Submissions to the journal cover my desk.
Submissions to the journal cover my desk.

The Other Side of Rejection

The Compass, as you may recall from an earlier post, is currently in the midst of an exciting reboot. The university’s scholarly journal will give student work a place where it may be seen and used as a resource. I’m convinced it’ll be a hit—as soon as it comes out. The publishing date has been pushed back a few times to give editors a chance to do some fine tuning. Working for The Compass presents a few challenges (fine tuning being one of them), but the number one difficulty with being an editor for The Compass for me? Critiquing honestly.

I wish we could showcase every paper we receive simply because someone crafted it and is proud of it. My first inclination is always to comment “I like your intro!” or “Interesting topic!” When I hit a rough patch of wording, I respond, “Perhaps this could read (insert alternative wording here).” Even when authors send pieces back with less-than-stellar updates, I have difficulty letting something so silly and minuscule act as a deal breaker. There are also some pieces that are really well written but that just aren’t right for The Compass. Essays without research? Probably not right for this publication. Poetry? Also not right. Song lyrics? Definitely not right. What do I want to do with them? Put them all in, obviously.

This feels right. Right? It feels compassionate, understanding, and nonjudgmental. It lets me act the part of a philanthropic goddess. I’m enforcing the First Amendment! What’s wrong with this thinking, though, is exactly that: It makes me feel good. No one wins if The Compass lowers its standards or undermines its purpose by publishing work that should go elsewhere, like Pulp literary magazine, The Tower newspaper, or Loco Mag. Making the best publication possible—a unified, well-executed body of work—is the only way the articles submitted can receive their due praise (or just be taken seriously).

In the same way that ensuring the quality of writing has purpose, all of the fine tuning in progress has a purpose: It gives the thought-provoking work received a chance to be recognized. Grammatical and citation changes may seem insignificant, but cultivating a platform with an excellent reputation requires it. Doing the writing justice takes priority over sticking to a timeline. That said, the current timeline looks like The Compass should be ready to go by the end of February (don’t hold me to that). Then we’ll host a launch party, which we probably should start planning…