Meet the Mochila Review Copy-Editors! Copy-editor Matthew Kurtz is a senior perusing a degree in Creative Writing and Publication, and copy-editor Casey Leslie is a senior pursing a degree in English Education.
Q: Why did you decide to become part of the staff of the Mochila Review?
MK: I originally joined because I needed it for the Creative Writing minor. But I enjoyed being part of this journal so much, that I’ve come back three times now. It’s the reason I’ve decided to go into the publication business once I’ve graduated.
CL: Like many other staffers here, I decided to join because it is a requirement for the Creative Writing minor; however, I was not hesitant at all to enter the staff room. Most of the staff already knew each other beforehand; it felt like a big family since day one.
Q: What does your staff role entail? What duties are you responsible for?
MK: As a copy-editor, it’s my job to make sure that every piece that is accepted is free of spelling and grammar errors. I go over every submission correcting mistakes wherever I find them, and very rarely make suggestions about how to improve content. I also proof-read any other documents we put out, such as blogs and these staff spotlights for errors as well.
CL: Matt has the copy-editor’s job figured out. However, this year we are doing something new that no one has done at this university: we are putting together a little notebook full of the ins-and-outs of the job for the people who will take over our roles whenever we decide to leave. I think that’s pretty neat.
Q: As a creative writer, what is your area of expertise?
MK: I’m very much a prose writer. Even after taking a poetry class, I’ve never felt very confident about writing it. My brain is always churning out stories and characters and bits of dialogue, and it’s my dream to put all ideas to work, and become a novelist.
CL: Poetry, Poetry, and more poetry. I love reading all types of prose and stories–but I’ve never taken the time to develop it as a craft, therefore I really stink at it. I think that it means I appreciate a good story more than most, because I know how much work it takes to do that. Poetry will always have a soft spot in my heart though.
Q: Has being part of the Mochila Review staff helped you as a writer? In what way?
MK: One of the great perks of working in a literary journal like Mochila is that it has exposed me to a wide range of topics and ideas to write about. It’s also shown me a lot about the do’s and don’ts of writing, while copy-editing has sharpened my skill at spotting errors in my own work.
CL: In a weird way, it has taught me to rejoice in the rejections as much as the acceptances. It has taught me that while they decided to not take my place, someone out there has read it besides me, and sometimes that is enough.
Q: What is one unique thing about you? (A talent/skill, an aspect of your personality, etc.)
MK: I’m a huge nerd. How big you ask? I write fantasy and science fiction, and after I’d already graduated with a history degree, I came back to study creative writing so I could write historically accurate fantasy and science fiction. That’s how big a nerd.
CL: I have this super-focus skill that not very many people have. It sounds strange, but I seriously can sit down and do something (homework, reading submissions, playing Fallout 4) without moving, or breaking my concentration, for hours. It’s less unique and more creepy than anything, really. Also, I am really funny. (What do you call a pile of kittens? A meowtain!)
Q: Who are your favorite authors?
MK: That’s kind of a hard question. My three go-to answers are J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and J.K. Rowling, but lately I’ve been getting into Jim Butcher and Andrzej Sapkowski.
CL: J.K. Rowling, Ellen Hopkins, Sarah Dessen, Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Plath. The list could go on and on.
Q: What is your favorite literary magazine?
MK: Aside from Mochila? Probably Fantasy Scroll.
CL: This is really hard—they’re all so good! I’m going to have to say Flint Hills Review.
Q: Any last advice for aspiring authors who wish to submit their work?
MK: Send more prose! But seriously, we love anything unique, or that goes against the standards of your chosen genre. Never be afraid to experiment. Always try flipping clichés on their heads.
CL: When you do your first draft—keep going. Do not stop to review; do not stop to edit; do not pass go and collect 200 dollars—do not stop for anything. Write until you think the story is finish, then allow yourself to re-read and make changes. This will stop the instinct to scrap an entire story before it is finished; the entire thing is already on paper, you might as well deal with it.