Saturday, December 29, 2012

Ice Station Little Rock & News from Heron Tree

29º ~ first bright sun/clear skies since the 25th when LR received a record breaking 10.5" of snow

One of the three privets that will have to be removed.
We watched the storm unfold from the warm safety of my in-laws' house in southeastern Arkansas.  The roads back to Little Rock were fine on the 26th, but within the city was a different matter.  To get to our house, we had to drive around (into oncoming lane) three downed trees and one power line (we watched other cars do this first so no chance of a live wire).  Reports were that 265,000 meters (houses & businesses) were without power in the state of Arkansas and over 100,000 of those were in Little Rock. 

While we are lucky, many are still without power today and may not have it restored until the first.  Again, we contemplate the financial formula that says it's fine to string electric wires in the air rather than pay to bury them once and for all.  Between tornadoes, wind, and ice, it feels like Little Rock is always under siege to its lines. 

In the end, we are safe, warm, and as we are both teachers, off work.  The cleanup will be messy, frustrating, and time-consuming, but we are still counting our blessings!


Even during an ice storm that knocked out both editorial homes for a bit, the process of reading submissions for Heron Tree continues.  We have rounded the halfway point, so please be patient if you haven't heard from us yet.  All three of us are excited about the fact that the first poem will go "live" late on January 6th.  Our plan is to have each new poem posted on Sunday night so it can greet you Monday morning and be enjoyed all week.  Each poem will be presented as a PDF so we can make sure all linebreaks and indents match the poet's intention perfectly.  This will also make our annual print publication go more smoothly.  I've seen the mock-ups of the first poem and can't wait for you all to enjoy!

As Chris, Rebecca, and I have made our way on this journey the last few months we are finding out what each of our strengths are and what in our plans needs adjusting.  While all of us came to the project with a lot of poetry experience, none of us had served on a national lit mag staff (although I think at least two of us worked on our undergrad lit mags, lo these many years ago).  It has been a wonderful collaboration so far.

Speaking for myself, I can say that I am stunned that all of those stories I've heard other editors tell are happening to us.  People submitting after we've closed submissions.  People failing to withdraw poems when accepted elsewhere, so that we've spent time and energy selecting something we can't use.  People clearly not reading our aesthetic statement or browsing our mini-anthology of poems we love and sending us material way outside the zone.  People sending multiple submissions before hearing back on their first.  Seriously, people, READ THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES.

Those are minor annoyances, though.  The reading has been delightful, and here's what I've learned about myself.  I am too easily swayed by a single stunning image in a poem.  Thank goodness I'm not doing this by myself, as I've got two terrific co-editors who are able to point out the weaker areas of some poems, ensuring that what we publish is polished poetry.  And, as I'm reading the work of others, I see some of the same tendencies in their work as in mine: submitting before revision time is over, failing to consider the opening stanza/lines & the closing stanza/lines and asking if those really need to be there.  Often, we have paused on poems that show great promise but still need another round of revision, and yes, we are sad, sad, sad that we don't have time to write notes about that to the poets. 

Expect more news from Heron Tree in the days and weeks to come!


Shawnte said...

My initial reaction was to scoff at people who send in multiple subs, etc.

But I have to admit that I have accidentally committed plenty of horrible submission blunders, myself. Clicking the wrong attachment file, for example... which I only realized, after getting an acceptance letter for a poem that I didn't (knowingly) submit to this particular journal. I could have just ignored it and pretended that nothing went wrong, but I do try to submit poems for specific journals and I didn't like the way that poem would fit into the context of that particular journal.

So I fessed up to my bungled submission and withdrew the accepted poem, even though it wasn't accepted anywhere else.

So now I just cringe and wonder how many other mistakes are never brought to my attention.

Kathleen said...

Sad, broken tree. Joy, Heron Tree! Stay warm.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Shawnte, yes, I'm certain I've made similar blunders in clicking the wrong file or accidentally getting an editor's name wrong. At least being on the receiving end, I can remember that we are all human!

Kathleen, :)

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

So glad no broken trees here in our mountains. Saw your blog recommended by Al Maginnis on facebook and thought I'd drop by.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Welcome, Kathryn! Al is the sweetest!

John Vanderslice said...

Hi Sandy. So glad to hear you have power. I don't know how your fellow Little Rockers are making it through these cold nights.

Interesting to read about your experience as an editor. I would have to agree that working on a journal myself has been quite eye opening--and one of the best things I've done.

Sandy Longhorn said...

John, I have to give props to the city & county for offering warming stations and shelters. For some folks, today will be their 6th day without power. Yikes! A lot of folks went to stay with friends/family and at one point all of the hotels were booked as well.

As to being an editor, yes, one of the best things I've done as a writer. :)