Essay Rejection and Response

October 27, 2008

I received word that my essay didn’t fit the pattern of other work delivered at the Invent-L Imaging Place conference and that it needed major revisions. Here’s the email I received in full:

We’ve consulted with our readers and the general consensus is that your contribution is not yet ready for publication in this particular journal issue. The readers enjoyed your essay as did I, but they want a better sense of how it fits with the rest of the collection. The journal volume focuses on specific imaging place projects. The readers felt that you talked in general terms about fascinating aspects of imaging, and offered a wonderful experiment. They also thought it was two or three essays smashed together: one on Ulmer and Deleuze; one on The Quick Brown Fox; and, one on SL. Finally, they want you to make the essay more of a journal article and less a paper presentation by removing the references to the conference in the body of the text, and citing it, if you’d like, and putting those citations in notes and in a bibliography. It reads like a paper rather than an article at this time.

They saw your essay as a wonderful experiment about topology that would certainly fit in another issue, or something that might fit here if you were to provide a more elaborate answer of how your work led to new insights in imaging place specifically.

The specific changes requested would be to revise the essay with a discussion of how it fits with the imaging place focus. Then, the article would need to explain how the experiment with the Quick Brown Fox or the Ulmering of Deleuze led to new theoretical insights about imaging place.

All that said, I personally liked the essay, loved your performance, and think the work it considers worth publishing.

As you can appreciate, our timelines are very short: we’d need to have the revised contribution in hand no later than the end of the month (August 31) to facilitate one final editorial review. Please let me know if you think this is feasible and whether you’d like to proceed with such a revision. The editorial group would like to include your work, but only if the revision successfully addresses the issues raised above.

I responded as follows:

Sorry for not responding sooner. I have to admit to being very frustrated about receiving this one week before major revisions were due, at the end of a summer vacation during which I could have worked on such revisions. It was especially frustrating after having submitted the draft a whole year earlier–one of the few submitted on time, I think.

I was also surprised that there wasn’t any room for something a bit on the edge in terms of form and content. While it certainly didn’t fit the pattern of other projects, I thought that it addressed questions that the conference topic raised and suggested future avenues for research and consideration. The references to the conference within the text were meant to ground it in the event of the conference, a grounding I thought necessary given the great abstraction of some of the content.

Perhaps some of you may know of a journal or venue that would consider it as is, given its strengths and faults as you have determined them. Or perhaps you plan a future issue of an IMAGING PLACE journal in which this would be a better fit.

Thank you for the time you took in considering the essay. And thank you for the great honor of including me in the conference–for squeezing me in as you did. I enjoyed the chance to move among the grammatologists once again and to lend my vision to the goals of the Larger Project–after climbing atop the shoulders of giants

I have to admit to wondering why they delayed so long in responding: was it to discourage me from working on a revision, since it was so different from the rest of the projects? But I have to assume that they were all just too busy to turn their attention to this work, and when the time came for them to do so, they left it to the last minute, as we all do–though I think that they had some idea of what they wanted to include based on the conference presentations.