by Xavier "Late to the Game" Stewart, Fiction team member
Fiction Team Member. Even the title seems unassuming. At least that’s what I thought when I first got my assignment for this year’s addition of Grub Street. Of course I was happy to be given a position on a team that I liked, but in my mind, at that moment, the staff had determined that I was not as important as a genre editor or an editor in chief.
Looking back I should be smarter than that.
Over the course of the next few months the fiction team of five embarked on a journey that wouldn’t end until March of that year. In that time we grew as a staff, grew as writers, and, at least for me, grew as people. To be honest, I had no problem with being unimportant, it was almost a built in excuse for me to not give my full effort. School has never been my thing, the past ten years of my life had been spent scraping by trying to figure out why I even bothered. So suffice to say it was not and has not been a fear of a low grade that fueled my change of heart.*
The real change for me started with a text. My editor, Carly, wondering why I was slacking so much on our readings. To make a long story short, the fiction team’s workflow isn’t one that can be carried by one person. So while technically our editor was above us, when it came to the pieces and their merit her vote was as good as ours.
So while I could hypothetically do very little and the journal would go on without me, the system begins to break down the less people buy into it.
That realization alone was as good as gasoline on an oil fire for me. My production, and participation, shot up. I distinctly remember being 15-20 works behind my colleagues and spending countless hours at my internship making up the difference. By the end of the semester I had finished one story ahead of Marissa “The Machine” Burns, and had made my way through at least 80 works of varying qualities. In truth it’s not a notable portion of our journal’s journey. The journal honestly could have proceeded without my input and have been just as good. But that obscures something else that happened. If I had done that I would have never seen myself as a part of the process instead of just a spectator to it.
In closing I’d like to apologize to my colleagues on staff. Obviously for telling you a story about how I got myself together and stopped being deadweight to the fiction team, but to something more important as well. The thing I need to apologize for the most is putting you all on a pedestal. Our staff is amazing and the work they put in is astounding, but at the end of the day they’re only human. So while they could definitely carry me across the finish line that is our publication, it would be because I think whether I put in effort or not is irrelevant when it would mean the world to them. I’ve had a difficult year but I’m not alone in that, the thought of making someone else’s life harder is unbearable. The people who staff this journal are not robots who slave away for hours to bring Grub Street to life mechanically. They are people with hopes, dreams, and passions that pour their time into something they care about. Those people made me care too, which I think is pretty cool.
So when you’re taking a break to digest one of the works in this year’s edition (I promise you they’re really good), take a trip over to the staff listing. While they might just be names on a page, attached to each of those names is a person who put a chunk of their time into the book that you’ll be holding.
You’ll even see me there, a person who finally found a reason to bother.
*Please don't tell my mom.
Grub Street is Towson University's award-winning literary journal, run by undergraduates enrolled in "Editing the Literary Magazine."