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Get to Know: Alicia Elliott

Snapchat-3127893120136803869Alicia Elliott (@WordsandGuitar) is our 2017 Nonfiction Contest judge and the first ever interviewee for our Get to Know series! This series will be dedicated to getting to know our contest judges, magazine contributors, and writers we love.

Alicia Elliott is a Tuscarora writer living in Brantford, Ontario, where she worries she may one day die. Her writing has been published by RoomMaisonneuve, GrainThe New Quarterly and The Malahat Review. She has a monthly column with CBC Arts, and her essay “A Mind Spread Out on the Ground” won Gold for the 2017 National Magazine Award. She’s currently working on a collection of short stories and dealing with the fact that her only daughter is nearly a teenager.

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I have nineteen questions for you…

Over the past year, our writer interviews have become a favourite read on the PRISM website. We’ve had the chance to share with you exciting new works and engaging conversations from emerging to established writers across multiple genres. The tradition of writers interviewing writers has a long and rich history. Amongst the classics— from the Proust Questionnaire to The Paris Review —there are a growing number of websites dedicated to this form.

For the next month, I’ll post a short synopsis from some of our favourite “writers in conversation with writers” websites and link to a  number of the “stand out” interviews. Without further ado, for your reading and writing pleasure, I’d like to introduce…

Nineteen Questions

“How writers became who they are.”

The interviews are witty, engaging, and (though the title suggests otherwise) not limited to an actual 19 questions. You’ll be introduced to new writers and read never before heard responses to unconventional questions charting the path of some of your favourite authors from Canada and around the world. The entire site is well worth your time. Here are a few  favourites:

Chris Frey

Chris Frey

“What is the worst thing you’ve ever done for money?”  From Roquela Fernandez’s interview with Chris Frey.

Audrey Niffenegger

Audrey Niffenegger

“I read that you had great difficulty finding a publisher for The Time Traveler’s Wife. One article stated that it was rejected twenty-five times prior to MacAdam/Cage. Is that true? Do you have any advice for writers on how to handle the rejection process?” From Kelsey Savage’s interview with Audrey Niffenegger.

Matt Rader

Matt Rader

When you write, who are you addressing? Do you write for an audience or purely for yourself in the hope that the work will find an audience?” From Christopher Evans’ interview with Matt Rader.

Ruth Ozeki

Ruth Ozeki

“With your bicultural background, please explain something in Japanese that is hard to translate into English.” From Kris Kosaka’s interview with Ruth Ozeki. 

Rejection is Good for the Soul

By Jane Campbell
rejected1I spend a lot of time thinking about rejection letters, probably because I’m in the unenviable position of both sending and receiving them. I had hoped that my experience working at a magazine would inure me to the pain of rejection. After all, I now know as well as anyone how difficult it is to get published in a literary magazine and how many external factors influence an editor’s decision. For example, sometimes I’m not able to take a story I love because we don’t have room for it or because the subject matter doesn’t fit with the rest of our issue.Here’s the problem: Even though I know I shouldn’t take rejection personally, I still do. Being rejected sucks. Especially for writers, who tend to be both emotionally precious and ego-driven.

So here’s my advice about rejection: Do take it personally. Get angry! Use that anger as fuel to keep writing. Every time you get a rejection letter think to yourself: One day the editor who sent me this rejection letter will see that I’ve won [insert dream literary award of your choice], and that knowledge will totally ruin her day, just like her rejection letter totally ruined mine!

Successful writers aren’t necessarily the best writers, they’re the writers who never give up. Rejection happens at every stage of a writer’s career. You graduate from literary magazine rejection to literary agency rejection to publisher rejection. Think of every rejection letter you get as practice for the rest of your life! Welcome to being a writer!

All that said, here a few facts about rejection that might lessen the blow, just a tad:

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