final round, staff edition: black hole, no light

here it is, the final installment of our contributor Q&As. to wrap things up, we're answering our own questions, because it's only fair, right? if you want to know how five women put together a magazine biannually, you'll find the answers in here. hint: productivity requires incessant anxiety.

featuring Alys Velazquez (poetry editor), Kelsey Nolan (submissions editor), Yuiko Sugino (graphic designer), Molly Cranna (creative director), and Taylor Yates (editor-in-chief).

are you an early bird or a night owl? what is your favorite time of day?

AV: I am most definitely a night owl. I just feel energized at night. my favorite time of day is somewhere around 2am.

KN: neither! I wish I could say I was a morning person - my dad has always been and I’m envious of it. I love the idea of being a morning person, creating while the world sleeps. the truth is, I love sleep too much and I feel like I’m always tired. I’m most productive after a good meal and lots of tea - around 11 am? and what’s even more truthful is I am far more energized to work if I feel I’m on “borrowed” time. like, calling in sick to work and spending the day writing. my room is never as clean as when I’m supposed to be doing something else like going out with friends or answering emails. 

YS: I am definitely a night owl, but I'm also the type who'd rather take care of things with an early start (except for this questionnaire, oops). the sooner I get things done, the better. so, that means I get up early tackle tasks and duties as swiftly as I can... and then foolishly stay up late for some (Netflix) shenanigans. I find myself most relaxed later in the evenings.

MC: early bird - I'm pretty much only productive in the morning. I like 9am a lot.

TY: for a long time I envied people who could sleep in, but these days I'm happy getting up between 7 and 8 without an alarm. my favorite time of day is when I've just woken up--the air is still and quiet, and it's a good day when I get to soak it in and get thoughts organized without having to rush to get somewhere.

where are you/what are you doing when your creative ideas usually strike?

AV: at the bar, generally. late night, writing on cocktail napkins. listening to strangers' conversations. 

KN: never anywhere convenient. the car, usually, or in the shower. the times in my life I’ve felt most creative is when there some area that is causing me to be discontent. family troubles, breakups, transitions - which lends itself to sad prose. I have to work harder for the funny stuff. 

YS: if by creative ideas, you mean unique cat names, then that will be right as I am falling asleep. but for everything else, I don't really have a specific moment or location. since visual presentations are what I do, I tend to grab inspiration from everything that surrounds me - anytime, anywhere.

MC: sadly, I'm usually in front of my computer. or sometimes I'm in bed at night - just about to fall asleep. oh! and a lot of time on airplanes.

TY: everywhere all the time, but it's hard for me to stay still enough to get them down. nothing does the trick like a hot bath - my demons can't take the heat and once they're exorcised, all the ideas that have been held hostage are free to find each other and click. I can't remember a single bath I've stepped out of that didn't leave me reaching for a pen and paper or tape recorder.

are you a creature of habit/routine or are you comfortable kept on your toes?

AV: I don't know if I'm comfortable kept on my toes, but I am not a creature of habit. I wish I had some solid routine going on, I'm going to work on that.

KN: I don’t do well without habits. I prefer not to have them but I am one to justify falling out of self-imposed habits like exercising regularly or writing everyday if it turns into something I don’t want to do, or if something I’d rather do better comes up. the more structure I have, the better for productivity - but I find the spontaneity way more fun (and drunken). 

MC: I'm a creature of habit but I chose a career that constantly takes me out of my comfort zone.

YS: I hate changing my routine, even if it means I get to sleep in on a workday. advanced scheduling and tight deadlines keep me sane.

TY: if I catch myself realizing that I've always done something a certain way, I force myself to try a new way -too much routine makes me start to short circuit. whenever I sense my brain needs a reset, I pick a place to start my day and let my curiosity guide me from there. that said, I have just returned to making to-do lists because I almost went insane without them, and I try to do a bit of writing every morning.

what is your most helpful flaw?

AV: I have boundary issues, which keep me unreasonably distant from some people, and unnecessarily close to others. it's definitely a flaw, but I have developed intensely personal relationships that are vital to my understanding of the human experience.

KN: impulsiveness. it’s led to some terribly brilliant adventures creatively, professionally, and personally. it makes me the life of the party and gives me plenty of funny stories and it’s led to a point in my life where I can legitimately say I regret nothing. so far, anyways. VIVA SELFISHNESS!

MC: I have tons of anxiety, but I find it helps me relate to most people, mostly because most people have tons of anxiety.

YS: I worry too much. like, over-the-top. but that helps me stay on top of things. it helps me gear my focus on everyone and everything that needs my attention, and it's allowed me to better understand humans and their sensitivities. that being said, I've learned to be more carefree about concerns I've had in the past, because, as they say it, life is short.

TY: I am driven by emotional extremes. when I am excited I am INCREDIBLY ENTHUSIASTIC! when I am anxious, I question everything. when I am down, I slip into a deeeeep, deep darkness. growing up, my energy overwhelmed a lot of people, so I spent years trying to tether myself to neutrality to make everyone else more comfortable - obviously, I ended up very unhappy. now I know to let myself just Go There - doing so bounces me back to my own center naturally, and I'm able to channel the experience creatively. and it brings the right people into my life: the ones who are supportive, share my enthusiasm (or at least do their best to bear it), don't just tell me to calm down, and know how to nurture me when I'm in my black hole.

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