by Channer Podlesak
It’s my sophomore year of college, and I’m sitting in my room trying to figure out what classes to take during the upcoming semesters. I’ve just officially switched from a biology major to English, a decision that was equal parts exhilarating, and intimidating. As I’m scrolling through the long list of courses, one in particular catches my eye: “Editing and Publishing a Literary Journal.”
Like most literary fanatics, working in publishing would be the ultimate dream, so naturally I sign up as soon as I can. Fast forward two years to my senior year, and I’m finally in the class. Except I have barely any editing experience, and haven’t even published (or written) anything outside of course work. Needless to say, I felt very ill-equipped, but still so excited.
Luckily for me, this class teaches you everything you need, as you need it. We’ve learned about the history of publishing and the technical aspects of the publishing industry, but that’s not even the best part. My favorite thing is reading through all of the submissions that are sent in by undergrads.
I was worried at first that I wouldn’t be able to know the difference between good and bad submissions. I enjoy reading literary journals, especially the short stories, but it’s different reading a literary journal and reading to select pieces for one. What if I choose a piece that doesn’t hold its value long-term, or what if I overlook a potential hit? So far, I’m confident in my decisions. It’s made even easier when exceptional pieces are submitted.
There are also many rough pieces to read through in order to get to the exceptional ones. We were told that the more submissions we read, the better we’ll be able to judge what makes them worthy of being accepted or not. I find this to be true, but it’s still easy to second guess myself. I usually default to my standards for finding anything good: if I find myself thinking about it more than once after I finished, then there’s probably something there.
I’ve been waiting for a few semesters to take this class, and it’s living up to my expectations so far. I know all of the indecisiveness and late nights will be worth it once we all get to hold our very own published literary journal.