Manage This

By: Ari McGuirk on Friday, August 2nd, 2019

Ari McGuirk, Managing Editor

I’m entering my final year of UNM’s MFA program as Blue Mesa Review’s Managing Editor. My editorial responsibilities probably aren’t interesting to someone curious about what to submit to our magazine. Not that I wouldn’t be happy to walk you through my process for complex decisions like “bold or italics?” in meeting minutes. But I think, as a submitter, you’ll likely encounter me as a reader. If I like your submission, I can drop your manuscript in the Genre Editor’s inbox for immediate consideration. And since I write prose, that’s usually what I read from our contest submissions and from the slush pile in the spring (sorry poets).

Like other editors have written, we’re looking for Southwestern voices – what we mean is that we do not want underrepresented writers from this part of the country to feel discouraged from submitting to us. We are Blue Mesa Review, and if you’ve read our EIC Tori’s blog, you’ll know we aim not only to be an Albuquerque-based magazine, but to represent New Mexico nationally and internationally. But if you’re not from here, don’t sweat it – we want to read your work and hear your voice, too. I’m a transplant who has called more than a dozen places home in my not-yet-thirty-years, and I’ve learned that if you show this land the respect it deserves, it will teach you a new beauty.

If you haven’t read Michelle’s thoughts about voice or Mario’s hunger for singularity, for the unique story that only you can tell, you should. And not just because I agree with them. By allowing us to read the individual encounter that you have with reality, either through short story, memoir, flash, or personal essay, you’re generously allowing me to learn more about the world.

I’m not the most complicated reader: I like pieces with high stakes. I like urgency, specificity, sharp dialogue, and lyric conciseness. I like figuring out why the narrator is telling me their story. And if for some reason the piece is not doing what I usually like, I like figuring out why I don’t understand it, and how it’s successful beyond my traditional sensibilities. Show me structure that veers away from the plot pyramid. If you’re using the plot pyramid, great—but make sure to populate it with rich descriptions and interesting characters with intriguing conflicts. Above all, be fearlessly loyal to your vision. Even if we can’t publish your piece this issue, we still admire a genuine voice with a compelling story, and there’s always the next issue.

I’m humbled to be the Managing Editor for the 40th issue of the literary magazine Rudolfo Anaya started thirty years ago. It’s a privilege to read the submissions you share. Your writing and reading make this magazine possible. You probably have a million things to do and a million more after that, yet you took the time to write a piece and send it to us. I think that’s rare and beautiful and I thank you for it, very much.