I’ve been back from Mexico for about a week now and I’ve thrown myself into editing and revising a story I’ve been working on for about a month. I’ve gotten feedback from three of my regular readers, and each one has made different suggestions and comments from which to pick and choose. The usual torture.
I continue to grapple with the material and the piece has gone from 1200 words and ballooned up to 2100 words, and now I’ve culled it back down to under 1600 words but I am unhappy with the ending. (I’m usually unhappy with my endings.) And so the toil continues.
But speaking of editing, endings and the like… I’ve also recently started volunteering as a slush pile reader for one of the journals that previously published one of my stories. It’s been fascinating to read other people’s submissions and to be in the position of deciding whether or not the material is worthy of publication. I’ve already read more than 30 stories as a slushpile reader over the last several days, and unfortunately from what I’ve read, the majority of the submissions were a “No” for me.
It is a GREAT experience for me because I see rookie-writer mistakes, crazy stories with no plot, or stories with nonsensical plots and characters, but I also see nuanced well written pieces that for whatever reason do not come together. As a writer, seeing all of this material gives me a much deeper understanding of what editors (and slush pile readers!) have to go through in order to get to the stories that are ready for publication. It also makes me think that it’s basically a miracle that any of my stories have been published.
Have you ever volunteered as a slushpile reader for a small press journal? Have you ever edited a journal? I’d love to hear some war stories from people who are on the “other side” of the submissions process and their perspective.