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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

More About Rejection: Editors

"Editors are our friends," William Stafford said.

What did he mean by that?

Editors keep us from having work out there that sucks.

We should thank them, he said.

I couldn't agree with him more.

In fact, I'll up him one or two.

Editors tend to contact us on weekends. Do you know what this means? Editors work day jobs, and don't put on their editor hats till they've already put in a full work week. What editors do is a labor of love, dudes, not a paying gig.

Editors care. They care about words, about invention, risk, about a poem staying true to its intentions, about logic, about each and every fucking line break. If you can't justify all your line breaks, don't expect the editor where you sent the poem to send you anything close to flowers.

Editors take a look at our poems and liken them to little engines that could. They write and say, I've made a few changes; if you're amenable to them, may we publish your poem in this version? (Our answer was--and will probably always be--thanks so much, yes, of course you may).

Editors often let us revise our work and resubmit it.

Editors have told us they would like to consider others, which we have to say we never did not mind, because they were preventing us from having work out there that sucks.

Editors have had to read our bad poems--ones we had no business sending them--and find a way to tell us (politely) "while I enjoyed moments in each of these, I could not quite find one I like enough to keep."

Editors get excited about our best work; they love when a poem jumps up from the slush pile and starts doing the tango with them. To get accepted, a poem has to be that good--it's gotta be doing a wild, wild hula dance (with a light-up hula-hoop) Shake that hula poem, baby!

Editors are our friends.


Kells said...

Love this! I didn't know a lot about editors until becoming one. The one thing I didn't much freakin' work they do!

I'm going to share this on my blog too! You're awesome. And I'm your friend. ;-)

Martha Silano said...

Hey, friend! Thanks for sharing my post on your blog, you freaking-awesome editor!!

Kathleen said...

Enjoyed this, which shows the generosity and patience going both ways! Recently, Bruce Guernsey, editor of Spoon River Poetry Review, helped me work on a poem--such a sweet, careful, valuable, generous thing to do.

Martha Silano said...

Cheers to editor Guernsey, and congrats to you for getting a chance to work with him!

It was Daniel Bourne at Artful Dodge who took one of my poems and made it much better. What floored me was how he wrote with such care, with the expectation that I would bite his head off for his weaving my loose ends into gold.

Salmon Bear said...

You go, girl. This is well said. Thanks!

Martha Silano said...

Thanks, Salmon Bear!