What It’s Really Like to Be An Editor

Before I was involved in a literary magazine I thought that being an editor would be so boring; all you do is sit in a room and look at work. I wondered why we looked at art and honestly I thought a literary magazine only had literary work. I thought no one would submit and we wouldn’t be really working on anything.  But now as an editor of Levitate Magazine I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s far more than that.

In Levitate Magazine there are three genres  that we look into accepting and not accepting: Visual Art, Prose and Poetry. As a writer I have been rejected by numerous magazines. The first time you get a rejection letter it’s always the worst feeling. For a new writer the insecurities of your writing just pile on more.  But when you finally get that acceptance letter, it’s like the weight of all insecurity was lifted off your shoulders, just for a little bit.

As an editor of Levitate I take that feeling into consideration. I  try to review and understand the perspective of the artist, but still give a valid review for the piece. Now yes, as an editor I have received pieces that I really enjoyed at one point then a week later I didn’t like as much. As a reader I had gained the habit of  just reading the book once and then saying “Alright that was good;” that’s why as an editor I had to understand the importance of going over what you review more than once.

When opening a new piece we have to have a clear mind and not compare it to another piece we really liked. We also have to make sure that later in the process of gathering more art  that the artist doesn’t withdraw a piece that we may have really liked. We have to be sure that a piece is really what we want to have in our journal. Sometimes, we have to fight for a piece to be accepted if we really liked it. But with that comes a lot of patience and fair argument. I have lost arguments before about pieces that I felt really deserved to be in our magazine. But I’ll give some advice when it comes to those situations. Print that piece and put it somewhere where you can always see it; and frankly later you’ll find a piece that you’ll love just as much. I also have to put into consideration the entire process of what the reader may want to see later. A previous editor once told me, “The ending is always more stressful than the beginning. But when it’s over, it’s always the most satisfying.” And a teacher once told me that “In order to be a great writer , you have to be a good reader.” With that advice I continued to become a good reader.

A good reader is everything but a reader. Now what I mean by that is when someone is reading, they become a critic, an interpreter, and an editor. As I practiced editing and giving reviews on Levitate, I noticed that I had been doing things that a good reader would do, without even noticing for years. Whether it’s leaving tiny mental notes, gathering up evidence to guess the ending, or filling the entire book with scrap notes.

In conclusion, being an editor can be more than just looking at art or writing. Waiting for the time to go by.  It can be an opportunity to look into art and later understand the point of view that an editor or publisher goes through when looking into pieces that others have submitted to them. It also is an amazing process to learning how to manage your time and outside life besides editing.

Trinity Simmons-Brooks, Visual Art and Poetry Editor

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