Editor’s Notebook: The Power of “I”
I like to use this feature either to peek behind the editorial curtain, as when I put together a piece on our favorite issue quotes last May; or to revisit and celebrate a previously published piece (as I did here). I look forward to doing both of these things in the coming months, but as September 2022 arrives, opening the door to the glory of our third season of Waterwheel Review—I almost can’t believe I just wrote “third” but here we are, our baby is still bouncing and beautiful, and I’m more in love with her than ever—I want to step more deeply into our process. I want to offer a peek behind the authorial curtain.
We three editors are writers, first. Our friendship community was forged by and for writing, and that’s still our primary focus. Through our decade together, we’ve used many tools to keep each other in tune with our writing lives. In the last year or so we settled on a very simple one to focus our writing energy: I-words.
We each chose an I-word to meditate on, hold in our mind’s eye, float before us every time we sat down to write. The word served as a reminder of what we wanted to accomplish with our writing and in our writing lives. Why an I-word rather than some other letter? I can’t remember but as I write this post, I’m thinking Suzanne, who I’m sure suggested this exercise, was clever to choose the one letter that also happens, in English, to constitute a word that stands for personhood. No surprise she’s the nonfiction writer among us. She thinks deeply about the “I” every time she writes.
We chose Ignite, Integrate, Intend.
Did it work? Like any tool, yes and no. I’ll just speak for myself and admit that I have until recently done very little writing throughout the pandemic, and the smallness of my efforts was beginning to take a very serious toll. More and more this year I was feeling the way I always feel when I go too long without writing anything of substance—fractured, unfocused, uninterested. But I pulled out my I-word here and there, opened a Word file … and, eventually, what do you know. Ignition. I am now fully immersed in a writing project conceived while meditating on my I-word, and, as always before, my almost daily writing practice is my salvation.
And now here we are; the Maine sky has begun to take on that saturated blue of September, and there’s a hint of chill in the morning air. I do relish opening the door to this third season. We’re back! And we need new words.
We are writers, first, and by necessity. Our drive to discover and spotlight fine, moving, unique work is born entirely of our reverence for every aspect of writing as makers. This project of crafting art with words … we just can’t get enough of it. But it’s clear to all of us that the wheel has to keep turning. If all the water flows in one direction only, under and through the wheel, from us and into the magazine—none lifted by the turning blades, none coming back to us—then there is no replenishing and the source runs dry.
In renewed understanding of how important it is that we nourish ourselves and each other as writers so that we can step up with enthusiasm and energy as editors, I suggested we select new I-words for our new season: Our 20th or so season as writers, our 10th or so season in writing community, and our 3rd season as co-editors. All—writing, community, editing—linked and replenished by the waterwheel.
Our new words: Invent. Invest. Intensify.
Welcome to Season Three.