Literary Mama’s pages are the one that have a wow or aha! moment. What grabs my attention are the stories which may tell a tale that’s been told a thousand times, but which surprise me with an unexpected resolution or ending. Take me somewhere familiar and show me something new. I enjoy reading work like this that lingers with me for hours or days.
Read something you liked? Let us know in the comments!