Spindle State of Mind

It’s kind of hard to believe it’s 2008 already and that Spindle‘s official launch is less than 36 hours away!

I spent a lot of time this weekend preparing the content for Tuesday’s update, sending off the last of a handful of acceptances and rejections, the latter of which have gotten no easier since the first one — though my basic rejection letter has gotten a lot nicer, if more impersonal — especially when it involves people I know personally.  One of the biggest differences between running a reading series vs. a publication is that the latter is less welcoming by definition as there is no open mic. Whatever I accept for publication is not just a reflection on Spindle and myself, it’s also a reflection upon everyone else whose work I accept and I want to ensure that Spindle is viewed as a quality outlet for a variety of work and not someplace that publishes just anybody. It’s something I take very seriously and can make for some awkward moments when rejecting people I know and respect.

Some acceptances and rejections happen immediately upon first reading, and some I come back to several times over a few weeks, or more. Most are purely my call while some poems get passed on to my editors for their opinions — and some, eventually, will come directly from their own solicitation efforts — especially when it comes to certain forms as I am not a big fan of formal poetry. Or rhyming. That said, I bring the spirit of the open mic to my reviewing of submissions, being as open to everything as I reasonably can be, and have already published a few poems that at first glance I wouldn’t have thought I’d liked.

All in all, the “soft launch” has worked out better than I hoped it would as the past six months of tweaking the site — first behind-the-scenes and then, as of September 12, 2007, live with regularly updated content — have paid off not only in it being ready for primetime on January 8th, but in there being more strong content already posted than I imagined I’d have at this point.

I’ve honestly been somewhat surprised (and in some cases flattered) by the initial response, particularly the number of complete strangers who have submitted work to a brand new publication and, in most cases, have sent appropriate work that fits the admittedly vague NYC-centric theme. While there have been a few left-field submissions that clearly came from serial submitters — those who don’t bother to read the publication, simply responding to any open call for submissions they come across — I’ve mostly received very good work, even some of those I’ve rejected for not being quite right.

And it’s not just poetry, either, which I always knew would dominate in the early stages, but the non-fiction section is coming together very nicely, with two columnists now onboard and a third on deck, a complete stranger whom I’ll be meeting with tomorrow night to discuss her interesting pitch. Plus, there’s a couple of queried articles I’m expecting soon, including a review of Junot Diaz’ The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao that I’m really looking forward to. And, of course, the Notable New Yorker interviews will pick up again, probably next month, as soon as I clear some other things from my plate as they take a lot of time and effort to pull together.

Fiction is the toughest section, as I expected it would be, but by the end of the month we’ll have three really good pieces, including one that completely breaks the rules on length I set forth but so absolutely nails the Spindle theme that I couldn’t resist.  If I can get 4-6 more good stories by the end of the year, I’ll be thrilled!

And last but not least, photography has been an interesting challenge as it’s one of those “I know what I like when I see it…” things that’s not anywhere near my forte.  I have someone in mind as a potential photography editor but that’s a little bit down the road, I think.

There’s still a few things I have to do before the launch, including deciding what’s going up when — I’ll be updating every Tuesday in January with approx. 5 “articles” before going to a sorta-monthly schedule in February — and writing my own introductory “Welcome to Spindle” column, the kind of thing which always seems to come down to the last minute with me!

One thing I’ll need to focus on is the new official tagline, which has been changed from “NYC in the first person” to “A State of Mind”, which I think better reflects the subtlety of the NYC connection I’m generally looking for and has been a stumbling block for some people who thought their work wasn’t NYC-centric enough. To me, NYC is a state of mind and it’s one which even non-natives and non-residents can experience and expound upon.

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