Friday, March 13, 2009

Editorial Board Divided By "Hyena"

(Well, not by an actual hyena. Now that would just be plain silly. And terrifying. Though it probably would expedite the submission process.) The hyena in question is my eponymous story, “Hyena,” and the editorial board is that of the Blue Mesa Review, the University of New Mexico’s excellent literary magazine.

BMR has published such luminaries as Joy Harjo and Leslie Marmon Silko, both of whom managed to unite a perspicacious but contentious board of readers. You see, I figure I’ve spent several of these blogs waxing rhapsodic about the 1% of story submissions I’ve sent out that have been accepted for publication, and the rest of the time lamenting outright rejections, form letters, and editors who read my work and subsequently bled from the eyes. But I’ve neglected to discuss the in-betweens, the limbo land of a jury divided.

Probably because it’s a new experience for me. This may be the first time, in fact, that I’ve queried an editor about my submission status – in this case because they’ve had “Hyena” for just under a year now – and been told that the editorial board was split. What does this mean? Half hated it, and half drooled over the story of a couple vacationing for a month in South Africa, during which their safari guide is partially consumed by a leopard? Or some cross-section just shrugged, feeling ambivalent about animal maulings and a marriage on the brink?

Naturally I’ve come to my own paranoid, delusional, sexist conclusions. A-ha! The board must be divided along gender lines. Clearly the men hated a story told from a female protagonist’s point-of-view! (But she was a desperately flawed character – can’t the women-haters get on board with that?) Bingo! The women readers hated her because she rejected her adopted baby! Everybody hates baby-haters! (But wasn’t her rejection a poignant moment, one in which she at least becomes partly sympathetic?) Maybe it’s neither of these. Maybe some contingent saw through my thinly veiled attempt to fictionalize an "Anderson Cooper character" in honor of my celebrity crush, and being Sean Hannity fans, has decided to penalize my ever-lovin’ CNN self.

Oh well. Maybe the board will unite in the end and decide to publish “Hyena.” I hope so, if only because The University of New Mexico and BMR have a permanent place in my heart. My husband and I spent a wonderful summer living in Albuquerque, roaming the campus, hiking the Sandias, braving the Aerial Tramway, and enduring a trial-by-fire introduction to the red versus green chile wars. (Not to mention a strange, beautiful, transcendent moment I shared with an orangutan at the Rio Grande Zoo.) Whether BMR rejects my story or not, I sure miss you, New Mexico. I can’t lie. It would be an honor to be associated with UNM’s fine literary journal. But it's equally great just to have grazed past, if only for a moment and if only by association, Bill Richardson’s lush beard.

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