Oyster River Pages: Why did you choose Oyster River Pages?
Madison Larimore: ORP is reminiscent of home. The editors and writers selected aren’t afraid to see the world for what it is, and yet they remain wildly hopeful.
ORP: If you could tell your younger creative self anything, what would it be?
ML: You’re going to want to give up. You’re going to want to give in. Sometimes you do. But each time, the pain of silence is far greater than the pain of creating. Don’t worry; you always come crawling back.
ORP: When did you first learn that language had power? What was that experience like for you?
ML: I’ve always read, believing books to be magic. In elementary school, I told wild stories to my classmates like the ones I was reading. I realized the power of these stories when the whole class refused to use the bathroom because I had convinced them it was haunted. Since then, I’ve dedicated myself to using that power more responsibly.
ORP: What advice would you give someone who has never been published?
ML: Create a system that works for you. Once I am happy with a piece (which really just means I have done everything I possibly can to make it as strong as I possibly can—nothing is ever perfect), I commit to sending it to 10 literary magazines. Then I promptly forget I ever did, because the waiting game is long. You will receive rejections. If you receive rejections from all 10, see it as an opportunity and reminder to revise, to make the piece stronger, then submit to 10 more. You will want to give up. Don’t. Your day will come. And when the day does come, I let the piece go freely to live its own life apart from me. I no longer read it. I don’t need to. It’s burned into me. My work is done. Time to get to work on the next piece.
ORP: What are you currently working on?
ML: I am working on HumanKind: A Perspective Collection, my interview-based writing project that features first-person profiles of everyday people, now and for the rest of my life. You can visit the project at https://humankind.blog.
Madison Larimore is a writer, editor, and writing consultant, as well as an English major with a concentration in creative non-fiction at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Some of her writing can be found in Midnight Circus, Journey Literary Magazine, and 13th Floor Magazine. She was awarded the John J. McKenna fellowship and the Fund for Undergraduate Scholarly Experiences grant in 2018 for her creative non-fiction project, HumanKind, which you can learn more about at humankind.blog. Her essay, “Homeland,” appears in our current issue.