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Westwind, Lillian Mottern (Interview)

Interviewed by Hannah Mackey


Westwind is a literary journal from the University of California, Los Angeles, that concentrates on the cultivation and sustaining of “networks between artists, writers, poets, and readers surpassing the bounds of UCLA’s campus.” They have been publishing fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, art, and music for over fifty years, and in their most recent Fall 2020 issue they feature creatives and their expressions of survival throughout the pandemic. It is a raw, very real issue that showcases the ups and downs of living during such a tumultuous time, and it demonstrates the passion and hard work Westwind puts forth in every journal that they publish. In this interview (linked below) I spoke with Westwind’s Managing Editor and Co-Fiction Editor, Lillian Mottern, about her role in the publication and her thoughts on the creative processes that occur at Westwind.

Hannah Mackey: So, what was your introduction to publishing and editing?

Lillian: That's a good question. I think that as an English major, I was sort of like always interested in that. I think that I was probably introduced to the idea of being an editor magazine subscriptions that I got when I was younger when I was like a kid, but I learned about Westwind in my first quarter at UCLA when I had just transferred over and I saw like the staff—or the board members promoting it at an English event that they were having. And I just thought it was so cool. And I've always like also loved the idea of being part of some kind of like literary society. I think that all English majors maybe have that in the back of their head like some Donna Tartt-esque, like the secret history sort of thing so... Little bit less violent, of course, but I think that was—that was sort of like my introduction was ultimately just my experience at UCLA and seeing these people like working together to put this together.

Hannah: Yeah, I definitely can say like you know, being a part of like a literary society does it...when there is like sort of that inclusion, I think that sense of community and everything is great and also great for creativity as well and innovation. So, and just like a follow up, question, how did you come—well, I guess you sort of answered this, but how did you come to be involved with West Wind and how long have you been with this press?

Lillian: I was involved with them last year. Winter of 2020 is when I really started being involved and so that was right before covid hit, but I think that—and then I've just been with them as managing editor for the past year. So I was, I guess, elected to the position in the summer of 2020.

Hannah: That’s amazing. So as managing editor at Westwind, what do you do? What are your normal things that you do as managing editor?

Lillian: I guess I interact a lot with people through email and I set up our releases. I just make sure the journal is being put together in a timely manner and I proofread the journal, which is. A really exciting part of it, I think, just to like be the final person to get to see the journal before it gets put out into the world is really exciting to me. And I have worked this past year to try to really connect Westwind with more like literary groups in Los Angeles, and it hasn't always been totally successful. It's been a process, but I think we're slowly but surely, like really spreading our wings and really trying to emerge into LA's literary scene as like a thing unto ourself? Like maybe even separate from the University. So, I'm going to graduate this year, but when I pass on the role, I hope that whoever takes it will will kind of continue that...I guess that—what we're striving to do with that.

Hannah: Of course, and this is sort of—I mean, I meant to ask this question like before, but and I know I already asked about your introduction publishing editing, but I'm curious now, so, have you had sort of a passion for writing and reading for a long time? Is that something that was more recent? How do you feel about writing and reading in the in relationship to publishing editing?

Lillian: That's a really good question, 'cause I feel like there is definitely a crossover. I have been super interested in writing since I was really young. I've always like been writing like stories and plays and poetry and all of that as I think a lot of English majors and literary inclined people do. And I think it's also reflected in the rest of our board, and our staff, often like many of them are writers in their own right, or artists or creators of some kind, musicians. So, I think that you know in some ways editing is a much more technical process—it is a lot about like logistics and money and compiling things and emailing people. And I think that I have enjoyed sort of exploring that side of my like wheelhouse of talents, because I didn't necessarily know that I would, you know, be able to—to do that 'cause I think there is like a stereotype around creatively minded people that they are sort of like frenzied and can't...stay organized, but I think that our board really shows that it is possible. I think everyone is immensely creative, but also extremely organized and also quite innovative because we haven't had any previous experience necessarily with creating like a journal of this, I guess, largeness? I don't know if that's the right word like, I think we've worked on zines before, we've done like little things like that, but this is like a full like magazine, so I think we've just had to figure it out for ourselves, but that's been a fun process, and I think that everyone is really good at what they do.