Sunday, July 20, 2008

Blood Orange in Port Townsend -- part 2

Blood Orange Review had the opportunity to sit on a panel this week to discuss literary journals. Here are some of Stephanie’s thoughts, continued from yesterday:

In the panel on literary journals in which I participated with several others at the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference this week, Brenda Miller from the Bellingham Review discussed how she educates her staff about responding to submissions. If someone sends in writing that is clearly not ready for publication, she encourages her staff not to consider the individual an unskilled writer. With her staff, Brenda talks about the importance of seeing submitting to literary journals as part of the creative process, not just the final step in the creative process.

I really enjoyed her perspective on this because I’ve felt this myself. Submitting to journals and receiving rejections is how we calibrate our writing. It’s one method for understanding audience and making this abstract concept more tangible. Submitting is a way to see how your work stands on its own beyond the friends and teachers who are invested in our work and who know what we’re trying to do.

A rejection from a literary journal can be an educational tool. It should not be viewed as a declaration that a work is unforgivably flawed, but that it’s not ready yet for publication in that journal and may never be due to the aesthetic preferences of the editors who make the decisions. Samuel Ligon, editor of Willow Springs, says he loves it when a piece that is almost accepted but ultimately rejected by his journal is accepted into the Georgia Review or some other reputable journal. It’s encouraging that writers have options in the literary world and can find a publication that is suited to their unique creation.

1 comment:

Stephen Corey said...

I'd like to second Samuel Ligon's comment about the varied options open to writers, and I do so not simply because he mentions the journal with which I work--though that's how I came across his remark--but because he is right. Individual editorial tastes, general editorial plans and visions, the time of year and the weather--these and many more factors can come into play during the evaluation process. If "Acceptance" could be personified and allowed to speak to fine pieces of writing, it might quote the end of "Song of Myself": "Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,/Missing me one place search another,/I stop somewhere waiting for you."

Stephen Corey, Editor