Emma Catherine Perry
Emma joined the Editorial Board in 2020. She is the Assistant Director of the UGA Writing Center and a graduate student instructor in the Department of English.
What topics do you enjoy writing about?
I write about extrahuman systems of knowledge production (or discovery), and I’m particularly interested in artificial intelligence and tarot as systems of surfacing subconscious or unconscious information.
Are you working on a current project? If yes, what is it?
I am! I am currently working on a poetry collection, and I am also working on a critical project that is trying to imagine a posthuman composition mode.
What is your writing process?
I try to take lots of notes as I’m reading—that’s usually how I discover what I am interested in writing about! Once I have a topic in mind, I write a really big, rambling brainstorm so that I have my ideas where I can see them. Once I have some written material from which to work, I will start to build an outline. While I do most of my writing on Google docs, this outline phase will often take a more analog form: I like to use post-it notes in conjunction with lined paper to manually construct a schematic of my argument that sprawls all over the kitchen table. Once I have a shape I like, then I will type that information into a document where it is easier to flesh out paragraphs into a first full draft. If time allows, I like to take a few days off (ideally a whole week) between drafts. That way, I can approach each stage of the writing process with fresh eyes. I always print full drafts so that I can read and mark up a physical copy as I prepare to move to the next draft. Sometimes I only need to do three drafts, but I have done as many as eight.
In your opinion, what is the value of writing? Why do you write?
Writing is an opportunity to make something more permanent and artful out of your ideas than speech allows. Writing is a method of affirming the importance of my ideas to myself and a method of pushing those ideas past their initial forms into deeper, richer territories.
Describe your experience working with undergraduate students. What does that relationship look like to you? What have you learned? What have you taught?
I have been teaching undergraduate writers for nine years at four different institutions. I have taught first-year writing, creative writing, and intro to world literature. Because the students I have worked with are so diverse, my experiences have ranged very widely, though there are commonalities; whether I am working with first-year students at Cornell or UGA toward their bachelor’s degrees, or whether I am working with older, incarcerated students toward their associate’s degrees, I try to remember that every writer has a different process and a different point of view they are bringing to the world through their writing. I have learned that the most effective student-teacher relationship is collaborative and that the most powerful thing I can do as a writing instructor is serve as a mentor, supporting students toward their writing goals.
Describe your experience with the publishing process.
I have a critical article currently under its third round of review, and I have placed poems and creative nonfiction pieces with national literary journals. The critical and creative publishing processes are very different! While they both take a long time, I have found the critical publishing process to be much slower and more methodical. I think this is because writers can only submit their critical work to one place at a time and because the editorial peer review process is highly involved.
What is your biggest writing pet peeve?
I don’t believe in pet peeves! Every writer and every piece of writing is different, and therefore requires a different lens through which to view them. I have seen some techniques or tics that drive me up the wall with one writer be used to wonderful and beautiful effect with another. It really depends!
Name one writing tip you believe more people need to employ.
Revision, revision, revision. No one can produce something perfect on the first try, and I think writing would be less stressful for many people if they started the process planning to move through two or three drafts before they produce something that works.