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And to First and Second Readers...what do you wish higher-level editors knew?
In About Editing
Giancarlo Riccobon
Feb 12, 2019
As someone who's been a Second Reader, but read my brother's commentary over his shoulder when he was a Genre Editor, I've sort of been on both sides, and I can connect with the First/Second Readers and the upper level editors. I guess one thing I wish upper-level editors would know is that sometimes it helps if editors from different levels bring different interpretations to the table. Every editor interprets and responds to a piece in their own unique way. So there will be times when a Genre Editor reads a piece one way, and then discovers that the Second Reader interpreted the piece in a completely different way. If the Genre Editor has trouble examining the piece through the same lens that the Second Reader viewed it, or may not totally understand the Second Reader's interpretation, then it may be hard for them to give feedback to the Second Reader. And when the Second Reader receives that feedback, they may feel like their interpretation was misunderstood. I think it's important for editors all levels to remember that an interpretation is an interpretation, and any interpretation can be helpful to the author so long as the critique is constructive. If a poem gives rise to two different or even conflicting interpretations, then it's important for the editors to share them, so the author can have a better idea of how readers may respond to their poem. Also, one thing I wished for as a Second Reader was to maybe have the chance to engage in a dialogue with the upper-level editors who gave me feedback. Sometimes I wanted to ask more questions, or see if they had more suggestions for me, or try my hand at a revised commentary. Almost like an in-house between editors, in a way. But I know that it wouldn't be possible in all cases to have that dialogue, for the same reason that authors who submit usually only engage in a dialogue with editors when they're doing an in-house.
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Giancarlo Riccobon
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