Friends, on occasion, have inquired, what is it you do exactly? Family members have wondered the same thing finding the titles Editor in Chief and Editorial Board Chair to be rather vague. They have seen "The Devil Wears Prada" but know I don't own any fur coats to plop down on a desk while waltzing through the office. I also never waltz. And for the most part I work at home. I will confess to tossing my sweater-used-as-a-bathrobe on the kitchen table if I have a hot flash but I am the one who has to pick it up so really, not the same as the film. And I could demand that someone go fetch me coffee as long and as loud as I want, but until Michael returns home from work my voice will simply bounce from wall to wall hitting no one.
The other day, however, was a bit out of the ordinary. The other day was, as some are prone to claim about everything from a satisfying grilled cheese to six pairs of underpants for the price of three, AWESOME!
Submissions come in. Hundreds, thousands. Most submissions arrive through electronic means. A small percentage arrives through the mail. Last summer I was handed a submission in person. Not by the author, but by a friend of his. When she handed me the manila envelope I asked her not to tell me anything about him. We do "blind" readings. I then gave it to our Production Coordinator to put into the system.
And time goes by.
When determining what will make the final cut for each issue of Memoir (and) there are many factors that come into play. Is it good? Is it fresh? Have we published something similar recently? And if there are two pieces being considered which have common themes, which one should we take? This happened last week. Two pieces with a subject in common…the Holocaust. One was written from a present day perspective. One from the perspective of a young boy whose life would be forever shaped by the events that took place during those days of darkness. What to do.
Memoir (and)’s Editorial Board members are scattered. East Coast and West Coast. We are connected by those invisible lines of communication called the Internet. We also use the old stand by, telephone. We spent the day discussing the merits of each piece. Forth and back, back and forth. At some point someone suggested we take both. Both! And place them together to give emphasis to the past and present represented by each author.
We were all happy. We were all thrilled. And later that day I had the pleasure of placing a phone call to a gentleman in his eighties whose friend had given me his manuscript to read many months ago, to inform him that his story, his first-hand account of his experience during the war as a young Jewish boy trying to escape Europe would, after all these years, be published. And he has lived to see it.
In a word. AWESOME.