Through the articles on the author and editor relationship between both Carver and Lish as well as Saunders and Ward you can see the variety in these relationships. It’s debatable what the job of an editor is: to hack away a piece at the expense of the author’s voice to make it a better work or do as minimal edits as possible as to keep the authors voice and the relationship? Both these ways are shown through the two relationships. In my opinion the Saunders and Ward partnership is an ideal one as their is mutual respect and a common goal of creating a great work in the author’s voice. The Lish and Carver relationship seems dysfunctional at best and there is an obvious lack of communication. It seemed Lish took to much credit for his editing and how that may or may not have effected the notability of Carver’s works. An editor should be praised for their hard work for cleaning up a piece, but the author should get the most recognition for creating the piece that needed editing in the first place. From my own editorial experiences and these articles I highly value the job of an editor. As I myself work as an editor at my school newspaper. Yet I would never try to take the spotlight for an article I edited away from the author. There is a large range of possible editorial relationships. I believe the best one is where the author and editor have a similar definition of what is correct in the work. Meaning there is an understanding of the author’s voice, style, and grammar choices that they made on purpose. The editors job is to make the author shine, so any suggestions they make should be said politely and in a conversational manner, not a command. It’s always good to edit light handed rather than heavy handed, as not to offend the author.
I’ve found that I know if I like a piece or not pretty quickly. A major factor for that is if I get lost in the reading or not. If I find myself flying through a work I give it an immediate yes. If at times I come out of the reading I begin evaluating what caused that reaction. That can stem anywhere from a need for edits, the story drags on, not enough character development, etc. From there I will choose a grade based on how much I feel the story needs to change. For example a story that just needs grammar edits would be a strong maybe, but one that needs developmental editing would be more on the lines of a maybe or probably not. Sometimes I find myself not liking a story because I just don’t like the plot line. I tend to love works that portray a vulnerable and realistic view point of humanity and the world. Yet I don’t like when the story delves into certain dark topics such as domestic violence and explicit sexual things because it makes me personally uncomfortable. I generally can predict what I will like just on the fact that I know myself as a reader, but sometimes I am pleasantly surprised. I’ve found out I can like dark and satirical writing when it is done tastefully. Doing these submission reviews has shown the diversity in the readings I especially like and helped me become even more in tune with the type of reader I am.
Through grading Dogwood submissions I have a better idea of my selection process and what my criteria is for a quality piece of writing. I look for difficult vocabulary, but not so difficult as it brings you out of the reading, just enough to challenge you. I have a background in creative writing so I enjoy lots of description, but nothing too cliche. The plot and characters have to be fleshed out well. If the beginning of a story doesn’t grab me and makes me become invested in the story I am immediately drawn away from the work. A weird quirk of mine is that I don’t generally enjoy disturbing or really upsetting stories, such as characters with deeply depressing pasts, but I can appreciate a piece with these qualities if it is written well. I feel that life can be tough enough so why not read something that makes you smile. With the pieces I was asked to specifically grade I noticed I was pretty lenient. It’s rare for me to outright hate a story, or maybe I just haven’t encountered a story like that yet. I gave a ‘maybe’ to a piece if it was written well, but might have needed some extra development. Whereas a piece received a ‘yes’ if it grabbed me from the start, had engaging characters, etc. This is my grading criteria in a nut shell.
I would say that I have a moderately tough grading criteria when it comes to literature. I tend to be a harsh critique when it comes to grammatical errors, cliques, and uncreative plot lines. I typically look for something I have never heard of or read of in another book. l enjoy a novel that surprises the reader not only in content, but with plot twists as well. I would say the piece of work would also have to be between an easy read and an extremely difficult one. Where it is just hard enough to challenge you, but not in a way that it brings you out of the story. Which brings up the necessity of a book to keep you enraptured in the world it has developed, and its ability to keep you there for a period of time I believe lends towards the quality of it. Character development is also a big factor in creating a high quality book so I believe that the more you fall in love with a character, or can relate to them, the better the piece is. I also love when something mentioned in the beginning of the book turns up again later and ends up meaning something significant. Lastly, I enjoy when a book deals with very real problems that cause the character to not only become vulnerable, but human as well.
This piece holds a ton of information on the history of publishing and what its true job is, to make culture. My favorite aspect of the piece was the focus on publishing as something that is not failing or fragile, but strong and powerful. The line that stood out most to me was “By defining books as against technology, we deny our true selves, we deny the power of the book.” The point I took from this is that books are a magical and unique entity with their ability to foster imagination and be interactive. People assume technology means anything high-tech and digital, but one look at the history of the book culture shows that it is the apotheosis of technology. It is ever changing and adapting to the changes in the industry. It has survived the the transformation of what a writer is, the invention of the printing press, e-books, etc. Book culture is in no way perishing and will be around for a long long time. Publishing needs to be redefined in the minds of people as the thing that cultivates culture for it provides the raw material to answer the question of what is true and good art.
As I leafed through the copies of Dogwood I was particularly drawn to the works poetry, as I am a huge fan of the form. The piece that stuck with me the most was titled Platitudes, by Terry Godbey. The title was the first thing to draw me in because platitude is one of my favorite words oddly enough, I just love the way it sounds. At the same time I hate what the word means, because I was given a bunch of them when my parents almost got divorced and my mom was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor. The content of the poem, that being the story of a woman diagnosed with breast cancer, was easy to relate to for me because I remember hearing similar things and wanting to tell that person f*#ck you because you don’t know sh*#t, alas I didn’t. I admired that she shared the things most people are to “polite” to say back to someone trying to console you on matter that they really don’t know anything about.
The next piece that caught my eye was another piece of poetry, shocker right? While I did read many well written pieces of fiction and non-fiction my heart is always drawn to poetry. The work titled Death of a Heron, by Jack Ridl, drew my attention because once again the title intrigued me along with the format it was written in, tight short columns. This is typically the format in which I write my poetry as well. I truly loved the natural imagery of the poem along with the underlying theme of nature surviving in a modern world. As shown by the majestic heron ending up dead on the side of a man made road, yet its gaze still stuck on the sky. I was intrigued because a lot of the time road kill goes unnoticed by most, but for this author it represented the death of something memorable for him. The poem was to me very powerful and moving.
The aesthetic differences I noticed through the years Dogwood has been published are the changes in dimension, matte vs. gloss finish, placement of the cover title, etc. I personally like the format of the later editions because there is a consistency in the covers. There didn’t seem to be much change in format inside the literary journal, and if there was it wasn’t too noticeable. I did notice that the title on the spine has remained the same through the years.
At this magazine we believe in showing vulnerability in your writing. We encourage you all to strip off the masks you wear and to submit your most personal works, those you haven’t even shown to your loved ones. These submissions are also completely anonymous. We don’t judge on race, gender, sexuality, or any other stiffing stereotypical group you may be a part of. The more raw your piece is the better and if that means a couple of grammatical errors here and there so be it! You may ask yourselves why you should submit to our literary magazine and the answer is simple: we strive to strip the world of ignorance one bared soul at a time. We aspire to create a magazine of high quality literary works that have to do with the vices we all deal with. They can range from physical, mental, personal, emotional, or anything that you feel passionate about disclosing. Through these deeply personal works we hope to build a community where we can bond over our struggles and through anonymity create a network of support. We her at NN&N literary magazine know how useful of a tool writing is to vent about pretty much everything. Our goal is to create more writers and alleviate some of the anxiety ridden thoughts we all are known to have through this publication. We would once again like to thank you for taking the time to look at our magazine and hope to have you submit one or more pieces now or in the future!