Dispatches | November 28, 2006

Aw shucks. I blushed when I read Evelyn Roger’s Nov. 16 blog, “People of Social or Intellectual Distinction.” Apparently, my “nicely gray” hair puts me in a class of distinction necessary to participate in a salon. In spite of Evelyn’s whining about her having to participate in the salon, she — and the other staff members — did a wonderful job in presenting The Missouri Review to a small gathering of university staff and faculty, students, and guests.

Our editor Speer Morgan, an entrepreneur at heart, talked about the history of the short story and the role of The Missouri Review in keeping literature alive; Kris Somerville, like a good marketing director, entertained the guests with a pop quiz about the magazine, handing out plenty of free merchandise; I talked about the energy and creativity of our interns. And Evelyn talked about our relationships with our authors.

As the newcomer on staff, having been here just over two years, I was struck by her message. She said that authors send us manuscripts seeking publication, but what they get is a relationship. This goes for those individuals we publish and those we may not publish. Many authors receive encouragement, though we reject their manuscripts. Evelyn talked about some authors who had submitted a dozen or more times over many years before finally getting a piece accepted. But they kept submitting because Evelyn and other editors could see the promise in the writing and asked that they keep us in mind for future work. And those who have manuscripts accepted receive Evelyn’s expert editing, working with authors to bring the best possible story or essay to print. Even after publication, our relationship continues through our website with archived material, news of awards and publications of books, with follow-up interviews, and most recently with audio files of readings and conversations.

When the evening was over, I felt privileged to have coworkers of, yes, such distinction — and thankful to be part of this community of editors and staff, students, readers and writers. (And not wanting to give up my sliver of distinction, I just may have to delay that purchase of Grecian Formula.)

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