Red Weather Submissions: The Fast-Fail Concept

You’ve just pushed send on your poetry or short prose submission to MSUM’s literary magazine, Red Weather. Congratulations! But what happens to your piece between submission and publication? Let’s take a look behind the scenes.

The first people to see your submission are the members of the once-weekly evening class of English 457: Editing Red Weather. We are the editors, the proofreaders, the refiners, the typesetters, and ultimately the ones who make it possible for your work to be seen by others in its best light.

We have the responsibility of reading through the 200+ submissions received, and selecting the ones that will be corrected, polished and ultimately published. It goes much deeper than just reading though. And this is what I consider to be the exciting part.

I’m a non-traditional student, with a day job at a digital marketing agency, so I’m used to analyzing and revising the writing of others, but this is my first experience editing a literary magazine. Let me tell you, as a first-time Red Weather editor, it has been an exciting experience to read your submissions. The creativity, the honesty, and the talent that comes through in the pieces I’ve read has been astounding. But to tell the truth, I’ve gotten more enjoyment from some of the pieces that didn’t immediately get a solid yes vote. Pieces that contained errors, or spacing glitches, or unnecessary words.

As a writer, I believe in a concept that is popular in the entrepreneurial start-up world, called “fast-fail.” Basically, it means if you fall down, get back up again, and keep getting back up until you fall down less. It means everyone makes mistakes, but the successful ones seek out those mistakes early on, and learn from them. I would much rather have someone point out spelling, grammar or context mistakes in my writing, than risk its having a less than perfect entrance into the world!

This fast-fail concept is what you should think about when you receive your submission back with notes, suggestions and/or questions from the editors. This means that one of us took the time to get inside your piece and examine it not only for its strengths, but more importantly for its weaknesses. It means that someone thought enough of your writing to look past any shortcomings and to argue its merits in front of the rest of the editors. Take those suggestions, learn from them, rework your piece, and resubmit it within the time frame required.

Once you’ve gotten the perfect shine from your polishing efforts, your writing goes into the galleys based on its length, the space available, and the surrounding pieces. It is then printed, bound and just like that, you’re a published author! But don’t stop there, keep writing! Keep falling down, and getting back up. Keep polishing and keep publishing!

What do you think of this peek behind the scenes at Red Weather? Are you more or less inclined to submit something to Red Weather? Do you have what it takes to fail fast?

-Linda A.

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