Craig: From Three Sides Now

It was over twenty years ago when I received my first acceptance letter for a short story. It was the mid-nineties, when email was still a dangerous new territory, and acceptance (and rejection) letters still came on actual paper, in honest-to-goodness self-addressed envelopes.  My husband called me at my day job, a department store portrait studio in Detroit, to tell me that the letter had arrived. I made him open it and read it to me over the phone, ignoring the two children in their matching back-to-school corduroys who were still flashing toothy grins at my camera a few feet away.  When I got home that evening, I considered framing the letter, but settled on sliding it into a plastic sleeve in a binder that I could pull off the shelve from time to time, to remind myself that I was a “real” writer now.

As a reader, I thought about writing as something intangible, a literary magic that revealed itself only in fleeting flashes of inspiration.  But, as I sent out more pieces and embraced the hard work of revision, my perspective shifted. Like Joni Mitchell and her clouds, I was looking at stories from both sides now.  The more I wrote, the more I appreciated the craft at work in the pieces that I read. And, the more I read, the stronger my own writing became. It wasn’t until years later that I developed a third view, that of an editor.  First as a writing coach, and then a journal editor, I found that editing pieces expanded my appreciation of the writing process. My experiences on the other side of those acceptance and rejection letters informed how I approached reading and evaluating stories.

I may look at stories as a reader, a writer, and an editor, but I’ve come to believe that are more than three sides to this work.  Every piece I encounter has the potential to teach me something new, to inform my overlapping literary views in unexpected ways. That’s why I am so excited to be part of the Rule of Three Review, to collaborate with co-editors who are also friends and fellow writers, and who also embrace the beauty and the tension of our different perspectives.  Mostly, I’m excited to have the opportunity to be part of moments like that one I experienced so many years ago in Detroit. I hope that you’ll share your work with us, and continue to expand the way that we view stories.

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