The Sentinel Interview with The Write Room’s Developer
New Site for Writers
by Gina Gareri-Watkins, Staff Writer, Kennesaw State University’s The Sentinel
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
The Sentinel recently talked shop with Joellen Kubiak-Woodall, developer and editor of the online magazine, The Write Room. Kubiak-Woodall is a recent KSU graduate currently enrolled in KSU’s Master of Arts in Professional Writing (MAPW) program in Creative Writing.
Born in Athens, Georgia, to a homemaker mother and journeyman father, Kubiak-Woodall was raised by her mother and maternal grandparents in North Augusta, SC, a small town straddling the South Carolina-Georgia state line. Much like the Savannah River separating the two states, Kubiak-Woodall traveled a circuitous route in her youth from South Carolina to California and back, eventually returning to Georgia in 1989.
Kubiak-Woodall’s work is heavily influenced by her Southern roots, with many of her stories drawn from childhood experiences among the rural working poor in South Carolina during the 1960s. Her prose often captures and preserves this Southern community of friends and family, and Kubiak-Woodall hopes to expand her collection of short stories, tentatively titled “Clay Pit Road,” to form her final MAPW Capstone. Excerpts are currently featured online in The Write Room.
The Write Room is an e-zine featuring fiction, creative non-fiction, memoir and poetry from both new and established writers. E-zines are online magazines that are similar to their print versions in content but contain technology-based features not available in traditional media. E-zines cover nearly every topic imaginable; popular ones typically focus on art, literary content, industry, or promotional interests. Some serve as online twins of their print counterparts, while others differ dramatically. Along with its literary content, The Write Room features film, television, book and music reviews, as well as commentaries and interviews.
S: What was your reason for developing The Write Room? Was it a graduate assignment or a personal project?
KW: A personal project. I kept hearing all these wonderful stories being read to me in my writing classes, and I found them compelling and the authors talented. I was seeing professors’ works displayed in the case in the English building and was wondering, where’s the students’ works?
S: Did you have technical experience in designing e-zines prior to The Write Room?
KW: Yes and no. I created a departmental newsletter that was available in both print and online formats, and I built a website for my writing partner and myself but it never went live.
S: What type of content does your e-zine carry?
KW: It’s an eclectic mix of literary forms, interviews and reviews.
S: What will readers find on your site that they might not find on others?
KW: Fresh voices for one, as new writers are my focus. As far as the other content is concerned, I want to cover independent film and musical artists. Look, you can find a review of a major label artist, some studio blockbuster, or a new novel by an established writer in a hundred places, but you’ll have a hard time finding one for a small label artist, independent filmmaker or new writer. I want to interview people that my readers don’t know but probably should. There is an enormous amount of talent that goes largely ignored and I want to showcase them.
S: What do you consider the most valuable content feature of The Write Room?
KW: Any piece that gets a new writer noticed. Hands down, that’s what we are about.
S: Do you have a writing preference of your own? What are you currently contributing to the site?
KW: Currently, I contribute music and film reviews, and some of my own memoir material. I also like to write non-fiction pieces and humorous personal observations on popular culture, which is where my blogging comes in.
S: What kind of opportunities does The Write Room offer new and established writers?
KW: I subscribe to a number of online newsletters that feature employment and funding opportunities for writers, as well as literary contests. I read and evaluate them for relevancy and post them to the site on a timely basis. Generally, Opportunities are updated weekly. I like to give all contributors an author’s page for themselves where they can link to their own blog or personal website.
S: What about concerns writers might have about copyrights?
KW: I researched online copyright law before putting anything online. A lot of people don’t know that once you post something online it is copyrighted automatically under U.S. and, in most cases, international law. The Write Room policy concerning copyrights of our content is clearly stated on the site, and something we take very seriously.
S: Are you finding any difficulty in obtaining submissions?
KW: Yes, and I’m surprised by that because I know a lot of people who are writers. I think it has to do with the duality of a writer’s psyche: on the one hand they shout, “Hey! Look at me,” and on the other hand they are terrified of rejection. I’m hopeful that this interview will help encourage them to submit their work.
S: Do you have a network of current contributors? Who should consider contributing content?
KW: Yes. I have several folks from the MAPW program, and a friend who is actually a published poet, who are on board. Anyone and everyone who feels they have material that is a fit for the online magazine should submit. I’m open to undergrad, graduate, faculty or staff. If a piece is well-written, and an editorial fit, I will publish it. I’ve published some simply stunning poetry from an undergraduate that just blew me away. There is a lot of talent and creative energy on this campus.
S: How should potential writers contact you? What should they provide?
KW: They can contact me via The Write Room website address. After reading the guidelines they should send me their piece as a Word attachment, along with a brief bio and a photograph.
S: Have you considered querying readers regarding what they want to see on your online pages?
KW: Sure. That’s what the Comment box and the Contact Us link is for. I’d be really excited to receive input from our readers.
S: Do you plan to expand the content as a result of their input?
S: Will there be ongoing columns and opinion pieces?
KW: Yes. Heath Beck, a Georgia State student pursuing his Masters in Film, writes an ongoing column for us called Film Schooled. I’ve also written an editorial of my own, and I’ll consider any other opinion pieces that come our way.
S: How do you plan on promoting The Write Room?
KW: Forums, interviews, chats, word of mouth, shouting from rooftops, that sort of thing. In all seriousness, I have been approached by a fellow MAPW student who expressed an interest in promoting the magazine. I’m more than happy to accept any help offered in that area. Volunteers. Anyone.
S: Do you see your e-zine eventually generating income?
KW: That would be great, but if it generates opportunities for its contributors then, in my opinion, it’s a success.
S: What is your ultimate goal for The Write Room regarding content and hosting?
KW: Our content will evolve over time, depending on our readership. My goal is to move the site to an independent hosting site after we have built up a following. Right now I’m a little restricted in the site’s design, and I’d like some more freedom in that area.
S: What are you currently reading?
KW: Of my own choosing? Faulkner. The Sound and the Fury.