I knew, going in, that co-editing an anthology was a thankless task. Oh, I knew. William Germano had certainly told me in no uncertain terms, and I'd heard intimations of what I consider to be anthology horror stories. I knew, too, that the level of recognition it generates from the institutional machine, vis-a-vis things like merit and tenure, is far outstripped by the work one puts in. But, I said, sign me up!! (Not without some angst, to be sure...) I really wanted to work on this particular project - really was quite excited about it - and loved the idea of meaningful collaboration.
My co-editor and I - come together, basically, for this - get on famously. The collaborative aspect is extremely rewarding. We seem to have a very similar take on most of the issues that come up - and on the work that we're reading for the volume. And I really value hir extraordinary ability to be both blunt and diplomatic. Also, I'm in awe of hir intellect, and hir nuanced and extraordinarily learned readings.
But, do I ever wonder, sometimes, what we've gotten ourselves into. The majority of the essays we've read have been mediocre. Some quite astonishingly poor: so senseless that I am shocked they would be sent to us as finished drafts. Some we will have to reject altogether. It is clear, too, that the process will drag on far longer than we imagined it would...
I am afraid that I have come to see the wisdom of forgoing the anthology. At least until tenure, when presumably one will have more of a chance to futz around with poor work for draft after draft. Not that I'd want to stop this project at this point - there remains a lot to be gained from it, and from our collaboration. But I might rethink the decision to embark on such a project to begin with. The end result, I feel certain, will be fabulous, but the going is proving to be tough.