Here's my de-allegorizing interpretation of Travis's music video "Writing to Reach You" as a story about the peer review process. Watch the video and read along.
The whole process is a "front stage" activity in Goffman's sense. Backstage, [0:04] you touch up the manuscript before submitting it, you put on your best face. Then you submit it [0:20], the manuscript is now in process.
[0:37] You get the answer back from the journal. The reviewers have some hard words [0:55] to say about your work. But it sort of hurts them [1:16] as much as it hurts you to hurl criticism at your manuscript. After reading their report you pick yourself up. You keep going.
[1:25] Though their own projects are stuck in their own way, your colleagues are waiting and willing to help. They offer you support and you submit the paper again.
[1:55] You receive the answer from the second round of reviews. A senior editor is now taking an active interest. [2:05] You feel like you have to run for cover, but [2:35] when the dust settles and the smoke clears you can see he was only taking one of your reviewers out of the equation [2:50].
Still, you sort of like that reviewer's style, and you try it out for few paragraphs in your next rewrite. You incorporate one of his ideas as a sort of scalp [2:53]. The other reviewer is not impressed [2:56]. Fortunately, you've developed a thick skin. You absorb the new criticism and cast off the more outrageous arrows [3:02]. That idea you took from the discarded reviewer's comments wasn't really you anyway [3:17].
You get ready to resubmit another version [3:21]. There's a brief moment of hesitation [3:29], but you do it anyway. When you get the letter saying your paper has been accepted it's like coming home. [3:35] Your colleagues and your peers are in the same room, so to speak. In fact, one of your anonymous reviewers reveals who she is and congratulates you [3:40]. She loves your paper now, and she's going to run with a few of your ideas. [3:43]
You're backstage again. [3:45] Your inside is outside.