She is NO Sucker, Interview with Molly Cavanaugh, Senior Copyeditor Goddess

6 (somewhat) Random and 2 Serious Questions With Senior Editor Goddess Molly

1. Which story is your favorite from volume 2 and why? (I will not be offended if it isn’t mine J )

This is a tough one, obviously, because all the stories were so great, but since I guess I’m not allowed to say the Acknowledgments (even though there’s such a great shout-out to yours truly in it!), I think my favorite was “Do You Remember Fred?” It’s so hard-hitting, and it really packs in a lot into a very small space—I’m pretty sure it’s the shortest of any of the stories. And, though I wish it weren’t, it’s very realistic.

2. What song best describes your experience with editing stories for Sucker?

“Beautiful,” by Christina Aguilera, because a) wasn’t that a great song?, and b) I always hope the writers know we think their stories are beautiful in every single way, and that my critical words won’t bring them down! We’re just polishing already awesome work to help it stand out as the beautiful art it is.

3. You have detailed your journey with celiac disease on your (super funny and informative) blog Based On A Sprue Story. So, if I come to your house for dinner what would you make for me?

Thank you for the compliment on my blog! I never thought I’d get into blogging, but now I love it. Celiac disease translates to “gluten-free, not by choice.” Because I’m also vegetarian (that one is by choice), I might serve an Indian dinner (based on rice, legumes, and lots and lots of coconut milk); socca (a chickpea-flour pizza/flatbread thing sure to be the next foodie craze); or maybe pineapple fried rice with tofu—that’s on the menu for tonight! For dessert, maybe brownies, made with a blend of GF flours, or ice cream, which is usually GF unless it’s got chunks of glutenful cookies in it. Oh, and if what you’re really asking about is drinks, that’s easy: almost anything other than beer!

4. What advice do you have for writers who want to submit to us?

DO IT. But do it after you’ve given yourself some time to set aside your piece—for at least a few days—then reread and revise it. Ideally, get a second opinion or two from a friend. We love to help you edit, but considering how much competition there is for space, it’s best to come in with something already in good shape. Also, consider writing about male, bi/gay, or other-than-Caucasian characters. If you can do it well, you’ll really stand out in a sea of straight white girls. (No offense intended to straight white girls; I am one myself, after all.)

5. You are an editor by day (for pay!) as well as our editor. What has this career (so far) taught you about writing and publishing?

I’ve learned that everyone really does have an opinion on everything—even things you’d think nobody other than we copy-editing folks would care about, like commas or the spelling of the word tabbouleh (I work on a lot of cookbooks). You need to learn to tread carefully, and know when to cite an authority (the Chicago Manual of Style is God) and when to just let it go. Breaking the rules sometimes pays off. The fine line between “error” and “style” hasn’t become any clearer since I started; if anything it’s hazier.

6. Favorite punctuation mark and why?
Definitely parentheses (I guess that’s two marks). I’m not even going to try to count how many times I’ve used them in this interview, for example.

7. I make all the writers come up with a one-sentence tagline for their stories. Come up with a one-sentence tagline for your life so far.

Although I seem to have become a twenty-something living in New York, I assure you it’s nothing at all like Girls.

8. Did you edit these questions as you read them?  J

Just a little. ;)

Why We Want To Mentor You

While reading the first set of submissions for Sucker this weekend, I found myself struggling. Most of the submissions had the potential to be amazing. And “potential” speaks loudly to my inner teacher…but not so much to my inner editor. The inner editor said, “Just put these in the “pass” pile.” (A pile that was growing far larger than the “maybe” pile, and I didn’t quite have a “yes” pile).  My inner teacher said, “Wait–can’t you just work with this writer, just throw out a few pointers?” And because my inner teacher was once able to command a study hall of 200-plus seventh graders with the narrowing of her eyes, my inner editor really never had a chance. Continue reading