The 2015 Santa Fe Literary Review is in, and looking good, with a great cover and content. This is my last issue as the main faculty advisor. It is a good feeling to turn that position over to the capable leadership of Kate McCahill, who welcomes a new student staff this fall. Fabulous community based editors Sudasi Clement and Meg Tuite helped create the issue along with a creative and hard working staff staff: Baro Shalizi, Lydia Gonzales, and Veronica Clark. Kudos to them for all the vision and effort that gives SFLR its flavor and helps boost it to a national—and international—magazine.
I’ll be staying on to consult, particularly about production cycles, and maybe do some editorial pinch hitting as needed. In honor of this change, I’m going to reblog some thoughts I’ve had about what it means to be an editor—a different side of the table than a writer.
My Life As An Editor
It began in high school when my friend Alma and I published an underground literary magazine, THE PURPLE DRAGON. It continued when I answered a desperate plea from ASPECT MAGAZINE’S Ed Hogan to read poetry–he’d started the mag as an anti-war publication and poetry started pouring in. He and I went on to found ZEPHYR PRESS. Then my husband Robert Winson started FISH DRUM MAGAZINE and our Santa Fe mailbox started filling up. I went on to create the first e-zine in New Mexico, with poet’s techie Miriam Bobkoff, which was SANTA FE POETRY BROADSIDE (sfpoetry.org). Joan Logghe, Renee Gregorio and I founded the collaborative press TRES CHICAS BOOKS and when I was hired over ten years ago at Santa Fe Community College we began to publish THE SANTA FE LITERARY REVIEW.
After almost fifty years of small press and literary publishing, I have some advice to writers:
1. The editor is not your enemy.
2. The editor is not making money off your work.
3. Rather, the editor is working for free and often supporting the publication off the household budget.
4. The editor is not a god–rather than using Platonic standards, the editor is using her or his taste.
5. When a magazine or press accepts your work the editor is doing you a favor.
6. If the editor makes a mistake–a typo for example–this is an honest error and not done to torment you.
While I certainly have had writers thank me, often publishing someone is fraught with difficulty. The writer seems to want something–fame, fortune, coddling–that the editor cannot provide. Why is this? Is it that writers generally feel so neglected and needy that they don’t know how to behave?
In the original blog, I went on to complain:
“A journalist once told me that in parts of Latin America writers bring their editors little treats–particularly pastry wrapped in paper. I’ve published probably a thousand writers, and not one pastry!”
However, in a miraculous moment of writing influencing reality, one writer I’ve published, who happens to be a food professional, took note. I don’t want to reveal my secret angel’s identity, but let me say that a lot of cake—both chocolate and carrot—has consistently come my way. Has it made me outrageously happy? Yes indeed.
Even if you aren’t going to provide editors with cake, you can give:
1. Common courtesy.
2. An understanding that you are not the only writer. Asking “where is my poem” of a volunteer who reads bushels each day shows a misunderstanding of how a press or magazine works.
3. Thanks on acceptance. Thanks on publication.
4. A friendly unentitled attitude towards the editor.
5. Taking responsibility–it is not the editor’s fault if your work is not a bestseller.
Of course I’m a writer too. I’ve had my work published incorrectly, changed without permission, smudged, and stolen. Do I mind? Less and less. Everything in life has its negative, and as a rule editors have treated me kindly, fairly, and with respect and affection. I’m lucky to have them.
Haiku Rejection by Meg Tuite
Why no haiku?
Most poetry magazines
Won’t accept haiku
Does it leave the editor
Too much empty space to fill?
Photo Meg Tuite