by Carly "Boss Lady" Weisengoff, Fiction Editor, among other things
When I was in fourth grade, my teacher had my class create a book. Each of us got one page to write on, and another page to draw on. We were supposed to write about what we wanted to be when we grew up. At the time, I wanted to be a dog breeder, because I loved dogs.
Spoiler alert: I did not grow up to be a dog breeder. (Honestly? Thank goodness.)
There’s a page in the back of the book, giving kids credit for their work on things like the cover, or the dedication page - pages outside of our allocated spaces.
My name is on that list three times.
When I proofread the staff list for Grub Street this year, I started to laugh, because my name is somehow listed four times.
This isn’t meant to sound braggy - I genuinely don’t understand how this happened. Is it a need for validation? Am I greedy? This wasn’t the original intent for my contribution to this journal.
When I joined the staff of Grub Street, I remember telling myself that being a part of the leadership of Grub is not imperative to my enjoyment of the class. It’s okay not to be in charge of something, I said. It’s okay to let other people tell you what to do.
I kept telling myself, over and over again, that I didn’t have time in my schedule to try and be leadership. I was the treasurer of Towson’s Equestrian Club at the time, which meant that essentially every moment of my life was surrounded by incorrectly-filled out checks, invoices from other schools, approximately 500 pounds of horse hair, and several weird looks from strangers when I showed up to class wearing breeches and smelling like a barn.
But I kept getting a nagging feeling that I would regret it if I didn’t apply for something. So I did. And by some miracle I was allowed to be the Fiction Editor, and by an even greater miracle I was given four other humans to read stories with - all of them sassy, and all of them passionate about the journal. We kept each other accountable through Google Docs, and occasionally 10pm texts from me passively-aggressively telling members to get their shit together and read (please and thank you).
My team was great, and I tried to help them get through the semester, especially when we got a mountain of submissions. I always tried to base my decisions on their schedules, and tried my best to help them sift through the influx of 30-page stories we received in November.
During the final class period of the fall semester, all of the staff were told to chill out over winter break (no pun intended). Don’t read submissions, don’t obsess over the journal, and wait until spring semester to hit the ground running.
Somehow, I set the journal aside for a month, which is something I’ve never been able to do when I’ve loved being a part of something.
And then spring semester hit, and I had two new souls to debate the value of submissions with. Liz recruited me to read with her team, as an extra pair of eyes to get through the piles of poetry. We decided on our pieces, and both of our teams were, for the most part, dissolved for other teams. Proofreading, design, sequencing, general sweating over the outcome of the journal. You know. The usual.
By this point I had completely thrown out my original intentions for my contributions, and immersed myself in Grub Street’s production.
So much for taking a step back.
I helped whenever I could, either by answering the editor-in-chief’s 11pm texts about anxiety-inducing late-night thoughts (which were always valid questions, and were almost always questions I had the answer to), creating yet another Google Doc for the class to use, or getting to class 3 hours early and sitting outside the room with Jess, Liz, Marissa, and Nichole in our own version of The Breakfast Club - with occasional visits from James and Rachel, when their 9:30 class became too intolerable to sit through all at once.
These people are my friends, and I wanted to help them through their stressors. This turned into attending design meetings with Jess, or helping Nichole with social media.
I told people to shut up and compromise during sequencing, and I told people you’re doing great sweetie when proofreading.
Mostly, I told people that guys, we made a journal. We did a thing.
The many hats that I wore during the making of volume 67 are now hats for others to wear next year. But somehow, I feel like I didn’t do enough. My friends were still stressed, and as much as I tried, I couldn’t help them relax.
I know someone will look at the staff list and think wow, okay, someone was an overachiever and couldn’t keep her nose out of everything.
I wish there was a way to tell that person that I just wanted to help.
Grub Street is Towson University's award-winning literary journal, run by undergraduates enrolled in "Editing the Literary Magazine."