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Friday, December 28, 2007

16 things I learned from guest-editing "qarrtsiluni" Insecta

Photo credit: Today's photograph at qarrtsiluni is flyy by Emilie Zoey Baker. For more, wing over to qarrtsiluni.

The Good & the Bad


I have always had a terrible weakness for people, their endearing, funny, and un-funny foibles as well as their abilities and their rising-above-self merits, and I still do. I especially liked getting to know Ivy Alvarez and the managing editors, Beth Adams and Dave Bonta, and I relished most of the correspondence with writers and artists.


Never shift to gmail for editing without learning how to use it first, or you will accidentally shoot a bunch of rubbish and notes to somebody and confuse them mightily.


Ask and it shall be given! There’s nothing wrong with nerving oneself to ask somebody you admire for a piece—I asked Paul Stankard for some images, even though I thought he was entirely too famous to bother with us. But he did bother with us. Hooray!


Some people have no self-control when it comes to submissions. After a while, this becomes funny, and a certain name becomes a cherished byword.


It’s lovely to see a piece go through multiple revisions and come back a stronger and more controlled piece.


Now I appreciate magazine editors properly.


Never, no-not-ever sign up to guest edit a magazine during a period that covers both Thanksgiving and Christmas, especially if you have three children and a rotten respiratory bug.


Being fuzzy around the edges, I never ever remembered whether a person had been widely published or not, according to his or her letter. Prior publications made no whit of difference to the work.


Visitors to blog-style online magazines still visit but do not leave comments around Christmas Day.


Come up with an interesting topic and hone the work: a startling number of readers will show up.


Dave Bonta is a gen-u-ine character, wonderfully cantankerous and beauty-loving, and he ought to be in a novel. Maybe he is in a novel. I’ll have to check.


I am excessively dutiful. I do not want to be an editor, because such things would take over the little wisps of time that I gather together to do my writing.


One for Ivy, for luck: Axolotls are useful little beasts, loving and burning and doing handsprings and frolicking.


I am burdened overmuch by a Southern tact handed down from my maternal grandmother, Lila Eugenia Arnold Morris, an upright and shining pillar of her community, a fervent-to-burning Southern Baptist, and a woman who gave birth to nine children and managed to rear them right despite the Depression and many losses.


Rejecting people you know or e-know is not any harder than rejecting people you don’t know. It’s all the same amount of hard, that hard nugget of no.


Never-ever-ever say that your dear mama, your darling wife, your darling husband, your granny, your granpappy, your adorable kitty, your sweet addled puppy, or any other beloved family member really liked your poem just exactly the way it was. Even if your poem is exceedingly attractive and alluring, this becomes a stumbling block and a hindrance to two editors, who then walk around said stumbling block and talk about it until finally they send your poem back to you with what are really quite sincere regrets, along with a certain amount of bemusement.


  1. All good things to know! The chief one is probably the one about not guest editing in the holiday and flu season! I'm glad you're happy with the results and I so, so wish I had produced something I thought would work for this issue, something you would like, too. Don't forget me the next time, please. I do hope you are all well now and that the Marly family had no visitations of Christmas ghosts, past or future.

  2. Hey Marly,

    Glad you are better and that you have internet again.

    All these things are interesting, and I am so very glad you are over your "bug" both in health and editing.

    I'm also glad you are having a rollicking good Holiday time.

  3. Laura,

    Yes, all's well, though the Monster Bug appears to be still with us, as my little N is coming down with something. Unreal to think it started on us in early October...

    No "g" visits. N is glad.


    Snow and winds and internet don't seem to go together all that well. It's on-again, off-again.

    Tonight I am going to curl up by the fire and read a book, just as soon as I deliver one child to a sleepover birthday party.

  4. Marly, believe me, the pleasure was Dave's and mine -- and our readers'! You and Ivy did such a wonderful job, and with a record number of submissions, all handled with grace, respect and care. Thank you so much!

  5. I love your lesson number 16, though I have yet to find a puppy or kitten who particularly likes my poetry. Where do I apply for these?
    I am glad you are better; my daughter alas is down in the feverish valley of flu, and being very pathetic about it whilst her devoted boyfriend fetches sorbets and teas and sympathy.
    She does feverish very beautifully.

  6. Beth,

    I am riddled with aw-shucks-ism! Ivy and I thank you for the compliment. You are very good at compliments.

    Merry 4th day of Christmas!


    Alas, we are not done. My little N has finally got the Monster and is down with the respiratory and g.i. miseries. I was hoping that he would escape, but this thing has the longest incubation and duration... Hope your daughter is doing "well" beautifully soon.

    Perhaps you need to shake your kittens, like Alice in Through the Looking-Glass. Then they might behave more sensibly about your poetry. Or else turn into charming chess pieces (that are no bother) or little disheveled or pepper-pot-hot Queens (who come from a backwards land of poetry.) Any of those alternatives might be an improvement on a cat who simply does not care for poetry one way or another!

  7. My cats seem to adore poetry, although longer fiction pieces leave them very bored and they tend to walk away. Alas!

    They do however like art, particularly the orange tabby or as my english friend calls him, my ginger cat. He walked through paint one time as a kitten and tracked it on the porch, now he thinks he's Rembrandt or something and will NOT stay out of my studio or way when I'm painting. Someday this summer I may take a canvas and some paint outside and let him go to it.

    Hope N. is better soon.

  8. What very refined cats you have! Mine are bunglers. The less said about the manners of the blue Persian, the better...

    What's so tough about "in the pan," I wonder?

  9. Well said, Marly. And what a diplomat you'd make! :-) It was such fun working with you. I think one of the real key advantages of getting to know each other is trusting that the other will back you up if ever things go Pete Tong [rhyming slang, that, for 'wrong']. :-)

    huggy, buggy axolotls,

  10. Also that the other one will laugh helplessly with you when things keep bumpbumpbumping to Mr. Tong! Mr. Salisbury Chenowyth Tong, shall we say. He needs a stately sort of name.

  11. you know what I really hate...homemade poetry at funerals.

    I am goign to go to hell now that I have said it out loud.

  12. Susanna,

    You'll have to do better than that if you want to go to hell!

    Cornball poetry is bad wherever it is found. Probably in hell they recite cornball funeral poetry all day long. I love the satire on funerary poetry in Huckleberry Finn.

  13. "In the pan" for cats or sick children? As far as cats go, I finally got one of those covered pans that they must go into a hole to do their business. This cuts done on some things, but they still track litter the little buggers.

  14. LOvely as ever to read your comments and glad you are well.
    Just calling to say Happy New Year!

  15. b. q.,

    The beauteous Lady Azure (she of the long blue Persian hair that sometimes begins to felt and become dreadlocks--afterward she felts up entirely and becomes a living fedora) finds a pan beneath her. Or, shall we say, not beneath her. She hops out and leaves her solid gifts near the pan. Evidently not even those pricey blue crystals are enough to satisfy her.


    Happy seventh day of Christmas (or am I losing count?) and happy new year. We're having our annual overwhelming grand feast, so I must go dust and polish. Hope 2008 is kind and loving to you!

  16. Happy New Year to you and yours!

    I gave you the LJ quote of the year and if you click on my friends page two of them have followed suite.

    thanks for taking time to include me in your busy world.

  17. hmm, thought i left a post here...but maybe i only dreamt it?...trying again:

    Happy New Year, Marly!!

  18. Susanna,

    That is an honor! Possibly dubious--will have to go and see... Whatever did I say?


    Thanks for breezing by on this beautiful snowy day. Happy New Year.


    The annual New Year's feast menu will be up soon. Excellent work by the chef, as always. Maybe I'll put up a recipe or two this time.


    The new qarrtsiluni topic is "Hidden Messages." We'll be posting Insecta images and writings through the 9th of January.

  19. Marly, I could write 16 things I love about you and Ivy as guest editors and send them one at a time, maybe twice to make sure they do go through and then, of course, revise them three or, let's say four times. . . (until your cat, too, appreciates them) but let me just say thank you, which I truly can't say enough. -Katherine

  20. Hello, Katherine Durham Oldmixon!

    How funny--I'm doing a slog of a job, and that note cheered me right up. One of the cats, however, promptly spit up a hairball. She's been eating the poinsettia and showing not a whit of regret or stomachache.

    I'm so glad that you enjoyed passing through our Q-looney wringer. And that you went through it so often. And so cheerfully. And so well.

    I am honored to have She-of-the-Lovely-Stately-Name visit my little e-abode!


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.