Dispatches | March 29, 2011

Our spring issue is imminent. Last week the digital proof came from our printer.  We have twenty-four hours to go through and send it back—which meant, for me, hunkering down in my office with the pages and going over the errors that still linger—things that get missed maybe because they’re so obvious you forget to look for them (right title, wrong poem); or because everyone, from author to proofreader, let down their guard at the same spot in the text (Cheese Whiz?  No, Cheez Whiz). I have been called “eagle-eyed” by our poetry editor, but it’s only partly true; and the above mentioned errors are fictitious, fyi.

For me, the final go-through is not fun.  I am not a “detail person,” but here I am, checking whether page numbers are right and sequential. Does anyone want to do this? It is, honestly, boring.

I check pages, footers, openings, endings and similar things emitting an aura of discontent over labor that demands an extreme of attention I don’t want to give because my boredom threshold is pretty low. Handing it off to someone else is not an option, however.

The one tradeoff—and it’s not a terrible one—is the experience of being at something much like a dress rehearsal of the latest issue.  Subscribers aren’t going to ever see this almost version of TMR. It gives me an extra opportunity to think about how the long process of building the issue has paid off.

This time I found myself pleased and admiring at the way all the very distinct talents coalesced in our spring issue, which is titled “Peril.”  Meditative nature writing by John Hales, painfully truthful “love” poems by Josh Booton, comic memoir by Patricia Bjorklund, a somewhat sassy interview with Jo Ann Beard, whose novel In Zanesville will be out next month, a “historical” fiction about the O.J. Simpson trial and the soap opera The Young and the Restless by Erin Flanagan: they all get between the covers together in our spring Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize issue, with some other very good pieces, and seem to get along.

Evelyn Somers is the assistant editor of The Missouri Review.