Meet the Editors: Hannah Wolt
Updated: Dec 13, 2019
Hey Hannah, Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m from the DFW area in Texas, currently live in south Texas, but spent the past few years in Guam. My husband is in the military, so moving frequently is just a part of life. We’ll be moving again in a year or so, but won’t know where until just a few months before. It’s an adventure to say the least. We have a dog, Hunter, and a very large cat, Teddy, whom Hunter fears.
As a military spouse I don’t live in one permanent location, and it can be difficult to cultivate a traditional career, so most of my work is freelance writing/editing and volunteering. I founded Military Wild, an outdoor recreation community for military families, and I recently joined the editing team at the Outdoor Women’s Alliance, which provides mentorship for women in the outdoor recreation sphere of the publishing world.
Awesome, both of those organizations sound like grand adventures. You’ve already revealed a little about your passions, but tell us more about your interests outside of Steel House Review and writing.
All things outdoors. If I’m not at my computer, I’m probably on a trail or in a canoe with a camera in hand. Most of my and my husband’s trips together revolve around hiking, cooking on two burner stoves, and sleeping in tents.
Military Wild has been a culmination of my love for the outdoors and our journey as a military family. I really struggled finding my purpose and adjusting to a new lifestyle when we moved to Guam, and bringing military families together to get out and explore with one another, as cliché as it sounds, changed the course of my life.
I’m also quite taken with photography, mainly landscape, and I’ve been putting a lot of practice into my editing process lately.
It’s amazing that you created a space for community where you needed one and that the community has helped others as well. And now, the question we’ve all been waiting for--How do all those personality tests--created by someone who doesn’t know you--define you?
Enneagram Type: Type 3 with a 4 Wing, pretty much anything you might read about type 3’s is undeniably true of me
Myers Briggs: I’m right in the middle of INFP and INTP, I’m also in the middle of -A and -T. I always score right around the 50% mark on Thinking/Feeling and Assertive/Turbulent
Astrological Sign: Capricorn, whatever that means
Right on the line huh? Shows them for trying to put you in a box! Now the real personality test--What’s your go-to food order?
Sour cream chicken enchiladas, Chile relleno, or Thai yellow/green curry
Spoken like a true Texan (who’s spent some time in the Pacific Northwest). We love lifelong learning at SHR. How do you promote your own growth outside of an academic setting?
I currently have around 80 podcasts in my queue, and it’s a pretty average day. I thrive on the constant intake of information, and I love that I can listen to a podcast while doing almost anything else (other than writing and reading of course). My go-to subjects are writing, outdoor recreation, entrepreneurial/leadership, and politics.
Podcasts are a great way to soak up some information while doing the laundry. Maybe SHR should host one sometime. Now for a hard one. What’s something you’ve failed at?
What’s your definition of “fail” ha! I left a 40-day hike early once. I don’t regret the reasoning behind it, but I still feel the pull to go back and “finish” it.
I thought I would’ve finished my novel long ago, but I’m also okay with the fact that my writing is growing and changing. I’m enjoying the projects I’ve been working on in the meantime, and I’ll finish my novel when the time is right.
Now let’s talk writing…When did you really know you wanted to be a writer?
I grew up living in books. I was always reading. I spent summers in my tree fort reading, and hated arriving at our destinations on road trips because it meant I had to put down my book. So I’m not surprised that I eventually fell into writing.
My college career was...varied. I began as a pre-med student with early medical school acceptance, and graduated as a double major in English and Environment and the Humanities--EVHM for short, which is an eclectic mixture of writing, science, and all things nature.
When I started working at my university’s outdoor recreation program during sophomore year, I fell in love with leading and teaching in outdoor environments, which led me to completely shift gears away from the medical field and toward outdoors-related studies. The EVHM program emphasized a wide base of knowledge, with writing and environmental focus across multiple disciplines. After a couple of semesters in EVHM and English classes, I realized how much I enjoyed writing and added creative writing as a second major.
Are there any authors, stories, or books in particular that have shaped your writing journey?
I tend to read nonfiction, especially about places I visit or that are special to me. I always enjoy work by John Muir, Thoreau, and similar authors. Wallace Stegner’s “Wilderness Letter” is one of my favorites.
A few of my favorite short stories are “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin, “The Ceiling” by Kevin Brockmeier, and “The Swimmer” by John Cheever.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy is one of my favorite novels.
Do you find yourself writing about similar subjects?
Overall I would probably say yes. Most of my writing is either short creative nonfiction about places or my own experiences, or work on my novel. I need to get some short story drafts going again though, I have a million random notes on my phone with short story ideas--most of my ideas have dystopian themes.
What about your work in progress, does it fall into one of those categories?
Which one? (That has “multi-passionate enneagram type 3” written all over it, doesn’t it?)
I have a novel that’s been in-progress, or maybe not-progress, for a few years. It’s a dystopian look at what the world’s missing, through the eyes of a young, terrified, but driven journalist.
I’m also working on some blogging and article content for a few different platforms, which has been a fun shift in writing style for a change. Some of it is outdoor related. It’s nice to write in multiple disciplines, and the variety helps me appreciate coming back to literary content that much more.
Are there any essential things you keep in your writing workspace?
That’s a tough one. I’ve written in a lot of different places--a rock climbing gym (where I started my novel actually), the balcony of our Guam home overlooking the ocean, the cozy living room of our military base housing in south Texas.
I guess my only necessity is my laptop. I like making notes with pen and paper, but I can’t stand writing that way. If I could design my dream writing space, I’d choose a cozy space (think comfy chair, houseplants, big window, candles). I usually have a drink like coffee or sparkling water, and a snack. I also usually have a cat distracting me with his antics.
As we wrap up, let's shift to Steel House Review. How did you come into the SHR family?
A few fellow English students/friends formed a writing workshop during my final semester in college. We would meet once a week to destroy and then rebuild each other’s writing. Those late nights in the Lubbock winter discussing writing over beers hold some of my favorite memories.
A few years down the road the workshop group discussed the idea of creating a literary journal, and Steel House Review was born. The group members and editors have changed occasionally over the years, but the passion in writing and the mission of SHR persists.
Why did you choose to be an editor for nonfiction and fiction at SHR?
I only edit what I know best, which is not poetry. My own writing and education is split right down the middle between fiction and creative nonfiction, so that’s what I’m comfortable in and passionate about.
Are there any common issues you see in submission pieces that tend to result in a publication rejection?
Unpolished, aka not well-edited – grammar, syntax, typos, etc.
Inconsistent narrative voice or point of voice
Unrelated or unnecessary tangents – too much exposition or too many asides that aren’t beneficial to the story
All great tips for both submitting and writing in general. As a send-off, if you could go back in time, is there any advice you might give yourself as a younger writer?
Who’s idea was this question anyway? What a difficult question to answer. I feel like I still don’t know much. I'm the writer I am today because of what I've struggled with and learned in the past. I think we, as creators and artists, are constantly learning and being inspired by new things and pulled in different directions. I guess I wish I had known what it meant to be a “writer”. I wish I knew what it felt like to have my status as a writer questioned--what it felt like to look that in the face and know that someone else’s opinion of me could not dictate who or what I am. I think if we all started off with that, we wouldn’t be so afraid of our own failure. It’s a part of the process. If I finish my novel, that’s wonderful. If I don’t, then I’ve learned a great deal about myself and my writing, and I’ll be better for it. None of that makes me a "writer". I write, therefore I am, ya know?