by Amelia (’13)
As a Creative Writing senior, I’ve had my fair share of rejection emails from publications I submit my work to. Without fail, they open with a seemingly cheery “Thank you Amelia!” before the ominous “but,” and to polish it all off, “we could not accept your work at this time.” I remember feeling enraged at the fact that a stranger could not see the genius (or potential, mostly potential) my classmates saw in my work. I imagined magazine and literary journal editors as stodgy old men who read the first three words of my piece before laughing maniacally at it and sending it straight to junk mail.
Lorin Stein of The Paris Review is no such editor. First of all he’s not old, or stodgy, and I can’t imagine him laughing at the efforts of a fellow literary mind (with a few exceptions I’ll keep within the department). His humility and appreciation for the contributions of writers like myself are both a huge relief and reassuring for someone who is interested in entering the publishing and editing field. What the department anticipated as a lecture became a two hour discussion about personal history, ambition, the turmoil of self-interest and the interest of the magazine and the art of translation. How wonderful it is to have no preconceived notions of a literary figure and discover he is very much a man doing what he loves for the pleasure of other people. umläut is sending him a care package of our own editing expertise, for good measure of course. I find myself eager as a freshman to dole out the next round of pieces to the next round of journals and zines, in the hope and confidence that like Lorin Stein, they’ll feel bad about saying no.