Editor Zachary Benavidez reflects on his time leading the Potomac Review.

When Julie Wakeman-Linn first announced that she would be spending a year-and-a-half abroad in Tanzania, I was envious. Like many of us in the English department at MC-Rockville who also serve the Potomac Review, Julie is a writer. Imagine all the time she would have, looking out at the Indian ocean from her home in Dar es Salaam, drinking something cool, spending her days writing. That’s the life. Indeed, Julie wasted no time setting up Gecko Tails her blog about writing, editing, publishing, and other experiences in Africa. Yes, I said editing and publishing. While in Tanzania, Julie produced Their Voices, Their Stories. The book is a collection of fiction by the Bethsaida Orphan Girls’ Secondary School, and the proceeds go to the school.

Julie will be returning to her post as Editor-in-Chief of the Potomac Review in the fall of 2012, busying herself from one continent to another! Over the last three semesters, while serving in her stead as interim editor, I have learned so much about this machine that is the Potomac Review literary and arts journal. I’ve marveled at the quality of work submitted to us; and I’ve enjoyed extending my reach further into the literary world through conferences, contests, and other connections. An editorship is no easy task: reading submissions, managing interns, staying in touch with the many associate editors that freely give their time to reading submissions, not to mention keeping a blog, building an issue for publication, and keeping up with my own teaching and writing. But what fun I have had!

These past semesters, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some great student interns who have interests in creative writing and publishing. Morgan Moyer, Antonio Reid, Emily Alexander, Bob Harris, Marc Buckhannon, Josh Johnson, and Karolina Gajdeczka really make the daily management of our literary journal possible. If it wasn’t for them, submissions wouldn’t get passed on to associate readers, rejections and acceptances wouldn’t get mailed to contributors, and contests wouldn’t be advertised. Thanks gang!

Early on in my term, I met Andrea Pawley at the Conversations & Connections conference in D.C. She’s a local writer with a full-time job in Washington, but she expressed her interest in volunteering for our journal. I invited her to a few staff meetings, and soon she had ideas for revitalizing our online presence. Because of Andrea’s help, we have regular blog posts, weekly Facebook updates, and a five-fold boost in our online readership! Thanks for your service, AP.

My thanks also to Will Grofic, our managing editor and layout designer, who helped keep me up to date with the literary goings-on both locally and nationally. And last but certainly not least, a big thank you to Mrs. Om Rusten, our administrative aid and webmaster. Om has worked with Julie for years, and she knows the editor’s duties like the back of her hand. Om was able to show me the day-to-day steps I needed to take; she helped me with the many forms I needed to fill out (so much paperwork), and she reminded me of budget demands and important deadlines. This job would be impossible without her.

I’ve also received great support from many of my colleagues in the English department and from Carolyn Terry, Dean of Humanities. Many contributors have also been gracious in their correspondences with me. Some things I’ve learned as editor: rejecting submissions is painful; accepting submissions is rewarding; and I have more respect for the folks on both sides of the submission manager–those writers praying for acceptance and those readers praying to encounter a magical piece of writing.

Adieu, Zachary Benavidez