Our new online editor, Wendy Ruth Walker, is currently finishing up her MFA in writing at Bennington College. Her story “Cabinet of Animals” received an honorable mention in Glimmer Train’s fall 2017 fiction contest. She was also accepted into the 2018 Tin House Summer Workshop. For more than 10 years, Wendy was an acquisitions editor at Simon & Schuster in New York. She has been a contributing writer to Stop Smiling Magazine and The Jewish Book Council, and currently acts as an editorial consultant. She holds an BFA in film from Syracuse University and lives in Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and daughter.
We’re thrilled to welcome Wendy to the Little Patuxent Review team! She was kind enough to answer a few questions before she dives in.
Q: How did you first learn about LPR and what made you interested in becoming online editor?
A: I’m always looking for new literary journals, especially so on a local level. It’s exciting to learn there are patrons of literature right here, in my backyard. To me that’s LPR. Becoming an online editor has been a recent curiosity of mine; having the opportunity to interview writers and poets, etc. Controlling what goes up on the blog. If I’m being honest, however, the idea of being with the journal has much more to do with joining a community of writers and editors than anything else.
Who are some of your favorite writers?
My favorites tend to shift dependent on what I’m reading at any given time, but in general, I suppose I would say Denis Johnson, George Saunders, Lydia Millet, Amy Hempel, Don Delillo, Toni Morrison, Eudora Welty, and Flannery O’Conner. And then there’s Joy Williams, who I’m presently obsessed with. Also, Carson McCuller’s The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter is a stellar novel.
When and how did you decide to pursue writing seriously?
I think I always wanted to pursue writing seriously, but I was a little slow to believing it might be something I could actually do well. Clearly, I’m still in that process.
You’re currently in the MFA program at Bennington College. How is that going?
It’s been a game-changer. Bennington is a low-residency program, so you work remotely with a faculty member for most of the year and then visit campus in January and June, attending a 10-day intensive of workshops and readings. The program is ideal for someone like me, who is older, works, and has a kid. I’ve been lucky enough to study with some terrific writers there, not the least being Amy Hempel, Jill McCorkle, and Claire Vaye Watkins. I’ve also made some lifelong friends.
What writing projects or plans do you have going?
I have a bunch of interconnected short stories knocking around, but one of my Bennington mentors recently suggested I take one of them and transform it into a novel. It never occurred to me to write a novel, so we’ll see how that goes.
What are some of your other hobbies and passions in life?
I love gardening; tending to plants, watching things grow, identifying trees and shrubs and flowers. The other day I passed a conifer tree with what appeared to be broken walnut shells on the ground. I collected a few and found one that resembled a pinecone shaped like a rose. Turns out it was a Cedar Rose Pine. Not native, but so lovely.
What’s your favorite piece of writing advice?
I don’t know if this qualifies as advice, but it’s a philosophy I subscribe to. Robert Boswell wrote an incredible craft book called The Half-Known World. In it, he suggests that if our aim, as writers, is to create fiction as art, so to speak, part of what makes it art is “the creation of a half-known world…a dimension to the fictional reality that escapes comprehension.” Joy Williams speaks to this too. She says, “The story knows itself better than the writer does at some point, knows what’s being said before the writer figures out how to say it.”