Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Whole Story

There is a book on my shelf, The Whole Story: Editors on Fiction, edited by Warren Slesinger. This book has become a tangible reminder of how far I have come on my journey as a fiction writer, and now as an editor.

The featured editors explain how they choose the stories they publish. They describe their editorial procedures and policies, but not in the often generic terms presented in the guidelines of their respective literary magazines. This is a collection of anecdotal and intimate essays written specifically for this book, and although the book is 10 years old, the magazines represented in this book are still of value to writers who are submitting today--still prominent sources for the publication of a refined cross-section of contemporary American Fiction, i.e., The Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, The North American Review etc.

I remember pouring over the essays in this book, taking in all the tips and editorial insights of the submission process. I was grateful then, for the willingness of these editors to offer guidance to emerging writers, and now as I step into the role of a literary fiction editor, I welcome the opportunity to share my perspectives with writers who are eager to begin their journeys. The book will remain front and center on my desk, not only to remind me of where I’ve been, but to prompt me to continue to turn around and lend a hand to writers in back of me.

Yes, writers are a solitary lot, but we are never truly alone; there are many wordly paths, and there are always other writers just ahead and behind on the trailheads. There are snakes on these paths too, but I’ll save that for another post.

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