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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.
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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.