My Year with Water~Stone Review
I’m Chelsea, a second-year MFA student here at Hamline. Months after graduating from Central Michigan University, I packed up my bags and moved 700 miles away from home. I was a 22 year old with big dreams, no job, little knowledge of the Twin Cities. Flash forward two years later, and I’m delivering my Water~Stone Review swan song.
One of the reasons I applied to the Hamline MFA program was because of the opportunities they offer with Water~Stone Review. I had long abandoned the idea of becoming a teacher, so I set my sights on working in the publishing industry. When I arrived to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, I still didn’t know what to expect. I knew that there was Graywolf Press, Coffee House Press, and Milkweed Editions. Oh, and that F. Scott Fitzgerald once lived here. I didn’t really know where to start, but I knew that I wanted to kick down the door to the literary world.
I have now worked with Water~Stone Review as a fiction editorial board member (Vol. 18), the production assistant (Vol. 18), a screener (Vol. 19), and most recently, as the general operations assistant (Vol.19). Each opportunity granted me a unique look in the the industry that only intensified my drive and determination to succeed in the daunting, wild, and beautiful world of publishing.
As first a fiction editorial board member, I found so much value as a writer to read another’s labor of love and look at it with a critical eye. I imagined the human behind the words, which only improved my own work and submissions. It was only the beginning.
Executive Editor Mary Rockcastle pitched the production assistant position, which included the opportunity to work with MCAD and, while I knew I wanted to apply for it, I barely knew what the job entailed. As I quickly learned, the behind the scenes world of W~SR and other literary journals is a balance of administrative decisions, connections and social promotions/marketing in the virtual world. I learned the importance of tagging and linking to others in the community. I created our Instagram to increase our visibility and I increased our followers and grew our virtual W~SR community.
I was a screener for Volume 19. When I read submissions I discovered how many hours we put into every single submission. We don’t just read one paragraph— we read it all to realize the potential in every submission. This is somebody’s hard work— and Water~Stone Review treats it as such.
I learned the most about how literary journals operate as a general operations assistant— the communication between contributors and editors, managing the submission process, and the general maintenance of a journal. Not only have I found the path I plan to follow, I’ve become a better reader, writer, and understand the importance of literary journals. Without my time on Water~Stone Review, I doubt I would have gotten my first publication in Five2One magazine’s #sideshow.
I have now experienced the lifecycle of an entire volume, from slush pile to launch party, and the biggest takeaway from my time with W~SR is admiration for the people who make it run, who made me run.Time spent scheduling social media posts, live tweeting classes, attending production meetings, managing submissions, meeting editors, editorial board members, and working closely with our Managing Editor, Meghan, is something I’ll carry forward in my life and career. I’ll always know where my publishing love is rooted.
Thank-you Hamline University, thank-you to the Creative Writing Program’s professors and staff, thank-you Water~Stone Review, and thank-you Meghan for giving me a chance to find out why I’m here, where I belong, and what I love to do.
W~SR General Operations Assistant
Chelsea DeLong is a 2nd year graduate student at Hamline University in St. Paul pursing her MFA in fiction. Originally from Michigan, Chelsea has found her home in the Twin Cities and all of its rich literary history. She’s worked with Water~Stone Review for a year and can usually be found writing her novel, cooking, and running around Hamline’s campus.