Check out our third print edition on ISSUU!

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As we dive head-first into work on our fourth print issue, the time has come to share our third issue with you. In her publisher’s note, Melissa Connolly sums up our feelings about issue number three:

In this, our third printed edition of Windmill, we continue to learn lessons.

Since our staff is an odd amalgamation of MFA students, undergraduate volunteers, and a one-credit publishing studies class, some of those lessons are obvious, and the questions posed along the way are usually voiced in a slightly annoyed tone: Why isn’t Submittable letting me write notes on this piece? Why does the printer keep talking about signatures? Why can’t I add a second line to the title in this InDesign template?

But other lessons are more subtle, and longer lasting: How to find beauty in writing, and how to discuss the merits of different types of work? How to find consensus? How to take disparate pieces and create something whole, something organic, something even—dare I say—beautiful? And perhaps the most important: how to continue to love writing and art and this literary magazine when you’ve spent the last several hours making small windmill-shaped section dividers for the book that should have been at the printer last week?

This is the part of the unseen work, along with the opportunity to comb through the pages of emerging and established writers line by line, word by word, and work with them on perfecting and publishing their art. Along with these short stories and essays, it is also our charge at Windmill to explore the relationship between creativity and art through our narrative features and interviews. In this issue, we learn about poet and teacher Jane Wong’s craft and highlight a selection of her poems. We also hear from vibrant personalities who visited us at Hofstra this year, including renowned choreographer Twyla Tharp, who shared her thoughts on the creative habit, and the illustrative John McPhee, who discussed the painstaking process of writing, and rewriting.

We even spend some time with our founding editor, Kelly McMasters, who normally writes this letter, but stepped away from much of the day-to-day process of putting this book together this year to tend to the publication of another: This Is the Place: Women Writing About Home, an essay collection she edited with Margot Kahn. In this issue’s Faculty Spotlight, we see Kelly through the eyes of her MFA student, Lily Vu, and consider the twin crafts of creative non-fiction and editing.

Much of our fiction has a distinctly dark and dystopian feel to it, led off with the familiar-yet-postapocalyptic world that colors previous Windmill contributor Heather Whited’s “Things Read by Moonlight,” and the darkly real suburbia in Matthew McGevna’s chilling “The First Few Steps.” It’s in the nonfiction that we feel the immediacy of the natural world, the poetry of the every day—our hometown, the nature we surround ourselves with—whether in Jen Fitzgerald’s meditation on loss and solitude in “Shuttle Launch” or through Akiko Busch’s memory essay “Home in Seven Acts.”

And so the art we chose for this collection reflected the frenetic nature of our written selections: homey yet unfamiliar, beautiful but with dark and foreboding shadows. The otherworldly tulips of the cover, Russian Red Really by Bear Kosik, illustrate this sensibility––natural, yet false; something so familiar and every day that seems just a little off, in a way we cannot quite define. Perhaps this, then, the collected works of friends new and old, of writers and artists, is in its entirety a reflection of our times—the shadows that line the unfamiliar road, the acknowledgment of a work- in-progress, the promise of tomorrow, the beauty of the everyday moment. In days both dark and light, perhaps that is all we can hope for. Perhaps that is what art and writing provide.

Lessons learned.

Melissa Connolly Publisher

Check it out on ISSUU!

 

If It Sounds Like Writing

written by Melissa Connolly

I came across Elmore Leonard’s Ten Tips for Writing a week or so ago, as I tend to come across most things these days – on my Facebook feed – while I was struggling with something in my own writing.

It so happens that at the same time I was struggling, I was in the middle of reading a National Book Award finalist novel, well-regarded, much-loved. But I was having a bit of a love/hate relationship with it. I disliked the characters and resented the time I spent with them. And still I was struck and as a writer jealous of the craftsmanship of the writing, almost precious in its verbosity, the painterly effect of the action, the unique metaphorical descriptions, that forced me to admire the writer.

And I thought…my writing’s not like that. Maybe I need to spend some time sticking some good metaphors and poetic lines in my narrative. Stuffing some preciosity between lines of unadorned lines of dialogue. No one will read my straightforward prose and sarcastic dialogue! I wasn’t thinking straight, having a bit of a panic attack, frankly, thinking of how long it would take to be that poetic, that layered with language, that uniquely beautiful.

Even as I resented reading it.

You see the absurdity of this already, yes?

And that’s when I ran across Elmore Leonard’s ten tips. Now who knows if these are really Leonard’s tips or some warmed-over Internet fable. But it was the last and most important rule that put my panic attack to rest.

“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”

I’m not so bold that I still don’t need permission. So I’m grateful for to get it from wherever it comes. And thank you, Elmore Leonard, wherever your soul may rest.