The issue of qarrtsiluni that Kate Abbott and I guest-edited is now complete. We’ve concluded the issue with a real cracker of a poem (with a terrific photograph to match). Don’t miss it! I thought I'd try to say something here about the experience of editing.
As experiences go, this was a good one. At first submissions were slow in coming and I was a little concerned. However, it was probably a positive sign that people were thinking about the theme and working on their pieces rather than rushing them in.
We received a few strong pieces early on, but it was only after the first few weeks that things began to take off. It became vital to deal with submissions in as disciplined a way as possible so as they didn’t build up in too large quantities. I was surprised at the amount of high quality material we were sent, particularly on the poetry side (we could have done with more quality prose). I had expected far more bland stuff and we had to reject pieces that weren’t bad to make room for the ones which had something extra about them, that indefinable quality that demanded attention.
In the vast majority of cases, Kate and I were able to agree quickly on pieces we wanted to accept and reject. Some kept us in discussion late into the night. A co-editor is valuable. I would have rejected a few pieces of real worth had Kate not persuaded me otherwise and I think the same is true the other way round.
In a small number of cases, we worked with authors and suggested ways of improving their submissions. Some pieces needed a tweak here or there, others needed more substantial changes, but it was great when writers revised pieces and sent them back in a far stronger form. I guess that if qarrtsiluni continues to grow in readership and in numbers of submissions, this co-operative element might prove more difficult.
Rejecting submissions from friends and Internet colleagues was hard, and we had to do a fair bit of that. However, receiving brilliant submissions from people with whom we’d previously had no contact made up for it. I was so impressed by one poet’s submission (well, OK, Claire Crowther) that I went online to purchase her collection the very next day, and it’s excellent.
So it was great to be part of an online magazine that’s gaining a reputation for eclectic, quality literature and strong visual design. I hope you enjoy the issue and might consider submitting to qarrtsiluni in the future. A new theme with new guest-editors will appear sometime in early November.