Hannah Heimbuch is the assistant nonfiction editor at The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review. Here she shares how the journal has expanded her world of nonfiction reading and writing.
Question: How did you learn about or become involved with Eckleburg?
Hannah Heimbuch: I met managing editor Chelsey Clammer at our first grad school residency at Pacific Lutheran University last year. We’re both avid readers and — hopefully — writers of edgy nonfiction. She invited me to become a part of the Eckleburg team last fall. It’s been an awesome new challenge to be a working part of a journal like Eckleburg. Interacting with hardworking, innovative writers and editors is not only fascinating work, but it has offered me opportunities for growth in my own writing. I am constantly inspired by how the writers that work for and submit to Eckleburg push to get their complex experiences and emotions down on the page in new ways.
Q: What role do you have?
HH: I am fortunate enough to edit nonfiction submissions for the journal. Going into a new submission is exciting. I know that someone has trusted me with their very real and often emotional life experiences, and it’s an amazing privilege to be allowed insight into their lives.
Q: What are you looking for in submissions?
HH: I definitely look for a high quality of writing craft — concise but descriptive language that thinks outside the box. But beyond that, I look for honesty. Evidence that a writer has dug down beneath the factual events of what they’re conveying, beyond initial reactions, and has challenged him or herself to look deep into the self, the experience, and their own writerly skills for a powerful story.
Q: What are some publications you have/accomplishments you want to share?
HH: Right now I’m very focused on completing my first year of grad school at the Rainier Writing Workshop. I’m proud to be a part of that program, and am working hard to finish a first draft of a nonfiction book about my life as a commercial fisherman. When I’m not fishing, I am a community news journalist in my hometown of Homer, Alaska. While reporting has given me an opportunity to tell great stories, it’s been amazing to open up my writing life to include more storytelling in the creative writing genre. Rainier and Eckleburg have been essential in that regard.
Q: How do you approach writing?
HH: Here’s the cosmic answer: There’s a reason that so many writers use metaphors of birth and mothering when it comes to describing their writing. It is like nurturing a small creature into the world, or building a home for a real and breathing story to live in. There are any number of forms a particular story might take. I feel like I gather all the body parts, then put it together, shifting and sweet-talking all these working elements until I sense that they’re in the right place. That they are telling the story that I can feel, whole and alive, inside myself.
The practical answer? When I am called to tell a story, I write it all down. Often poorly. And then I go back and move and reword and reshape again and again. I read it out loud constantly. Until I read a sentence and say, YES, that’s exactly what I mean. I work by feel and instinct, and then I work meticulously, examining every word.
Q: In five words or less, describe what kind of journal you think Eckleburg is.
HH: A space for daring art.
Hannah Heimbuch is a community news journalist and commercial fisherman in Homer, Alaska. She is working on her Master’s of Fine Arts through the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University, and is the assistant nonfiction editor at The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review.