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The Whirlwind Review

Friday evening, I put the latest issue of The Whirlwind Review online.

Editing The Whirlwind Review—an online literary journal focusing on the connections between writing and spirituality—is one of the most fulfilling things I do. It is also one of the most nerve-wracking. It is nerve wracking partly because there’s just so much work—weeks and weeks and weeks of work—to get each issue up. Also, because there’s such a variety of work. As editor-in-chief, I oversee the entire production, read every submission—over 240 for this issue—and handpick the ones to publish. Of course, I am not just editor-in-chief, I’m also managing editor, associate editor, poetry editor, fiction editor, reader, finance manager, web designer, administrative assistant, and janitor. I am in charge of advertising, promotion, scheduling, communicating with contributors, and writing code.

What this means is that the buck stops with me. I am the only one stopping bucks. If something goes wrong, I’m at fault, and if something goes terribly wrong, I’m terribly at fault. And, though something going wrong at a literary journal may not be as serious as something going wrong in, say, an operating room or an air traffic control tower, it is not unserious either. Because every writer who has submitted their work to The Whirlwind Review has entrusted me with something precious. It’s as if there is a crowd of anxious parents at the edge of a river, and I’m the one who’s agreed to ferry their beautiful children across.

The worst part is that I can’t take all the children. Not because some of them aren’t beautiful enough or smart enough or because they talk in class, but because there just isn’t enough room in the boat. So I have to tell most of the parents that they need to find another way to get their precious ones across that water. And since there are so many, I can’t even tell them personally, but have to make a general announcement. Every single work I reject, I want to say something like, “Your poem made me cry, but I can’t take it because I have three others too similar.” But since I can’t write over 200 personal emails, I just send everyone I’m not accepting the same one, which always makes me feel like I’m being rude.

When the Review comes out, I always get a major case of the postpartum wackadoodles, and this weekend was no exception. I had slated the weekend for working on my novel. Instead, I orbited Neptune. I was overcome with the fear that the Review wasn’t going to get enough readership. That I’d ferry those children to the other side of the river, but no one would be there to meet them. So I spent hours and hours checking the stats of how many people were reading the review and posting links to it. I emailed and Facebooked dozens of friends and colleagues asking them to check out the review and “share” it. (“Click the link! Click the link! DO IT NOW.”)

I shouldn’t have worried. Readers always find the Review somehow and always seem to tell their friends. Publish it and they will come.

And so, here it is, Issue # 3 of The Whirlwind Review. Enjoy.