Becky Tuch reflects Somerville's lively literary scene
Somerville resident Becky Tuch is gaining a thorough understanding of the local literary community. Tuch is the proud founder and editor of The Review Review, a website that supports the discussion and critique of literary journals and magazines. It even offers some tips on getting one's writing published, including how to write a cover letter. The website can be found at TheReviewReview.net.
Tuch hopes that her website "helps get more people reading literary journals and magazines." Website reviews are updated weekly and the homepage is updated every four or five days. She says there are around twenty people who review for TheReviewReview.net, some she met on Craigslist from around the country and some who are local.
Asked what makes a good review, Tuch says, "my favorite reviews let me know how the journal is doing." Ploughshares, AGNI, and Salamander are among her favorite local literary journals.
Tuch admits that she chose Somerville as a home sort of randomly. However, she "loves Somerville" and that it is a major attraction for writers. Tuch is originally from Brooklyn but moved to Somerville in 2002. She moved to the Boston area originally to work in a psychology research clinic, pondering graduate school in the subject. Also, her brother was a student at MIT and "couldn't stop telling me how great Boston was." Tuch says that she has stayed in the area "because the literary scene is so vital and supportive."
When she's not at the helm of The Review Review, Tuch is admittedly doing "odd jobs" and waitressing. Writing remains a very important part of her life, as she writes short stories and is currently on her first novel. She has won awards for her writing in Briar Cliff Review, Byline, and The Tennessee Writers Alliance. Moreover, she has published stories in Blueline and Eclipse, reviews in Artsmedia and The Women's Review of Books, and has a poem forthcoming in Connecticut River Review. In 2008, she received special mention in the 2008 Pushcart Prize Anthology.
She spent her undergraduate years at Oberlin College in Ohio. Tuch began as a volunteer but is now an instructor teaching young adults at Grub Street in Boston. "I also do the occasional adult seminar, and the Brown Bag Lunch series." Grub Street is a non-profit creative writing center that offers courses, seminars and conferences aimed at nurturing writing in the community.
Although she says she never thought much about being a writer as a kid, she "simply wrote." "Both my parents were English teachers, and so it was natural that I gravitated toward playing with language." In her early twenties she began to consider writing as a career path. "I had the crazy idea that being a writer would give me greater control of my career."
Tuch believes that it is important to establish "a writerly lifestyle" that fuels the creative process. However, she also espouses the more practical and business-like side to being a writer; "writers need to be marketers, promoters of their work." She admits that at first she was naïve about the publishing industry. Getting published often feels to her "like some horrifying mix between an audition, an extended job interview and a talent show contest."
But Tuch shuns MFA programs. "There's no need for an MFA when you live in a literary community [like Somerville]," she says. A master's degree often helps writers get published thanks to the connections acquired. However, Tuch believes that anyone can find those connections. On her website she asserts that "there are a trillion readings, conferences, cafes, parties, workshops and seminars just begging for your wonderful presence. If you go to these, you will invariably meet people who can give you advice or even a publishing leg-up." Psychologist and teacher are among the other career options Tuch has considered. "I've also fantasized about being a librarian, but I think I'd get really annoyed whenever someone asked me for help. "
Tuch has a lot of enthusiasm for Somerville and its thriving literary community. She notes, "the streets of Somerville are crawling with writers." Among her favorite local writers are Jenna Blum, Chris Castellani, and Dennis Lehane. A fan of older authors in general, one of her favorite books is Native Son by Richard Wright.
When she is not writing, Becky Tuch enjoys phone conversations with her parents, taking walks, running, cooking, watching movies and just hanging out with friends. "That's all pretty mundane stuff, but it's also special and keeps me sane."
You will find Becky Tuch working on her first novel or possibly a short story at her preferred Somerville hangouts, the Diesel Cafe, where she has an internet account, or possibly Bloc 11 Cafe. As for writing itself, she proclaims, "I love it now as much as I loved it when I was eight years old."