Slomski and Babine dabble in publishing politics

Karen Babine and Heather A. Slomski of the English Department are well-versed in publishing politics and the writing process.

Babine is currently completing her nonfiction collection called Water and What We Know and Slomski recently released her book of short stories titled The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons.

According to Babine, her book is a collection of place essays based on where she grew up in northern Minnesota and is to be released some time this spring.

Babine started writing this collection of nonfiction essays after she completed her Masters of Fine Arts program at Eastern Washington University.

Each piece was curiosity driven, she said.

“They were written individually [from personal research] and the form of the book took a couple of incarnations,” Babine said. “Some pieces went in and others were taken out.”

The writing process for nonfiction stories are often “computer related,” with research done on the internet, she said.

“Research is the most beautiful part of writing,” Babine said.

Slomski also found the overall theme of the work as she was compiling pieces, not before.

“It wasn’t that i sought out to write [the theme] at the beginning,” Slomski said, “I realized that this was the overarching theme when I went to put them into a collection.”

The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons is a collection of short stories that won The Iowa Short Fiction Award in 2014, a contest for short stories that receives publishing through the University of Iowa Press for award-winning.

Slomski’s stories follow different characters through ways of coping with differents kinds of loss.

Slomski said, “They’re about loss in some way, different kinds of loss and how to deal with it, but most of the loss is bad. There’s some, at least a couple examples, where they’re not a bad thing.”

“When I finished my collection, I inquired a handful of agents. Now it’s not impossible, but it’s difficult to get an agent with a short story collection, unless you already have connections or been published in The New Yorker,” she said.

She tried submitting her manuscript to several different contests instead of finding an agent.

“I submitted it to between five and seven contests, and I was still submitting when I got the call when I had won this award.”

She said she would have kept submitting until she was lucky enough to win this certain award.

“Part of it is luck,” Slomski said. “I just happened to have the right readers and the right judge. It could have taken me two years… or five years. For me, it just happened to happen within about a year.”

Karen Babine said that some pieces rejected from a journal are because they don’t exactly meet the guidelines that the editor is looking for or there are two similar pieces and one must be chosen.

“Rejection isn’t personal,” she said.

It’s part of the publishing process, which is the point at which art ends and business begins, Babine said.

But both Babine and Slomski agree to keep writing through their experiences.

“Good work will get published,” Babine said.

“Write what you need to write,” Slomski said. “If it’s good, there will be an audience for it.”

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