I recently started reading for another literary journal. I found a journal I respected, contacted the editor, and was welcomed in to the fold as a level two reader. Now, I’ve only been at this for a month now, but I’ve already seen a piece that I saw while at Willow Springs.
I said no to the piece while at Willow Spring (and it was, obviously, ultimately rejected), and when it popped up in my reading box again, I did add a note saying that I probably wasn’t the best reader since I’d seen it, and rejected it, before. However, what struck me about the piece was that, in the two-ish years since I’d seen it the first time, it was the same. If revisions had been done, they’d been superficial line-level edits.
On the one hand, this bothered me—though of course the writer had absolutely no way of knowing that the same person would look at it at two different journals, so this is perhaps a bit unfair. On the other hand, I have to sort of admire the writer’s faith in the piece, the determination to get it published as is, the belief this writer has in the piece.
That’s not me. I’m the writer who starts revisions after three-ish rejections, which is probably a bit silly, because every successful writer has experienced rejection. But me, I’m still not confident enough in my writing (mainly, my plotting) to keep pushing the same stories. Maybe it’s the time, the distance from the story that helps me, because when I look at it months later, I do see problems.
Maybe this is the mark of me as a novice reviser (I’m getting better!), but my semi-professional opinion as an editor was that this writer’s submission needed to be revised. I apparently need to spend less time worrying about revisions, and this writer needs to spend a bit more. And I know there’s no magic number, but you tell me: How do you know when it’s time to pull a piece from submissions and take it back to the revision stage?