When I was a young writer hanging out with other young writers, we fretted and groused about editors. Faceless names at the top of mastheads in the journals we picked up at bookstores or ordered from PO Boxes in places like Lincoln, Nebraska and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and Anchorage, Alaska. Who were these people judging us? And no doubt mocking our work before sailing the pages as paper airplanes out of their high-rise, penthouse windows.
I wish I could go back to that group of young writers and tell them that the truth was different from what they imagined. Maybe I’d let them hang out to the high-rise fantasy, but I would definitely want them to know that editors were not the enemy. One day, in fact, the editors would be them.
James Engelhardt is the acquisitions editor at the University of Alaska Press and a former managing editor of Prairie Schooner. His scholarly and creative writing appears in numerous literary journals and anthologies.