Smoking With Katrina Denza

Read the Story June 15, 2008
story art

You guest edited issue 13, then joined the staff for issues 14-17. What do you, as an editor, look for in a story? What about your own story “Soap” fits this criterion?

I like economy in a short piece. There’s a lot of beauty and balance to be found in the white space of a story. And I really want to be emotionally connected to what I’m reading. It’s difficult for me to judge my own work, however, when I write I also want to connect to the reader. I hope that as long as I write from a deep emotional place, the connection will follow. Which is a round-about way of saying, I really don’t know. If I had received this piece as an editor I may have taken it or I may have passed on it. One thing I would have liked about “Soap” is that it has white space.

I like that you focus the ending on Jackson, patiently waiting for her son’s hand. It’s a great moment of hope and expectation.

Thanks, Kelly. After I wrote it I realized it speaks of the faith and courage we parents have in raising our children. Faith that things will work out and the courage to let go.

“Dandelions cover the lawn: a yellow rebellion.” Wonderful line! I love the word “rebellion” in this context.

Thanks so much, Kelly. Personally, I like rebels.

What have you been up to since you left the SmokeLong staff last year?

A lot. My non-writing life has been very rich lately. As for writing, I’m working on my first novel, the first third of which has been rewritten four times. I’m finally confident I’ve found the way into the story I want to tell so that feels like a huge victory. I’m not writing as many stories, but I can’t help but write one once in awhile. I love stories!

I’ve also had the pleasure and honor of guest-editing an issue for Storyglossia.

It’s all good.

This issue marks SmokeLong‘s fifth anniversary, which has me thinking about longevity and growth. There’s no denying the literary arena is a fickle one, with journals coming and going, writers shooting onto the scene then falling into a long hiatus, editors changing houses, agents merging, and the trends! Don’t even get me started! How do you, as a writer, endure the ups and downs? Have you experienced any setbacks? What measures have you taken to grow?

Happy Anniversary!! SmokeLong is an amazing journal. I’m so glad it’s in this world.

I endure them by keeping my blinders on. I have to keep telling myself I don’t give a shit about the market or the trends or what the editors want even if I do. Because caring about all of that can be crippling. Setbacks? I’m not sure it’s a setback but one thing that surprised me was how long writing this novel would take me. At first it bothered me but I’m done fighting it. It is what it is. As far as growth, I read and write as often as I can. I hope the growth will just happen.

About the Author:

Katrina Denza lives in North Carolina with her husband and two sons. Her short fiction has been published in Ink Pot, Lynx Eye, and New Delta Review, among others.