On Being Fringe-Worthyby Llalan Fowler, Llalan Fowler • 06.27.2013
Fringe published its last issue on Monday, June 24. Today, nonfiction editor Llalan Fowler talks about the fabled, ethereal quality of “fringey-ness.”
I began my studies in the publishing program at Emerson College in 2008. It didn’t take many cups of Dunkin in the student lounge or after-class beers at The Tam to figure out that the Fringe Girls were A-listers. They were all strong and confident and spoke with ease about issues in the world that needed to be talked about and they all had great haircuts. Their group was a tight knot of very independent women bound by intense loyalty and compassionate friendship.
To say I was flattered when they asked me to become nonfiction editor in 2009 is an understatement. They trusted me with a whole entire genre? And the truthiest one, at that! But perhaps more importantly, I was a Fringe Girl. With my new title as Fringe Girl came a responsibility to stand up for what I believed in, and not just by telling people what I thought was right, but by doing.
Though I felt most comfortable with nonfiction of all the genres, it still took a while to become comfortable managing other nonfiction writers — to be able to put into words what it was I knew worked and what I knew didn’t. I found deep inside me a reservoir of Fringeyness that glowed like a red beacon when I read something that needed to be in our journal. I felt that need to share first and urgently with Jon Chopan’s “The Oldest Guilt I Know,” the first piece I published. Later Jon would be the first author I ever hosted for a reading at my bookstore. The relationships I made with writers through Fringe have been rich and lasting.
After that initial publication I found my place in the Fringe rhythm. To be honest, I hardly read one cover letter before reviewing a submission; seemed like cheating. Instead, I read the piece and waited for that illuminating moment that told me it was Fringe-worthy. Perhaps it is no surprise then that many of these writers were women or minorities or were being published for the first time. Every piece stood on its own and earned its place, much as I earned my place in Fringe.
I am proud of every piece I published, several of which went on to win awards. I am proud of myself for rising to the occasion and keeping up with the steadily rising standards of nonfiction. I am proud of Fringe and everyone who has been a part of it for knowing what needed to be done and doing it.