The Other Good Side of Editing

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As the editor-in-chief, there’s little that feels better than putting the finishing touches on the issue and getting the work of the publication’s many contributors out into the world. But there’s another good side to editing that has little to do with publishing.

I have to decline far more submissions than I accept (that’s not the good part). Occasionally, however, a submission is close, and if I can find the time I’ll provide critical comments on the essay, poem, or story. That doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, of course. But just the other day I received an email from the writer Shura Young that really made my day. Here it is, with her permission to reprint:

To Simmons Buntin,

In May 2007, you emailed me a page of suggestions in response to an early version of my essay, “Tar Pits.” With that encouragement, I continued two years of revising. “Tar Pits” was published in the 2009 Flyway, A Journal of Writing and Environment, and was selected as Notable in The Best American Essays 2010. Flyway recently interviewed me on their blog [read the interview here].

Although I’ve had nothing else so far that I felt would fit, I wanted to express appreciation for the useful feedback you took the time to give me.

Shura Young


Though I admit some envy that Flyway, a lovely print journal, got the opportunity to consider the revised essay when we didn’t, I am delighted to learn that Shura continued to work on it and that it found a home and recognition even beyond that. As an editor, it is very gratifying to know that I had a small part in the essay’s success. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.