About a week ago Robyn Henderson-Espinoza asked me about the process Gloria Gonzalez-Lopez (GGL) and I used when developing Bridging: How Gloria Anzaldúa’s Life and Work Transformed Our Own, and I thought I’d blog about the process, in case what I say might be useful for others.   I came to Bridging with the invaluable experience of having worked with Gloria Anzaldúa on several projects, including this bridge we call home: radical visions for transformation.  Anzaldúa taught me a lot about the editing process, and whatever I’ve learned is indebted to her.

So, here’s what I remember about the multi-year process of compiling Bridging.  Our process was entirely collaborative.   GGL and I consulted at every step of the way, from brainstorming ideas for the call for papers (CFP), to drafting the CFP, to answering queries, making selections, and more.  Even the index was collaborative.   I really enjoyed and learned a lot from this collaboration.  Because GGL works in the social sciences and my training was in the humanities, we brought different perspectives to the collection, the selection process, and more.

Stage One: Forging the Concept & CFP GGL had the original idea that we should collaborate on a project, and we had several phone conversations to decide the book’s focus.   We used Anzaldúa herself as our guide and model.   One of the things that we had both found very striking about Anzaldúa’s work is her insistence on what I call “risking the personal.”  Therefore, we wanted contributions that required the contributors to engage with Anzaldúa’s work on a personal level (specifically, we wanted contributors to discuss how they encountered Anzaldúa’s writings, in addition to theorizing about her work.)

Stage Two: Sending Out the Call After finalizing the CFP (which involved multiple drafts, lots of emails, and many revisions), we both sent out the CFP as widely as possible–to listservs, friends, colleagues, and so on.   We also created flyers to distribute at conferences.   We also approached colleagues and scholars we admired who had some knowledge about GEA and invited them to contribute.  We were intentional in this process.  We knew that we wanted to include as many types of people as possible: academics, nonacademics, artists, well-known poets, people at the beginning of their careers, people from many ethnic/racial/cultural/etc. bacgrounds, genders, nationalities, and so on.   We wanted to create a type of El Mundo Zurdo.

Stage 2.5: Locating a Publisher In most of my projects, finding a publisher has come a bit later in the process than it did with Bridging.   Because the University of Texas, Austin, Benson Library had recently acquired Anzaldúa’s extensive archival collection, it seemed to make sense to approach the UT Press with the idea of our collection.  Fortunately for us, GGL was right there in Austin and was able to have a conversation with Theresa May, the executive editor, who was very eager to take on this project (or at least to seriously consider because publishers always reserve the right not to publish a manuscript if it doesn’t live up to their expectations).  May’s comnitment to the project was really helpful: the promise of likely publication enabled us to approach better-known scholars (who can be extremely busy and receive many requests for contributions) and assure them that they wouldn’t be pasting their time if they participated in our project.

In another post, I’ll discuss my experiences with the process of working with potential contributors and drafting a prospectus.

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