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Rejecting a Piece Others Have Accepted and Vice Versa

What if you disagree with what previous editors have written in the internal notes?

You read their elaborate explanations of why a piece should be accepted or rejected, and you find yourself completely at odds with them—I certainly have. What should you do if you read a piece and wonder, How could this possibly be accepted?

There is no shortcut to getting around this difficult situation. However, there are some things you can do.

Before reading other editors’ commentaries—or even reading the piece—you have to account for your own standards for accepting or rejecting a submission. Is unbalanced rhythm a huge negative factor for you even if it’s thrillingly told? Are you likely to accept a poem if it has beautiful diction even if the development is weak? Or are you partial to philosophical, personal essays even if the writing quality could be stronger?

Ascertain how much you should trust your biases by finding out where they lie. You can do this by answering questions similar to the ones above. When you find a piece that has too many deal breakers, even if the other editors love it, ask yourself if the deal breakers really bar a piece from publication. Can they be worked out during revision? If the other editors reject the piece but you love it, it’s important to articulate—both to yourself and in the internal notes—why you disagree.

Maybe you think all those lowercase words are a smart stylistic choice rather than poor grammar, or perhaps you have a different interpretation of that cut-short ending. The situation is undoubtedly difficult when other editors have eloquent, well-supported reasons for their own choices, but accurately identifying your own reasons will allow you to have confidence in your final decision.

Factoring in other editors’ commentary is still important. I don’t always see the strengths in a piece until another editor points it out in their commentary, and a new outlook allows you to give more educated feedback. Whether it be a greater theme or unique symbolism, a major component can fly under the radar. If you miss a significant element, how can you accurately accept or reject the piece?

Solely relying on others’ thoughts can lead to disaster, but their insights are beneficial—especially when considering the negative qualities of a piece you enjoy and the positive qualities of one you don’t. The viewpoints of other editors shouldn’t define your rationale, but they can still aid you. You may be pleasantly surprised to see how sophisticated a piece you originally disliked is.

Choosing between trusting your gut and deferring to the wisdom of other Polyphony editors is tricky. If you’re still stuck, never hesitate to ask Billy if he can forward your concerns to another editor. I’ve sent messages to other editors in the GroupMe after getting stuck on previous editors’ commentaries, and that’s an option for you as well. Maybe you’ll get a friendly response from me to help you figure out where you stand.

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