I started at Guernica almost 16 years ago—16 years this July. It’s time for me to step down as its founding fiction editor.
Guernica was about a year and a half old when I began at the site. It was a passion project founded by Michael Archer and a group of other freelance writers. It started as a reading series at a (now defunct) bar called Guernica in the East Village.
I started out as the nonfiction editor, but after I got some fiction writing awards, I was asked to create a fiction page. In those early days, I had to solicit writers, and I went to about four to five readings a week to get to know still more writers. I made myself get into social media to find even more writers.
There’s a long list of writers who first appeared in Guernica fiction, had an early career boost, or went on to win major awards. Readers showed up gradually and then in droves.
The managing editors were the unsung heroes who ensured the whole thing held together. The standouts were Tiffany Fung, who was there when I began. Everything had to be created out of the air back then, but Tiffany held it together. Co-founder Elizabeth Onusko then put the site on a regular schedule and called us out when we slacked. The site owes so much to our managing editors.
I have many friends from Guernica. However, Erica Wright and Katherine Dykstra are two standouts. We made it a point always to amplify each other at meetings, and I learned a great deal from them. For me, that era of Guernica—when we three sat next to each other at staff meetings in some random midtown law office—is the best.
I owe a lot to fiction editor Autumn Watts. She managed the readers and discovered many writers in the unsolicited pile. She also is an astute and careful editor. Without her, I’d have fallen many times. She also helped me out when I had a concussion and had difficulty reading and editing. Guernica fiction owes her everything.
But now it’s time to move on. I’m going to work on my stuff. I’ll have to send my things to editors I don’t know. I’ll have to remind myself to slough off rejection and to keep submitting. I’ll have to look to other new opportunities and experiences because life is just too damned short not to. Wish me luck.