Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Adventures in Rejection: Cate As Editor

I have to admit something to you.

When sending out rejection letters, I'm a bit heartless. This might make me a hypocrite, seeing as how I regularly complain about receiving rejection letters. But hear me out, because this is important, at least as far as I'm concerned: as an editor, I MUST close myself off to the acute memories of having been rejected in order to reject the work of others.

It's a survival instinct. If I accept every piece, regardless of literary merit, I won't be able to publish the magazine. Even if I only accept works from people whose words have appeared in our pages before (again, without considering the printworthiness of their offerings), the end product will exceed our capabilities. As a result, I have to be merciless.

Some people who have been on the wrong end of my red pen will tell you that I have no soul anyway, and that I take endless pleasure in making pages bleed. But my selection work as the editor of a literary magazine differs in an important way from my revision/correction editorial work: as a reviser, I'm helping to shape an individual piece, whereas I have to create a collection when selecting from a huge pile of submissions.

Not every writer is in my position, having to live a double life. But some of us are, and as a group, we tend to feel the same way non-editors do when we get those form letters in the mail. That's how I can say with certainty that we don't hate you. I promise.


PS This has nothing to do with the topic at hand, but here's a link to an interview with a guy I know, and I think you should all know about him, too, because he's the cat's pajamas.

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