I got the opportunity to have a Q&A via email with former SUNY Oswego student, Shannon Ariel, about her experience at Oswego as a Creative Writing student and her perspectives on publishing, along with her experiences. Thank you, Shannon, for your time and participation!
What was your major/minor when you attended SUNY Oswego?
I majored in Creative Writing at SUNY Oswego.
What classes helped your writing to grow? If not, what did?
Honestly, every poetry class with Professor Donnelly helped. She made me realize what I really wanted was to be a poet and has supported me and my work from day one.
When did you discover you wanted to become a writer?
It was back in high school when I discovered I was good at making stories up; mostly to get myself out of trouble. So, when it came to my future, I figured I could lie for a living. It was either a writer or lawyer at that point, and writing is far more fun.
Were you published in the Great Lake Review? If so, talk about the piece(s) that were accepted.
I was published in the Great Lake Review and it was with a poem that I very much hated: “Signed Copy of Insecurity”. It was one of the few poems that came out of my Literary London trip and I still can’t believe they chose that one!
Did you continue working on/with them when you graduated from SUNY Oswego?
I haven’t really continued with it at all. It was kind of a word vomit thing that I think just needed to come out. Since the moment’s gone, I don’t really think I could add anything more to it that would make it better.
What are you up to now that you're out of college?
I’ve moved to Wisconsin and am trying to apply for an MFA program focusing on poetry. That’s just a goal, but I’m currently about to start a new job at a bookstore.
Talk about you other publications.
I found Wizards in Space from a writing blog I followed, and it was looking for poets for its first ever issue. They had a focus on marginalized groups (POC, LGBT, etc.) and I submitted a few works for consideration. The same poem from Great Lake Review got in. I don’t even remember submitting that one! As for the NY Best Emerging Poets, they contacted me asking for submissions, as they do apparently with quite a few past students from Oz, and I figured “Why not?”
How did you feel to be published in New York's Best Emerging Poets?
I had never heard of them, so I was a little sketched out at first. After talking with Professor Donnelly, I decided to go through with it. Sadly, it wasn’t a paying gig. In fact, I had to pay for a copy of the book. Didn’t matter in the long run to me; I was in a book with “best” on the cover and that just felt swell.
Can you give any advice to current students about getting their work published? The process? The feeling of it all?
You’re going to get rejected. A LOT. This is fine and is by no means a reflection of your quality. It’s so subjective that it could just come down to the mood the reader was in that day. Take chances! You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take and all that. Don’t do payed submissions unless you can afford the fee. No shame in being broke. Shoot high but don’t overlook the little guy; the small pamphlet of poems that just had their first issue is just as glamorous as a high-end literary magazine. Most importantly: write because you NEED to, not because you want to get paid.