interview: Brianna Van Dyke
when you picture someone reading your magazine, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for? and how do you see your work as an editor nourishing others?
I picture our readers curled up in a cozy reading chair, or in the bathtub (my favorite reading place), or on the bus, or at the park, or in bed.
Ruminate is made with love and care—from the selection and editing process to the production. It’s printed on creamy white paper and our creative director, Anne Pageau, hand sketches/writes many of the graphic design details, and we make sure there’s room in the budget for our four-color art reproductions in the center spread.
We take this love and care with the magazine content and also with the magazine production because we want the whole project to be beautiful, to be something you want to hold in your hands and pause over, something that inspires a quiet reading moment and the chance for mystery and imagination to meet.
how do you see your work as an editor and writer as a practice of spiritual exploration, discipline, or growth? can you offer any practical advice or sure-fire practices for folks interested in allowing writing to inform their spiritual discipline?
I think the practice of writing and reading fosters an awareness of the world, helping me to look up and look outward and be more mindful, and it encourages quiet—something I crave and often am lacking. I am more fully aware of beauty and pain—more fully alive—when I write or when I read something that is nourishing.
I love what the poet Christian Wiman says, “Let us remember that in the end we go to poetry for one reason, so that we might more fully inhabit our lives and the world in which we live them, and that if we more fully inhabit these things, we might be less apt to destroy both.” While I’m not sure there’s just one reason we go to poetry or art—I’ve already listed more than one!—this certainly is a good one and it rings true in my gut.
as a writer, when you approach your desk, journal, computer—where ever it is you tend to create—what are some of the processes you use? what’s going through your mind? tell us about your habits of writing, no matter how quirky, mundane, strange, or small.
I often practice lectio divina during my writing time—my writing and my prayers really overlap. And if I can, I try and get outside—next to the river is ideal.
Lately, I’ve been taking my notebook with me when I go to the grocery store, and I make a pit stop at a park nearby and just write for 15 or 20 minutes.
I also had some recent success doing an overnight trip to a local monastery that has a retreat center connected to it. My husband watched the kids and I just wrote. It was affordable and the atmosphere was really conducive to writing.
Making the time to write is a challenge for just about everyone. I commend Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and John Leax’s Grace is Where I Live to you for some lovingly helpful and practical advice.
as an editor, what’s the best advice you can give to a person just beginning to write, struggling to write, or feeling stuck? what’s something you wish someone had told you starting out?
I would suggest looking into the literary magazine community—you’ll find a lit mag for just about any niche you can think of—and it is often an encouragement to see like-minded writers and readers out there.
And if your goal is to have an audience for your writing, I encourage you to start submitting—submit, submit, submit. A great place to start is Duotrope. I would also say make sure you’re reading—that you remember you’re taking part in a larger conversation. It shocks me how many people submit to literary magazines and then how few are actually reading the various lit mags out there.
If your goal is to write as a spiritual practice and you aren’t interested in publishing anything, then I encourage you to find a group of writers with this same goal or start a group if you can’t find one—share some of the insight and thoughts you are having in your writing practice and be encouraged together. Community is good.
Brianna Van Dyke is the founder and editor-in-chief of Ruminate Magazine. She loves Annie Dillard, hoppy beer, the ocean, and afternoons of friends, cribbage, and tea. Brianna lives with her husband and their two children in Fort Collins, Colorado, where their favorite activity is summer barbeques along the Poudre River. And yes, the winter months are long months, but their dogs Forest and Truman and lizards Sid and Liz keep them company.
Also, be sure to attend the joint Antler/Ruminate event at F&W2012!