Comments from the 2009 Editor

Behind the Scenes with Kendra Coffeen

What goes into editing the Gadfly? Here, Kendra Coffeen shares a glimpse of her yearlong journey to produce the 2009 journal of literature and art:

Q: What does the Gadfly editor do?

A: To begin with, I was responsible for connecting with as many alumni and students as possible to encourage them to submit material. Once I received submissions, I went through everything and selected what I thought we could use.

For the writing pieces, I developed a reading committee made up of students whose taste and judgment I trusted. They read through the submissions I selected and let me know what they thought about each one. Ultimately, I decided what went into the Gadfly, although if every committee member liked a certain poem or prose piece, which happened, I chose to include it. Professor Dan Lamberton and Professor Kellie Bond helped with the final decision-making as well.

Selecting the art was slightly different. I had an excellent art editor, Josh Ferguson, who put together a portfolio of artwork. Then, Josh, Kellie, and I chose what artwork to include.

Throughout this process I continually met with representatives at Color Press, our printer, to set up publication deadlines and the printing schedule, to decide what kind of format we would have and, of course, to learn how much it would cost.

I also helped to make a mockup of the Gadfly, spending hours moving poems, interviews, and artwork around on the pages so that everything flowed and made sense aesthetically and thematically. It was tricky—to be honest—though, I liked that part. I’ve always enjoyed puzzles and getting all of the pieces in the Gadfly organized was a kind of puzzle.

I worked with my graphics editor, Trina Yeo, to put everything in the templates. And after this the real fun began. I really like editing. We went over the Gadfly so many times for any kind of error that I honestly lost count. Even when we thought we had found every error and sent it off to the publisher they found mistakes we had missed, and when I opened the for the first time I noticed several mistakes.

Q: How difficult was it to collect and select content for this issue?

A: Oh boy. That’s the hardest part, getting people to submit. Everyone is so busy that it’s difficult to find time to be creative and write. Some are embarrassed to submit, some don’t want to bother. A lot of material comes from writing classes and from small seminars. Alumni submissions are very important, too. But it’s also a matter of getting out there and practically knocking on doors.

Q: What surprised you about producing the Gadfly?

A: How incredibly detail-oriented it was. I really loathe itty-bitty details. I would much rather assign people to get all the details done, but in this case I had to worry about all the little things involved, and it sometimes drove me crazy. It also surprised me how long the process took. We missed a few deadlines because things took a lot longer than I expected they would take.

Q: How has this Gadfly issue changed your perspective or enriched your level of experience?

A: I had never had any experience like this before. When Dan Lamberton asked if I wanted to be the editor, I had to think about it for a long time. I felt as though I didn’t have the right kind of experience, but he convinced me. So I said yes.

It certainly has made me realize how much effort goes into publishing. It was a look into the technical side of literature I had never seen before. I can’t pick up a magazine with the same nonchalance like I used to. And magazines come out every month! It took us almost a year for the Gadfly. After being the editor of such a project, I feel like I have the skills to do something of that nature again.

Q: What are you most proud of with this Gadfly?

A: How it all came together to make a little book you can hold in your two hands. I guess that’s kind of obvious, but that’s what I feel proud of the most: when I can reach in my bookshelf, pull out the Gadfly and flip through the pages, knowing that I helped it go from invisible to tangible.

Kendra Coffeen is a 2010 graduate with majors in Spanish and English (with secondary teaching certification). When she’s not editing, you might find her playing piano or her string bass, reading, fishing, traveling and enjoying the outdoors, or watching Gonzaga University basketball (“I’m a huge Gonzaga basketball fan!”).