On Editing (#3)

I’ve had the privilege of working on various literary journals over the last 15 years, and none has demanded as much work and time commitment as has my editorship with Windhover: A Journal of Christian Literature. None has brought me such satisfaction.

This afternoon I finalized the selections for the fourth issue I’ve edited, an issue that will be larger (again) than the previous year’s issue. Each issue I’ve edited has grown in size, from 18 contributors in the 2013 issue, to 50+ contributors in the forthcoming issue. This forthcoming issue also marks the 20th volume, the first issue having appeared in 1997. It’s amazing to me that a journal with such a distinct focus is still continuing two decades later, and I count it an honor to edit such a publication.

My history with the journal dates back to my poetry submission in 2005. The following fall, I received my official rejection letter. When I assumed the editorship in the summer of 2012, I discovered the electronic version of my rejection letter and printed it. (I’ve told this story before in various places, but I still find it ironic and amusing.)

Now that the acceptances are complete, I will commence in one of my favorite tasks: organizing the issue. Editors organize their issues with various rationales, but I have taken my cue from Brian Bedard, the former editor of South Dakota Review where I served as managing editor during my doctoral studies. Brian arranged the issue so as to create an arc, with links between pieces (maybe an image from a poem echoing in a short story that followed). When I proofread the pieces after he informed me of the table of contents, I was always amazed by the connections he made.

In my role as editor, I employ that same guiding principle. I reserve several hours and then spread out the accepted pieces on the large tables in my department’s breakroom. I pace, I shuffle paper, and I look for those links. And just as there’s an exhausted satisfaction when I’ve completed the selections (and when I’ve created a proof and when I see the physical issue), there’s a satisfaction and pleasure when I’ve solidified the order.

But for now, it’s time to relax and to enjoy that extra hour.

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