Q&A With Creative Writing Alum Gina Tomaine

Magazine and cup of coffee

What’s a typical day like for you at your current job?

I am the deputy lifestyle editor at Philadelphia magazine. Every day, I am working on creating the front of book lifestyle section of our monthly print magazine, as well as ensuring that our website is dynamic and updated with the latest print content as well as new original digital stories. I am looking for leads for new and exciting businesses, makers, designers, and cultural trends to cover in the magazine so we stay current and on top of what’s happening in the city, with the emphasis on the local and the unique. I also work closely with the art team to plan how all of the stories will appear, whether it’s planning a photoshoot or discussing an illustration we could run for an essay.

Do you have any advice for current grad students in Emerson’s MFA Creative Writing program?
Talk to your teachers, attend panels, talk to the panelists. Ask for advice, direction, help, etc. constantly. You don’t get what you don’t ask for, and when you do ask, most people are more than happy to lend a helping hand (and flattered as well.) Be considerate of their time, and be specific in what you’re asking for. Know your goals and go after them.

What’s the best advice/or guidance you received as an Emerson student?
I really enjoyed Jabari Asim’s class because we started each class with publishing news, in which he was so well-steeped from his many publications and his years in multiple aspects of the business. We would read up on what books were sold, who was writing what, what authors were doing this or that. I think this was incredibly helpful as often in creative graduate school we can be too focused on the art and creation part, and not enough on the highly necessary business part of it. That’s the part that’s actually going to get our work in front of people, so it’s vitally important to give respect to both. I learned so much there. I also greatly enjoyed Jerald Walker’s class because he was so devoted to craft, and to a constructive workshop environment, and made me only want to hand in work I had worked on tirelessly to weed out cliche, judgment, unfinished narratives, and the like.

Gina Tomaine is a Philadelphia-based writer and editor. She is currently Deputy Lifestyle Editor of Philadelphia magazine and was previously Associate Deputy Editor of Rodale’s Organic Life. She has been published in The Boston GlobeBoston magazine, The Philadelphia InquirerMen’s HealthWomen’s HealthYoga JournalRunner’s WorldComplexBustleEntropyWhirlwindApiary, and Painted Bride Quarterly, among others, and wrote frequently for NPR’s “From the Top” podcast, where she interviewed classical musicians. She has lectured in composition and literature at Saint Joseph’s University and Rosemont College. She earned her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Emerson College on a Presidential Fellowship.