Friday, November 05, 2004

lesson of the day

i feel like i'm trapped in the twilight zone... let me explain. sorry this is a bit long, but i need to vent and i think you can all benefit from what i'm learning, so bear with me a read it all.

most of you know i'm in my first semester of grad school at roosevelt university in chicago. i'm taking a class called 'literary magazine production'. the class of 13 is serving as the editorial board of this year's Oyez Review, to be published this winter. in the past few months we have logged in over 350 submissions, most of which is poetry containing 3-5 poems each. 90% (at least!) has been awful. we have read and commented on them all, met in genre groups and discussed, narrowed it down to about 17 poems, 7 fiction pieces, and 1 nonfiction piece, ranked each genre according to quality so we could take the top pieces for the issue and have a few backups depending on page length in the final manuscript. we have exactly 96 pages to fill, 8 of which are artwork and must fall exactly in the middle of the magazine because we print them on higher quality paper.

so that's the background. now picture this, 14 students and their professor spend an hour and a half discussing the order of the magazine. somehow, without too much argument, they create an order that works both thematically as well as mathmatically, even putting all two page poems on facing pages. no easy task. the very next day the author of the non-fiction piece, the longest piece of the issue at 17 pages, and arguably the strongest piece of prose, notifies us to say the piece was simultaneously submitted and has been accepted elsewhere.

problem solving #1. via email conversations we replace the piece with the next ranked fiction and 3 poems, reordering only slightly to fit the new pieces into our well planned out format. i spend 3 hours of my sunny tuesday afternoon putting the entire thing into layout, print it, my professor makes copies for everyone, and wednesday we all begin proofreading.

thursday (yesterday) we receive an email from the author of our final and strongest poem saying it has been accepted elsewhere, and while he was tempted to not tell us he's gotten in trouble for that in the past, letting his pieces be simultaneously published. who does that? and now what do we do? problem solving #2. after more email, we concede to ending on the previous poem and expanding the contributors notes to fill the blank page.

friday (today) we receive another email, this time from the author of our first, most upbeat, and second strongest poem saying it has been accepted elsewhere. problem solving #3. we are living in the twilight zone.

moral of the story? we are changing our policy to say in big big bold print, WE DO NOT ACCEPT SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSIONS. and for those of you who will ever submit your writing for publication... don't ever do this to a publisher. ever.


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