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The Suisun Valley Review was established as a way for the students of Solano Community College to learn the art and craft of editing a literary journal while putting together their own magazine once a year. Since the first issue was published in 1981, student editors have collaborated on over thirty issues of SVR, carefully selecting the contents from new and established writers from across the U.S. and abroad. The students are also directly involved with creating the overall design aesthetic and narrative of each issue. Each spring, all of their hard work and endless creative energy is repaid with a bound collection of prose and poetry, sold and kept as a testament to sleepless nights.
SVR's 2014 Submission Guidelines

Monday, March 29, 2010

Discussion: Day One

Our first day of discussion, and already we are at each other's throats like ravenous dogs.

In our first piece up for discussion, editors took a personal stand for and against the poem, as though it were their own. We quickly devolved from an educated, well spoken conversation about the merits of a piece of literature, into something like a barroom conversation after three pitchers of beer.

And yet, this is good. we, as editors, are not here to like each other, or even agree with each other very much (indeed, the slimness of our magazine is a testament to how little we actually will end up agreeing). It is good that we are not shy about speaking to each other, being as frank and honest as possible. With practice will come the deftness and tact necessary to keep feelings from being too hurt or crushed. In the next few weeks thin skins will thicken, and we will fall into a groove that will allow us to move through pieces efficiently and productively.

This level of personal and emotional attachment is what is going to make, always makes, SVR a great magazine. And Kudos to the dissenters who stuck to their guns during our revote – not jumping aboard the bandwagon is the hand-holding company to emotional attachment, the real bastion of individual voice in our (not so) little publishing world.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

SVR Gets A Visitor

Today Stephen D. Gutierrez, the first of our two featured writers came to the campus to give a reading from his new book, Live From Fresno y Los, a collection of short stories. Gutierrez is an award winning writer, and the head of the creative writing department at Cal State East Bay.

He gave a moving reading, choosing a pair of stories that showcased the range of his voice, skill, and vision. The reading was given to a full conference room, which was pleasing to see, as art and literature are not always high on the list of priorities of students here at SCC. I am sure there were a number of people there who had never been to a reading before, who hopefully had their interest piqued by the content of Gutierrez’ work, and who will now at least make an effort to attend readings they hear about – if not going so far as to seek them out.

After the reading, Gutierrez came to the SVR class meeting for some intensive Q&A from our editors. He answered every question openly and honestly, sharing his experiences and (some of) his hardships with us, occasionally cracking an egg over our heads. He gave good advice to those of us who are writers, and it was a good chance for the editors to see a skilled craftsman talk about himself and his work. It provided a glimpse into the seriousness of writing and publishing, the reality of the world we are working in.

Stephen D. Gutierrez

Having someone who is recognized as, indeed, makes his living off that recognition, come sit and talk face to face with us definitely brought home the way what we are doing is important more than just in personal terms of fun or fulfillment or a grade, but to writers who depend on literary magazines for legitimization and validation.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cover Fiasco #1

This entry is numbered because there will assuredly be more than one cover fiasco.

Today we were trying to narrow down some of our choices/nominations for the cover. There were fourteen separate images nominated as potential cover pieces - far too many to reasonably work with and have productive conversations about.

So, on Monday we decided to go home and rank our top five potential cover images so we could come to a consensus about which images we should be focusing our attention on. If there were any images not previously nominated that we wanted nominated, we were to nominate them via our class wiki by today's class so they could be included in this initial screening (we are nowhere near selecting our cover image - the deadline for cover submissions isn't until next week).

When we got to class, however, there was some confusion about how many were supposed to be ranked, and exactly how the process was going to work. In an attempt to alleviate said confusion, we ended up ranking all fourteen nominations.

Each editor had a list of fourteen titles in front of him or her, with a number corresponding to first choice for cover image, second choice, and so on. We then went down the list of titles and had everyone vote according to their ranking system (i.e. how many people have picture X as their first choice? How many as their second choice? etc.) We then assigned each vote a score acording to its position on our grid (the math was this: the number of votes multiplied by their corresponding rank - so five votes for first choice would result in a total of five points, while two votes for thirteenth place would result in a score of twenty-six). The totals were then added up, tallied like golf scores, with the lowest number representing the most generalized agreement and desirability of the image.

(Here's what all that actually looks like)

But that picture was taken after two hours' (half an hour beyond our class runtime) worth of tallying. We had to recount our votes more times than the 2004 presidential elections. We could not get our numbers to match up. Each row and each column needed to have a number of votes equal to the number of editors present. It seemed an impossible task.

The problem was one of two things: either we, as a class, were not paying attention to what we were doing, and were not voting consistently, or we were giving in to what amounts to peer pressure - no one wants to be a loner; if half the class obviously doesn't like an image as their first or second choice, it becomes hard for some to go against that grain, to put their lonesome hand up in what feels like opposition to the group.

Probably it was a mixture of both.

Any way we look at it though, today was a wonderful learning and growing experience for our editors. It was not in any way productive (the results were figured out by a couple individuals who stayed far beyond our scheduled meet time, and the bulk of the editors do not yet have the results), and that is the reality of working on a magazine.

If we, as a group, are not constantly on the ball, nothing gets done. It is in our hands.
We need to be prepared, every day, to discuss and review everything on the block for the day. We need to be actively interested in the day's proceedings. We are not in a regular classroom, with regular classroom dynamics. We run the class, and if we don't, then we fail.

This was an eye opening day as to how real the situation we are in is, and it was amazing to watch us figure out our errors and begin to correct them. Just thank who or whatever it is you thank in moments like these that fiasco number one happened so early that it did not throw us very far off schedule.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Good Things Happening

A student from the film/tv production class on campus came in today. She is doing a piece on SVR. She shot some photos and video of the class, and then interviewed several of our editors. I am not sure exactly what the project is going to be, but I am excited to see how it turns out.

We will post the final film here as soon as we get a copy.