Erynn Porter has BFA in Creative Writing from the New Hampshire Institute of Art and is currently Assistant Editor and Staff Writer for Quail Bell Magazine. She has been published in ROAR, Brooklyn Mag, Ravishly, Extract(s), The Mighty, and Quail Bell Magazine. She often jumps between her interests of writing fiction and nonfiction, short stories and children’s books, and to anything else that grabs her attention. You can often find her eating candy while editing her own work; she claims that candy is the perfect editing food. When Erynn isn’t editing, she’s reading with a cat curled up beside her.
For Creative Girls: We like to understand childhood experiences that stand out. Is there any childhood experience that is of great significance in your mind and memory?
I love this question. I feel that in general childhoods don’t get enough credit to shaping who we become as adults. I remember a lot of books. My mother would read to me every night, then when I could start reading myself she would let me read to her. I also remember my maternal grandfather, he died when I was young, but he always liked how energetic I was and curious I was. He never told me to slow down or stop asking questions. He would always have M&Ms and I would “steal” them from him. He gave them to me but then ratted me out to my mom. Now that I think about it, maybe that’s where my sweet tooth comes from.
Why did you choose to get a BFA? Have you always been drawn to writing?
I chose to get a BFA truly because I didn’t get enough writing classes in high school. New Hampshire Institute of Art had the type of classes I wanted to take and I liked that visual art would be part of my education even if I didn’t take a ton of classes. NHIA happened to have a BFA program versus a BA so that was just luck.
As for writing, I’ve always been drawn towards writing, as a kid, I would love reading and making up stories. Though the physical act of putting pen to paper was difficult because I could not stay still for a long time. My mom told me I was going to be a writer when I was eight and I thought she was crazy. I couldn’t even keep up a diary. Why are moms always right? Is that something that develops later on in life? It’s like a superpower.
What’s life like every day as an Editor? What does your routine look like from when you wake up in the morning?
Honestly, it’s a lot of answering emails, haha! It’s not a bad thing but a lot of communication happens between the writer and the editor before the work is even published. The best part about emailing is making someone’s day when you tell them their work has been accepted. Other than emails, I get to read a lot of interesting pieces from both established and upcoming writers as I format them for the sites.
My routine varies because I do have a day job and the Editor jobs are volunteer for both Quail Bell Magazine and Ravishly. Usually, I wake up around 6 in the morning and look at my emails. I look to see if there are new emails, which I could respond to quickly before going to work. I also look at my personal email as well because I freelance in very little free time. Then when I get home from work in the evening I answer any email I missed in the morning and upload pieces to whichever site has work submitted to it.
I’m sorry it’s not super exciting!
Hahaha. It sounds pretty interesting. You read a lot, we see a couple of your current reads that you share. How do you pick the next book to read?
I love to read; I find it relaxing. As for picking the next book to read, right now I’m trying to build my book review career so I read books coming out in the next couple months to review. But mostly I follow my favorite authors on social media and when they like a book I add it to my list. I read a lot about books and book blurbs and if they interest me I try to find a way to read them. I don’t really have a set list or idea, it’s just whatever grabs my attention. I have noticed that in the past six months I’ve been trying to read more feminist texts and books by women.
What value and change do you hope to add to the universe through your work?
As cheesy as it is… I just want to make a difference. There is so much awful in the world that I want to help make it a little less awful. I want to tell stories that people might be afraid to tell themselves, especially when I write about my health issues. I have felt so alone for so long that I want to connect to people and find someone like me that feels alone and show them they are not. I am here. I am surviving. You can too.
In your perspective and experience, how should an artist be primed for repeated great performance and execution of their skill/art?
Find out how YOU work. Artists are all going to say one thing or another about how they are productive and it might not work for you. For example, all throughout college, I heard you had to write every day to successful. I personally find that straining and exhausting, so I don’t do that. But that doesn’t mean I don’t do something, whether it’s reading, or watching a cool movie or documentary, or social media I find something to do. I tried to write every day and it was awful. It felt like straining a muscle and it felt very unnecessary to me.
What’s your definition of creativity? And how do you handle creative/writer’s block?
Oh! that’s tough, creativity is really a very abstract idea. I would say creativity is anything that gets your mind moving. You can be creative artistically, physically, you could solve problems creatively, it all works. I remember arguing with a professor once that the entrepreneurs on Shark Tank were really creative and he disagreed. He thought of creatively only in the art sense but have you seen some of the stuff those people come up with?
As for blocks, well sometimes it’s a sign I’ve been working on something too hard and too long. So I walk away for a while. Maybe I start a new project, maybe I read, maybe I shower, maybe I clean because I’ve been sitting for so long it will do me some good to exercise. I don’t want to sound flakey and say wait for it to solve itself but at the same time, you can’t force a block to break.
Can you share a couple of your favorite websites, platforms plus women you admire?
Teen Vogue for sure! What they have been doing in the past few months is mind blowing. I want to work with them so badly. Is bad to share Quail Bell Magazine and Ravishly since I work there? This is hard because some of my favorite places I’ve been lucky enough to get published in. Oh man, that seemed like a total humblebrag but it isn’t. I also love what ROAR is doing, this is an up and coming feminist lit mag edited and run by writers I admire, Anna March and Porochista Khakpour. Brooklyn Magazine has a lot of great pieces about art and writing. I really love The Mighty because it’s a great space for people to talk about the daily life with illnesses, disorders, and anything else in between. The Cambridge Writer’s Workshop is a great place for emerging writers and artists, I was lucky enough to do a retreat with them and then become an intern. The directors, Rita Banerjee and Norma Szokolyai, are women I really admire because they are always working.
Finally, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t mention my admiration for Leslie Jamison. I adore work and she is so kind and wonderful in real life.
What are you currently reading?
A lot of books coming out this year, again because of my budding review career. Currently, it’s Free Men, Free Women by Camille Paglia, next will be All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg, Double Bind edited by Robin Romm, and Somebody with a Little Hammer by Mary Gaitskill.
Follow Erynn on Twitter and Facebook.