Student-Faculty Collaborative Research Grant Report
Creative Writing | Publishing
Across the summer and fall of 2017, senior creative writing major Tor Strand and I edited the nonfiction selections at High Desert Journal, where for the last four years I have worked as nonfiction editor. Tor served as my assistant editor and was given a byline on the masthead of the magazine for the most recent issue, HDJ 25. Tor also continued to develop and coordinate a recent series at High Desert Journal, What is West?, in which noted HDJ authors take on that very question. Editor Charles Finn was incredibly impressed with Tor’s contributions, especially his keen editorial eye on the essays published in the latest issue.
Tor and I began our work by looking at past issues of HDJ, as well as initial and final drafts of recently accepted essays. We also spent some time setting goals concerning the number of pieces, style of work, and diversity of included voices. Throughout the summer both Tor and I read and took notes independently in the online submission system; in the afternoons, then—roughly two or three days a week—we'd get together to talk through what we'd read. We declined pieces that were easy calls at each meeting—though, too, we often tried to give these authors a note or two about what their piece was doing well—and compared and contrasted the pieces still under consideration, slowly winnowing the pool. As we identified accepted pieces, we notified the authors and begin working with them on the editorial process. Tor gave each piece a first read, correcting errors, of course, but also offering substantial editorial guidance, offering ideas for how each author could deepen the impact of their respective essay. I also offered ideas, though many times Tor’s initial thoughts were right in line with my own. We then forwarded these corrections and ideas to the authors and went back-and-forth with them as many times as it took to get the essay just right. In the end, we published four striking essays by four amazing authors: Margot Kahn, Lisa Laughlin, Anna Maria Spagna, and Russell Rowland. And we’re proud to say that Lisa Laughlin’s essay was one of HDJ’s four Pushcart Prize nominations for the entire year.
Wilkins, Joe, "Student-Faculty Collaborative Research Grant Report" (2018). Post-Grant Reports. Report. Submission 134.