The “Prefect Ten”- Scott Waldyn
All Hallows Eve breathes its looming icy chill through the taint of life as ghouls and goblins delight in anticipation. Of course, for those enlightened individuals who may be actually paying attention, the most frightening and vile monster of all currently occupies America’s White (Supremacist) House. Life may indeed be stranger than fiction but you can always count on another installment of Bread Crumbs from the Void to lull willing victims into a false fucking sense of security. Everything will be just fine — if only for the coffee you are ingesting, whiskey you are mainlining, or muddy shit you are spewing whilst reading the remainder of this column.
It is true, as evidenced by Bread Crumbs from the Void, I can be crass and vulgar. If obscenities are not to your liking, and you have not as of yet encountered this column, I will pause here to inform you this is most certainly the wrong carnival for you. Pack up your shit and move it along to the bible camp down the road. If a midnight ramble is more your speed, I invite you to take a load off, ingest some psychedelics, and prepare for the latest “Prefect ten”. Before the hallucinations begin, I will take this opportunity to remind you the “Prefect Ten” is a new series where I pose ten questions to established editors/publishers whom I respect and admire. With this in mind, meticulously study the answers presented to you herein. Inscribe the messages on your hearts and genitals as to never be forgotten. Shudder before the almighty, heathens!
Now it is my privilege to present the whimsical and pragmatic Scott Waldyn.
Q & A
I’ve been with Literary Orphans since the beginning, since before it was even a digital publication and was just a Chicago-area writers group. When Mike Joyce, the former editor-in-chief, came to us with this idea for a digital publication, I was on board and have been ever since. After three years of steering the ship, he offered the position to me, so he could work on other areas of expanding Literary Orphans (such as The Rookery and other projects I’m not at liberty to talk about just yet). It’s a privilege one doesn’t pass up lightly, and it’s an opportunity to make the world a better place. How could I have said no to that?
Editing wasn’t something I sought out; it’s something that found me. Through my love of literature, art, the pursuit of creativity, and storytelling, becoming an editor was something that just… happened. It was a skill I didn’t know I had at first, but when the opportunity presented itself to curate and cultivate, editing just… clicked.
And I’ve loved it ever since. There’s nothing more fulfilling in life than knowing that you’re playing a role in building something bigger than yourself.
I wouldn’t say there’s one specific trait that attracts me to a submission. It’s a combination of a lot of smaller parts that work in conjunction to leave me with an idea or a feeling that I can’t shake off right away. Pieces that draw me in build an atmosphere with a carefully cultivated style, show me some framework of a story, and leave me with an emotion or a feeling to contemplate. These pieces can be funny, silly little works that peel back the serious exterior of humanity, or they can tear up the facade of civilized society to leave me uncomfortable with things I normally would have found comfort or complacency in. At the end of the day, I want to be taken somewhere or shown something, and I don’t know where or what that is until it’s unveiled in front of me. That said, I’m one of a handful of editors reading submissions, and we each are attracted to different traits.
Literary Orphans focuses on fiction and poetry, and Tavern Lantern serves as our creative nonfiction, reviews, interviews, and news side. That’s the very basic, direct way to separate the two, but these two houses work in tandem to present a dream, a collective dream conjured up by writers, poets, and artists from various backgrounds and identities all across the globe. In a world hyper-focused on updating friends and families about the movies we’re seeing, TV shows we’re watching, or other products we’re consuming at a ravenous pace, LO (Literary Orphans) is the free antithesis to frenzied consumption. We’re open any sort of dream or vision a creator wants to share, we just ask that the piece is earnest and comes from that consciousness buried deep within.
Honestly, I think the biggest pet peeve is not reading submission guidelines. We’re a pretty wide open magazine, but we do have a few caveats (like no novel excerpts). When people break those rules, it’s disappointing. I’m also not a fan of 70+ page submissions. That’s happened more than a few times.
This is a hard question to answer because, being a writer who submits myself, I get how much rejections suck. While we try to be as nice and considerate as possible to submitters, sometimes there’s no way to soften the blow. To keep rejections from getting personal, we opt to send out form rejections. In this way, we can give a blanket decline without criticizing someone’s work. We do this because the process of selecting pieces is subjective. No matter where you submit, it’s all opinion (and sometimes there’s the chance the issue just might be full and the timing is wrong).
I don’t mind receiving the occasional “hate mail” from aspiring writers. I do mind receiving pleas asking me how to specifically craft a story for us. For starters, there’s no magic formula, but even more important than that, I hate the idea of stifling someone’s voice. This is something that happens every once in a while, and it makes me sad.
Nope! We do everything we can to be open to everyone. We even have a special category for our younger upcoming writers called “TEEN SPIRIT” that’s a specially curated category for teens.
In just over five years, Literary Orphans went from a start-up lit mag with virtually no audience to one of the larger indie publications out there with an audience all over the world. In that time, we’ve remained completely free and have been able to keep the aesthetic and dream growing without advertisers cluttering our digital space. That’s a beautiful thing. As we continue to grow, I imagine Literary Orphans to be one of those launching points for many upcoming writers, a badge of honor to share with other alumni and creators as their carve out their web spaces.
With technology always changing, how we read and digest stories will continue to evolve. I don’t know what secrets the future may hold, but I do know that aesthetics will change to adapt to how we view our digital world through our many gadgets. How Literary Orphans looks now won’t be how it looks at the end of the next 5 years, just as its current design isn’t how it appeared in our first year. But we’ll still be there. Your port in the storm. Your beacon in a tumultuous sea of polarizing news, self-serving ads, and obsessive social media culture.
Don’t get caught up in numbers. Numbers of words per day. Numbers of pieces published. Numbers of manuscripts on your portable hard drive. When I was younger, I’d see some of the numbers other writers were collecting, and I found it very disheartening. I felt like I wasn’t committed enough. I felt like I would never make it.
But that was me missing the point of creativity entirely.
Whether you make it, in your mind, or not doesn’t matter. Creativity isn’t about numbers; it’s about tapping into something much deeper than surface-level ambitions and knowing one’s self much more intimately. Most people go about their lives and never realize who they truly are, deep down, in that insignificant crevice of space that exists between our daily thoughts. But writers, poets, and artists do. They reach inside themselves and find something beautiful and strange and meaningful in a way that “things” or “simply existing” never could be. The act of creation is more than just numbers. It’s more than just the gratification we get from eating a comforting meal. It’s meditative. Cherish it.
This is a loaded question. There are so many writers I want to name, all of whom inspire me to tap into that vein and write. Writers like Len Kuntz, Robert Vaughan, TL Sherwood, Teri Lee Kline, Anne Leigh Parrish, Meg Tuite, Gessy Alvarez, James Claffey, Peter Marra, Danny Gardner, Joe Clifford, Katie Perttunen, Bill Yarrow, Ben Spencer, Bud Smith, Judy Hall, Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu, Allegra Frazier, Gay Degani, Ray Nessly, Gill Hoffs, and Cyn Vargas have all played no small part in inspiring me to create. They’re such beautiful, spirited writers who pursue their passions in exciting and unique ways. They have much to say, and each one has shown me a different way of looking at the world.
One of the most important writers in my life is Mike Joyce. Before Literary Orphans was a thing, before I even knew that there was an indie lit community out there, Mike Joyce was the one who showed me that writing was more than just a hobby. Through Mike, writing became an ethos. It was a way of life, a way of speaking up and being brave, without mincing words. His words were (and still are) always so thoughtful, emotional, and provocative. In the small-town Americana where I grew up, writers like Mike both destroyed the things we thought were important and showed us why this little slice of Americana was important.
Scott Waldyn is a writer based in the Chicagoland area. He serves as the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Literary Orphans Journal. You can find him at ScottWaldyn.com.
Well, if that wasn’t chicken soup for your demented wordsmith soul, I do not know what is. My gratitude to Scott for his participation in consensual word porn!
As always, if you would like to hear me elaborate a bit more on my own process, you can find links to a couple of interviews conducted recently with me on my website at: https://alexschumacherart.com/about/. Drop me a line from the contact page if you have any other questions, complaints, insults, or declarations of lust.
Bread Crumbs from the Void will return in two weeks with another thrilling edition of hard-nosed reality for you big-talkers and wannabes. Until next time, keep scribbling you freaks.
Stalk Alex online: