NaBeela Washington of Lucky Jefferson Recommends...

Being a writer isn’t a one-size-fits-all experience. Just like being an editor doesn’t make me a god. You (yes, you) have the autonomy to create and challenge the expectations within publishing.

One trope of being a writer, which I find harmful to the publication process, is believing that you need to check off figurative boxes to be taken seriously—to even submit your work to publishers. In reality, historical assumptions and systems should be abolished. We are all writers and editors in our own way, whether we’re writing an e-mail, drafting a blurb for forthcoming work, or struggling through the lines of the most riveting piece we trust we’ve ever written. 

I believe writers interfere with their legitimacy—disrupting the fluidity and breadth of their capabilities—with preconceived ideas about the process, journey, and identity of being a writer: just being someone who adores stringing words together. As an editor I am constantly entering a relationship with people I don’t know: How would you like me to remember your work?

You are more than your MFA or PhD. You are not your first, fifth, or twentieth chapbook, let alone your first full-length collection. And you don’t owe anyone anything. Not even me. So when you’re working up the nerve to send a query or submit your writing for the umpteenth time to that dream publication, do it first for you and plant yourself firmly in your craft. Believe in your truth. You are just as much a part of the acceptance process as I am. And I am strengthened in my own relationship to writing when I read a submission that grabs me and eats my spirit alive. I’d rather read the work of someone certain.

It’s a beautiful thing to come into the knowledge of who you are, but an even more profound thing to write without fear.

NaBeela Washington, editor in chief, Lucky Jefferson