Hello everybody!! The Kickstarter for Uncanny Magazine Year 6: Raise the Roof, Raise the Rates! is now up and running and delighted to be hosting a guest post from incoming Managing Editor Chimedum Ohaegbu telling her story of being an Uncanny reader as a teen, then becoming an Intern, and then being mentored and becoming Managing Editor. Read the post, get your awwwws running then go support them because they are awesome!
“This is not the story of how he killed me, thank fuck.”
And with that I was off to the races because how could I not be, sprinting through that story and the rest of Issue 13. Then I delved back in at a walking pace, the better to savour the issue’s anger and determination. I needed both more than ever: in November 2016 I was eighteen, and a world which I’d known as unfair had become caperingly blatant about it. Issue 13 was my lucky one.
So that was the beginning.
I’m big on binge-watching, much prefer it to a weekly format. (Seven days is really long! This is why God rested after the 6th. That waiting exhausts you, that time crawls.)
Likewise with podcasts. I take breaks to let episodes pile until I can listen for hours. This was how I nearly missed the deadline for Uncanny’s editorial internship. I was rejoining the Uncanny podcast when I heard the announcement that it was the last day to apply.
Ah, I thought, so neat that I am my downfall!
After finishing my shift I calmly tore out of the library, applied all breathless, and luckily landed the job. Life lesson: stay caught up.
Some other things I learned initially:
- how to make a newsletter
- how to make a newsletter fun
- that seeing all the inner workings of your favourite magazine will only make it even more your favourite oh no how much of your heart will they lay claim to
- Twitter’s usefulness
- …for procrastination
- how to cheerlead online
The last’s important because as an (ex-?)shy person I’m a habitual lurker. With Uncanny, though, the pride the team took in what we published galvanized me into saying what I was thinking. This let me shine a spotlight on good work, inclusive work—strange things, quiet things, scary things, stories that finally loved me back—while hopefully bringing these tales to the attention of those who they’d also nourish. This was and is especially exciting to do with emerging writers.
The internship was meant to last until December of last year, and by summer I was brainstorming ways to get Uncanny to let me stay. (Brownies? I was pretty sure editorial types were into brownies. Youtube would explain the baking.) But in September thoughts of bribery were laid to rest by my promotion to assistant editor.
I’ve wanted to be an editor since I was sixteen, even though I still felt shaken by witnessing Gamergate and the Sad/Rabid Puppies—I was Black, female, in my mid-teens when it happened, and my name and culture marked me as Not the Kind of Black Person You See On North American TV even if I was a Black person in North America.
But I still wanted to edit speculative fiction. I liked the idea of helping authors push their work to dazzling heights. I liked the idea of sprinting (but, y’know, slowly) through a text and fine-tuning it to make the next reader want to run where I had, or walk here, or wheel there, or simply sit in the prose to know it. I liked, despite my fear, the idea of some neckbeard irritated by my power, and I loved, despite my fear, the idea of delighting someone like me by saying of their work: hey, this matters.
And all our publications matter so much to me—from heartrending essays like Dimas Ilaw’s “The Shape of the Darkness As It Overtakes Us”, to the environmental “Packing” by T. Kingfisher and Arkady Martine’s “Everyone’s World Is Ending All the Time”, to N.K. Jemisin’s time-bending “Henosis”, to multilayered prose poems like “Blue Flowers: Fragments” by Sofia Samatar, or the hopeful “drop some amens” by Brandon O’Brien.
Uncanny has let me apply my passion for these and many other works to my day-to-day life as its incoming Year 6 Managing Editor, alongside amazing previous/current teammates Caroline M. Yoachim, Steven Schapansky, and Erika Ensign, and new ones of astounding skill like incoming Assistant Editor Angel Cruz, Nonfiction Editor Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, and podcast reader Joy Piedmont, as well as our submissions editors. I’m thankful for the guidance I’ve received so far from the team, especially Co-Publishers & Co-Editors-in-Chief Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas and current Managing/Nonfiction Editor Michi Trota; appreciative of the community-built success of our Kickstarter so far and excited for its continued growth (still lots of time to support it!); and determined to do a lot of good and keep learning. High school me, only a few years removed from 21-year-old me, would be thrilled to bits—something she’d express shyly, sure, but with feeling.
Chimedum Ohaegbu attends the University of British Columbia in pursuit of hummingbirds and a dual degree in English literature and creative writing. She’s a recipient of both the full 2017 Tan Seagull Scholarship for Young Writers and a 2018 Katherine Brearley Arts Scholarship. She loves tisanes, insect facts but not insects, every single bird and magpies especially, and video game music. Her fondness of bad puns has miraculously not prevented her work from being published or forthcoming in Strange Horizons, The /t?mz/ Review, and The Capilano Review, among others. Find her on Twitter @chimedumohaegbu.