Academic journal article Journal of Singing

What I Do, I Think

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

What I Do, I Think

Article excerpt

SOME TIME AGO, I READ a rather dark novel by L. Woiwode, What I'm Going To Do, I Think. I was attracted to the book both by its arresting title and because of its setting in Michigan, near where I grew up. Perhaps the title is not exclusively colloquially Midwestern, but it is an expression that certainly is very familiar to me, one that my dad often used. I eventually came to think of it as rather oxymoronic, where the determined confidence of the first clause is demolished by the uncertain timidity of the second. Nonetheless, I have appropriated and adapted the expression to head this essay, which essentially is a response to questions raised in conversation with friends, colleagues, and readers (many of whom, I gratefully report, inhabit all three categories).

After a more than a decade at the helm of this publication, it seems that my life may be summed up in a paraphrase of Descartes: Corriga, ergo sum (I make correct [edit], therefore I am). I am often asked what I as editor of the Journal of Singing do, and how much time it takes. The latter is difficult to quantify; in addition to hands-on stuff, which I certainly can count in hours and minutes, I spend a great deal of time planning future issues, evaluating reader response, contemplating direction of the journal and - in the oft-parodied words of George H. W. Bush-"the vision thing," and many other intangibles. That's all part of what I do, I think.

Talking about duties in the editorial trenches is far easier. At the outset, I need to acknowledge my profound gratitude to my six associate editors and seven other regular contributors who write columns in their various areas of professional expertise for every issue, which material comprises roughly three-quarters of the printed matter in each publication.

I receive approximately 22-25 mostly unsolicited manuscripts every year; with each, I send a letter immediately to its author, acknowledging receipt of the article and assuring its careful consideration. After amassing a half dozen or so, I render the submissions anonymous and send them electronically to my Editorial Board for peer review. Once again, I must record my deep thanks to these committed colleagues for their valued contribution to the Association and periodical. Ordinarily, I do not read the articles carefully at this stage. If evaluations are negative, or if they are mixed-a not unusual happenstance-I will read to see whether and/or to what extent I concur. Although I rely heavily on Editorial Board assessments, the final decision is mine. Upon completion of the peer review process, I send a status letter to the author, advising him/her concerning my decision.

A repository of approximately 1½ years' worth of publishable articles is a rare luxury for an editor, although, admittedly, a situation that requires considerable patience and understanding on the part of the authors. From submission to publication, in fact, can last up to two years. I generally publish pieces in order of their receipt, but always taking into consideration matters of interest, variety, and balance. Readers will have noticed that I like to construct themed issues when possible; typical examples have been issues featuring women composers, African American music, repertoire issues, but also include a rarity such as the 2007 Richard Miller Festschrift. Several weeks prior to an article appearing in print, I send a letter to its author indicating my intent to publish, requesting any materials that still may be needed, and offering opportunity for any final additions, corrections, elaborations, and the like.

Following the deadline for contributors, when all materials should (note italics) be in my hands, I have one month to develop a manuscript for that particular issue in order to submit to Laura Carter, our excellent graphics artist. …

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