by Rachel "Straight Outta Portland" Villa
First step: Meet your fellow staff members. Be sociable, confident, and excited. You’ll be building a journal from scratch together, working on a collaborative art project that will become its own entity. Eat a cupcake that an editor baked for everyone.
Second step: Dream up a design concept. Something inviting, something warm and user-friendly. Let the journal take shape in your mind. Get excited about color palette; begin to care more about sans serif and serif fonts than you ever imagined you could.
Third step: Content. Lots of it. Enough to fill a respectable journal with poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and visual art. Try to get proportionate amounts of each. Argue with your genre team about craft levels, voice, originality, and clarity. Change your opinion a few times. Be decidedly stubborn a few more times. Read over a thousand submissions, select less than one hundred.
Fourth step: Rejoice! Eat a cupcake in celebration. You have the pieces that make up the journal. The hard part is over, right?
Fifth step: Sequencing. Try to identify common themes and link them together. Find art pieces that could pair with poetry or prose. Spend hours putting each piece in a particular place, then argue with the rest of the staff about what should go where. Consider throwing the entire journal down a flight of stairs and accepting the sequence as it falls. Gorge yourself on cupcakes. Breathe. Choose what should open the journal and what should close it. Work from there.
Sixth step: Have vital pieces withdrawn from the journal. Panic. Be told to “get it together!” Figure out how to rearrange the sequence without these pieces; end up with a better sequence than before. Smile. Assert that you knew all along that it would work out.
Seventh step: Editing. Editing, editing, editing. Editing.
Eighth step: Spend a quick moment lamenting the loss of your sleep schedule and social life. Consider how well you could be doing in your other classes if you had time to think about them. Snap out of it. Reprimand yourself for losing focus for five precious minutes.
Ninth step: More editing, with cupcakes.
Tenth step: Send pages back to the designer, confident in their editorial perfection.
Eleventh step: Receive second pages back from the designer. Notice nearly a mistake per page. Go through lots and lots of sticky notes marking each margin error, each incorrectly-styled ellipsis, and each misspelled word.
Twelfth step: Send final pages back to the designer, anticipate their arrival at the printer. Discuss the journal’s social media campaign, the launch party, and whether or not the journal will arrive in time for its official release date.
Thirteenth step: Receive the finished journal in all its glory. Touch the pages, crack the binding, trace over your name on the staff list with pride. Never be able to appreciate it for what it is because you’ve read every piece seven times. Treasur
Grub Street is Towson University's award-winning literary journal, run by undergraduates enrolled in "Editing the Literary Magazine."