Q&A - Have there been any awkward moments in your Polyphony career?
By Pauline Paranikas, Yong-Yu Huang, Nithya Ramcharan, Brooke Nind, and Neeraja Kumar
I don’t know if this necessarily counts as an awkward moment, but every time I look at my commentary from my first year at Polyphony, I physically cringe. Not to exaggerate, but it was awful. 90% of my commentary was about grammar, and 0% of it was phrased respectfully. I admire the self-restraint most of the editors who gave me feedback showed—they could have justifiably told me to get lost and stop editing. Every time I return to it and read it, I’m tempted to invent a time machine that will allow me to go back in time and fix my commentary. While that’s unfortunately possible, I at least know that I’m a better writer now than I was then.
I once addressed feedback to the wrong person. The original First Reader had passed on the piece, so it had been forwarded to another First Reader who wrote the commentary I was editing. I didn’t notice that there were two names. I was so focused on just submitting my commentary and feedback that I didn’t notice that I had addressed it to the wrong person. I frantically emailed billy and prayed that the feedback ended up with the right person. And after that, I realized that my email had a blaring typo smack-dab in the middle. Needless to say, that was not the proudest moment of my Polyphony career.
This was during the throes of junior year, if it helps any. Once, in the Submission Manager, I switched the internal notes’ comments and the commentary. I pasted the rationale for reject (in this case) in the section that the submitter would be able to see, which is not really a good thing, especially since I suggested rejecting this particular piece. And I did not realize it until that night as I lay on my bed. A few agonizing hours later, I fell asleep, convinced that the unfortunate writer would hate me forever. I emailed the magazine the next day, and billy replied, reassuring me that it would be corrected. Luckily, a very cringeworthy experience was averted, and I could revel in the awkwardness of the moment in peace.
I also once switched the internal notes’ comments and the commentary without realizing. It was one of the first submissions I acted on and unlike Nithya, I didn’t end up recognizing my mistake until a month later when a Second Reader mentioned it in their feedback. I was so embarrassed. I’ve now learned to double check everything before submitting my commentary since I used to make a lot of silly mistakes early in my Polyphony career. Bonus awkward moment: in my first month at Polyphony, I got two nearly identical submissions in a row to act on. Since they had a few distinct differences, I proceeded to write commentary for both, but it was still a weird situation.
When I was working on my first assignment, I tried to cut and paste my commentary into the message field of the submission manager without creating an action first. Convinced that infallible me was going to lose all my day’s work (I’d kept procrastinating polishing it till the last day my commentary was due) and worried about the functionality of the submission manager, I wrote a long, rambling email to billy explaining my dilemma. Just when I was about to hit send, I had the good mind to ask my sister to take a look at the website, and thankfully, she noticed my error. If I’d gone through with pushing the send button on that email, though...
Neeraja Kumar is a First Reader at Polyphony Lit and and a blogger at Voices.
Pauline Paranikas is an Executive Editor at Polyphony Lit and the Editor-in-Chief of Voices.
Yong-Yu Huang is a First Reader at Polyphony Lit and a blogger at Voices.
Nithya Ramcharan is a Second Reader at Polyphony Lit and and a blogger at Voices.
Brooke Nind is a Second Reader at Polyphony Lit and and a blogger at Voices.