Request: What are your pet peeves as an editor?

This might sound crazy, but I don't have any.

Really, I am a writer myself and have probably made every mistake possible in my life as a poet.

I once submitted to the Paris Review in my twenties telling them that I was fulfilling my dream of being a writer and they were lucky enough to be receiving my second submission ever because I wanted to start with the best.

Gee, thanks young poet for sending us your cr*p.  

They did not say this, but looking back, I'm sure this is what they thought.

I am a pretty laid back person.  And more of a live-and-let-live girl.  As an editor, I tend to operate the same way.

While I like people to use semi-colons correctly, I will not reject a poem or story because the writer got it completely wrong.   We will accept the poem/story and write to the writer to let him/her know we have some punctuation issues we need to fix, but would still like to publish his/her work.

I do not get upset when people forget SASEs or submit when they shouldn't.  I do not get upset with weird cover letters or people calling me Emily (an editor of the journal from about seven years ago).

I do not get upset when someone contacts us every 2 weeks and asks if we've made a decision yet.  And I do not blackball them for being annoying.

Really, I just like to get good work and can overlook your mistakes if you overlook mine. Try your best and I'll try my best.

I understand what it's like to be a writer submitting to a journal and maybe that's why I will not list your sins to you.  Your sins are my sins.  Sometimes there are errors in my own poems I send off to journals.  Sometimes I misspell "accidentally."  I add an extra "i."  You might misspell "cemetery."  We do our best and learn from our mistakes.

I will not hold your mistakes against you.  And I would never keep peeves as pets.



  1. Good post!

    The editor-writer relationship is so important. This post tells me you must be an excellent editor. (I already know you're an excellent writer.)

  2. great attitude and one that honors the approach ccr had from the start when Linda Clifton was editing. kjm

  3. I love this, so nice to know that there are wonderful people like you out there. Thank you for sending out hope.

  4. It's so funny that you told them it was your SECOND submission and that you wanted (and apparently did) start with the best! So tell us who you submitted to first :) Nancy P.

  5. Oh, do spill the name of the magazine you edit. I like your easy-going attitude, and I'm pretty sure I won't annoy you on the issue of semi-colons, though I can't promise much else.

  6. I really appreciate your point of view. As a student of literature many years ago, I remember having essays thrown back at me by a tutor in front of the whole undergraduate class because my grammar was horrible (English was neither my first nor second language). I survived that period of my life and went on to teach English for a good many years. I am not a poet but i do write... and i avoid punctuation.....

  7. Thank you all for your comments!

    Tricia-- I edit Crab Creek Review, a print literary journal out of Seattle.

    Nancy, the first place I submitted to was the UW's lit journal, Bricolage. Linda Bierds suggested I submit a poem to them and it was accepted. I thought, "Huh, this submitting poems thang is easy!" I had no idea!

  8. I let a lot just slide by cause we've all made mistakes but when people obviously haven't even looked at the guidelines that does just make me tired. My journal has a whole "referred" theme so when you just paste 6 poems in an email without "referring" well it's pretty obvious you only took the time to copy and paste my email address without reading any guidelines. Even that will just get you a reject and a reminder to refer next time. My peeve is when you politely reject and then get angry emails back!!


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