by Nichole "What Happens in Vegas" Coster, Director of Social Media and Web Content Manager
It’s a pretty common occurrence: you’re class is assigned a major project, and you’re grouped into teams to complete it.
Then the complaining begins.
When I work in a group, I always end up doing more than my fair share. When I work in a group, it takes so much longer to complete the project. When I work in a group, I get so stressed out.
Conflict takes many forms in a group dynamic—dissent, irrationality, incivility, diverse backgrounds and cultures, burnout, and even past experiences can cause frustration as we attempt to work as a team to problem-solve or achieve a goal.
My team wants to accept submissions that I don’t like. Our journal sequence makes no sense to me. I don’t think the social media team does any work.
But, aren’t we on the same team? Shouldn’t we all just act like adults and avoid conflict?
No. A little conflict in a group helps produce the best possible outcomes. When equal consideration is given for the task at hand and the group participants, a true collaboration can occur. All members of the team support each other as they work towards a shared goal, and as a result, they are likely to accomplish something greater than any one of them could independently.
ENGL 414 & 415, Editing the Literary Magazine I & II, attracts students from different majors, interests, and goals. The diverse personalities and skillsets of students who work on this journal are an asset to the publication. Working through stress and conflict together over two semesters motivates and bonds staff members, and the experience becomes more than coursework. It’s not ENGL 414 & 415—it’s Grub Street.
Entire class periods spent pondering the ethos of Grub Street will inspire and motivate some students and utterly bore others. The prospect of publicizing the journal with class visits and social media posts will be the most important task to some and an afterthought to others. Eight hours of proofreading first pages of the journal will be a drop in the bucket for some and an unreasonable workload to others.
The lessons of Editing the Literary Magazine I & II go beyond those listed in the TU course catalogue descriptions. Our changing economy has given rise to flatter organizational communication, and students will graduate into a professional environment with more teams, less ridged hierarchical management, and more accountability. Those students who embrace team work, and really work on their interpersonal communication skills are likely to be rewarded with more professional successes, richer professional relationships, and leadership roles in their careers.
by Cat "Probably Adele" Wahl, Creative Nonfiction team and Poetry team member
I personally believe that there are no “bad writers.” No one can really be bad at putting words on a page or a screen or a napkin or your hand.
What does require skill is writing for an audience. Any audience will do. After hours of drowning in self-doubt, perfecting every sentence/word/syllable, tearing up and starting over for the thousandth time, nothing is more satisfying than for someone to understand what you have been so desperately trying to communicate. And sometimes they understand it, but understand it wrong, and that is still okay.
But some people may never be able to fully achieve this. To me, the value of a person’s writing isn’t determined by another’s comprehension of it. Writing does so much more than communicate.
Writing is the story you wrote in eighth grade that your teacher hated. Writing is the text you sent your fiend about the old man’s weird hat at the grocery store. Writing is that story of that horrible, awkward first date that you had that no one will believe. Writing is the little song you sing while you’re cleaning your room. Writing is that conversation you overheard in the restaurant booth next to yours. Writing is the scribbles you make on a page while you’re crying on the bathroom floor. Writing is all those angsty letters you wrote to yourself as a teenager. Writing is your memory of the dream you had last night.
Everyone can and should write, even if it’s something they keep to themselves.
Writing has helped me to understand myself. Through writing I can put myself on a page and read it over and over again, reminding myself of who I am, separating myself from everything and everyone because the only thing on that page is me.
So when I read “bad writing,” I don’t say that it’s bad because what I have read is a glimpse into a person. I’ll offer criticism that might improve the communication, the message, the rhythm, or the structure. All of this, may be bad, but this does not make that person a “bad writer.” When offering criticism in workshop, it is key to not just tear apart a person’s work. Being unnecessarily aggressive/negative shuts down a person’s ability to be receptive to what you’re saying.
So how do you get good at writing? I encourage everyone to keep a journal, to jot down all the thoughts they have throughout the day, no matter how serious or silly. There’s not enough space in our heads to hold all those thoughts. Often we clog our headspace with meaningless things. Often the brain is not very good at deciding what has meaning and what does not, so many of the serious/silly thoughts that you would like to remember, you forget, unless you write them down. Maybe one day, you’ll be better at twisting those thoughts into things that people can understand. Maybe not, but even if no one else knows you, at least you know you. And now you have a book of you. Leave a piece of yourself on every page, and by the end you’ll have your whole life story.
Journaling is a personal, almost spiritual experience. To come to understand oneself by flipping through the pages of a book gives a feeling that I can’t put into words. Whenever I’m looking for writing inspiration, I go to my journal. Nothing is more inspiring than life.
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
James "Big Fan of Wind" Hancock, Creative Nonfiction editor
When I mention to someone that I write creative non-fiction, one of the most common responses I get is something along the lines of “I wish my life was interesting enough to write about” or “I don’t have anything exciting to talk about with my writing.” These responses are the result of a skewed belief on what makes good creative non-fiction: that you need to live an interesting or exciting life to be able to write amazing non-fiction.
We’ve all seen them: bookshelves in the non-fiction section of bookstores featuring the memoirs of famous doctors, chefs, or celebrities. They’re the bestsellers, the tales about beating cancer or learning how to live after reaching rapid success from playing the role in a blockbuster movie. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of these books being bestsellers. Instead, the problem lies within the stigma that comes with these books being bestsellers. These are the books that lead writers to believe that they aren’t allowed to write about themselves unless they’ve experienced some form of traumatic event or conquered a great ordeal. Thankfully, that doesn’t need to be the case at all.
During my time as the creative non-fiction editor for Grub Street, I’ve read a lot of non-fiction submissions. Some of them were wonderful, some of them needed work, but almost all of them had something in common: they were never about the kinds of extraordinary things you saw in bookstores. Instead, plenty of them were about normal, everyday aspects of the authors’ lives. This is because creative non-fiction, like any kind of story, is all about how it’s told.
At first glance, telling a story about the day your 2nd grade pet died might seem relatively simple. But if you take a second to reflect, you might be surprised. Think about the ways that loss might have affected you, how it may have changed you in the future. The moment you start to tell your reader about the complex sort of emotions and thoughts that you experienced, you begin crafting a re-telling of something that was wholly unique to you, and nobody else. Sure, the loss of your pet hamster may sound less intriguing than the bestselling memoir about someone who was a prodigal musician from the age of three, but if you can tell your story effectively, then you could have a non-fiction piece that is equally as interesting.
Now for some, telling a life story in an interesting way also means bending the facts a little bit for the sake of telling a more fascinating tale. I’m here to try to encourage you not to do this. Sometimes, it’s tempting to alter even the slightest part of your memory to help spice things up, and it doesn’t help that your readers have no way of knowing what’s a lie and what isn’t. However, looking at your memories as a type of creative constraint, rather than a restrictive one, can completely change how you write about yourself for the better.
Our memories might not always be right (in fact, they can quite often be wrong), but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored. Sometimes, you can run into a situation where it would be far more artistic or profound to order your memories or portray an emotion in a way that didn’t happen, and it can be frustrating when you’re trying so hard to tell it how it is. Instead of looking at your memories as something that restricts you from being able to write, try looking at them as a challenge that forces you to be creative. Instead of lying about how sad you were when your pet hamster died, consider reflecting on why you weren’t that sad. If things didn’t happen the way you wanted them to, talk about that instead of pretending like they did. It might take some work but doing so might help you discover a new way of conveying a scene while still being totally honest with yourself and your readers.
Writing creative non-fiction can be a scary thing for some. I’ve read some very personal submissions for Grub Street, and it makes a lot of sense why some people are put off by this genre. But know this: your story, like anybody else’s, is important. Not because you climbed Mount Everest (because let’s be real, who has?), and not because you have millions of subscribers on YouTube. Your story is important because it happened to you. So please, if you or anyone you know has ever been too put off from creative non-fiction because you don’t think your lives are important enough to write about, just remember: both you and your stories matter. It’s just all in how you tell the tale.
by Dorcree "Hair Game 100" Thomas, Art team member
No writer is immune to the bitter sting of rejection. If you consider yourself a writer and have been on this journey for a while then it’s highly likely that you too, have faced your share of rejection letters, but fear not, rejection is not always as bad as it seems. Some of the greatest writers did not find success the first time around. It took persistence, faith, and knowing that no matter what happened, or how many times they were rejected, giving up was not an option. As a member of Grub Street, we receive thousands of submission a year, but not everyone will be accepted. This post will show all inspiring writers how to see rejection as a way to grow, and thrive. First and foremost rejection:
1. Shines a Light on Our Inner Critic
Our inner critic can be very helpful sometimes, helping us to spot plot holes, errors, and characters who are not well developed in our stories. This is the reason why most writers never publish their first draft. Its because it goes against everything the inner critic believes in, which is, “You can do better.” When used effectively the inner critic can help writers to reach their fullest potential. However, when that inner voice turns hostile, it helps us to see how we can scare ourselves into writer's block, unwilling to write due to the fear of rejection. To combat the shadow side of the inner critic, perseverance is a must, and so is challenging what the inner critic tells you. Self criticism should be constructive, valuable, and most importantly compassionate. Instead of self persecution, (acting as if a rejection is the end of the world), focus more on self correcting, and find ways to improve your writing. It helps by remembering that a rejection letter, or email is usually “Never Personal.” The editor is not condemning you or even your work. Often, its just not the right time, or the writing piece is not what the editors were looking for. Maybe someone else met the criteria, but remember this should not discourage you, but instead motivate you to improve!
2. Rejection Letters are Proof that You Do Not Give Up Easily
We often hear stories of writers who are published and become bestsellers. One thing these types of writers have in common is the amount of rejection letters they piled up over the years. JK Rowling, and Stephen King are two well known, best selling authors who were rejected time and time again before they were able to catch a publishing deal. This is what made them so inspiring, not the fact that they were published, but how they never gave up despite how many rejection they received over the years.
Most people want the fame and success that comes with publishing a popular novel, but rarely do they think about the process. Rejection is a part of that process, and its time we stopped looking at rejection as the end, and started looking at it as the beginning of greater things to come.
3. Rejection Is a Call to Action!
Rejection is valuable no matter how much we try to deny it. Sometimes rejection tells us that our work is lacking in some area, and there is space to improve. Rejection teaches us how to make things better when we focus less on the rejection itself, and more, on how we can avoid making the mistakes that led to being rejected. We can do this by working on our craft daily. A good writer, writes often, and is usually overcome with motivation after receiving a reject letter.
Writers who have never experienced rejection are hard to relate to or root for, because its seems so unreal, and unauthentic. Rarely will the majority of aspiring writers get it right the first time, and those who do are far and few in between. It is always best to accept rejection as a part of life as a writer, because we are always growing and getting better at our craft. For every rejection there is improvement to be made, and the best part, your unlikely to make the same mistake again.
I hope this helps aspiring writers to overcome their fear of rejection. It is a path that almost every writer will go down, and although it can sting because nobody likes being rejected, it is necessary. However, rejection is never permanent and your writing will improve from it!
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.
by Leah "You Butter Believe It" Bradford, Fiction team member and archivist
A manager once told me to “work smart, not hard.” And I’ve taken that to heart. Whenever I can, I try to find a more efficient way to get work done. I’ve found that setting individual deadlines for small steps in each assignment helps me to complete the project before its due date. This process allows me to feel accomplished after completing smaller tasks and tremendously decreases my stress level once I’ve completed the project.
Schedule If possible, I’ll schedule more time than necessary to complete each task. Once I complete a smaller task, I’ll cross it off my list and start the next one. Usually, because I’ve overestimated the amount of time each task will take, I’ll have some wiggle room. That way, if something comes up, I don’t feel immense pressure to rush to get the assignment done.
I suffer from intense tunnel vision. If there is a project to be done, I will continually work on it until it is finished. So, while I’m scheduling, I add in breaks for meals and rest and make sure to give myself a night off.
Work with Others After I think I’ve completed something, the second set of eyes helps ensure that I am submitting my best work. When looking for partners, I recommend asking someone within your field as well as asking someone outside of it.
The person who has studied similar content will ensure that you are correctly explaining yourself. The person outside of your field should be able to help you with the other content – if they don’t understand what’s going on in your assignment, your work is not clear and probably needs another edit.
Take Responsibility and Hold Yourself Accountable For another person to look at your work, you must have the project finished at least a few days before the due date. Having other people look at your work will keep you accountable and make sure that you’re meeting your goals on time.
Ultimately, this is your assignment. If you don’t give others enough time to look at your work, they may not help you at all. And, if for whatever reason you are not able to meet your deadline, let someone know a respectable time before the work is due so that they can adjust the time table if necessary. If your projects are school related, treat your education like a job, let it prepare you for your future career.
While planning your workload, it is important to remember to take a break. It’s easy to get wrapped up in a project and forget to take care of yourself. And that’s not such a great thing. You are not a machine. Sometimes completing a task on time is not possible.
It’s beneficial to complete assignments on time and get as much work done as often as you possibly can. It allows you to focus on other things and maybe get a decent night’s sleep. It’s just as important to let someone know if you need an extension to take care of yourself.
by Joshua "Stressed but Well Dressed" Wayman, Fiction team member
Well, the title to this piece is a bit of a misnomer. Contrary to what plenty of people might tell you, there is no way to teach somebody how to write – at least not in the way that anything else is conventionally taught.
There are, of course, classes you can take, and these are classes I have been apart of on more than one occasion. They are immensely helpful, but they do not teach you how to write in the core sense of the idea, nor do they teach you the habits and disciplines you should employ while writing. This is not to disparage these classes – they were invaluable in my growth as a writer and I am immensely grateful to the professors who taught these classes. What they will do is provide you with an environment where you’re able to experiment, offer you criticism and teach you how to take it gracefully, and they will open you up to new perspectives. That being said, if you enter one of these classes without any capacity to write whatsoever, it is nigh impossible that you will leave suddenly able to write well.
There are also plenty of “How To Write” lists and tips that have been generated by prolific writers throughout the years. There’s Jack Kerouac’s famous “30 Tips on Writing” that hung on Allen Ginsberg’s wall as he wrote “Howl” (my favorite one from that is “Accept loss forever.”) There’s Vonnegut’s list, there’s Hemingway’s, Faulkner offers advice in interviews, and there’s even one from the notorious ad-man David Ogilvy that was circulated as a memo to all employees (“Wooly people write wooly memos.”) All of these, and more, are hanging on my bedroom wall, but they aren’t there to provide instruction. They’re there to provide perspective.
Some, even most of these lists have conflicting suggestions. Hemingway wrote “write drunk; edit sober” and Faulkner said that all he needs to write is some tobacco and scotch, but Fitzgerald said that only a short story could be written on a bottle, and that a novel requires absolute sober focus. Some of these writers encouraged us to use real life experiences as our inspiration, whereas others found it best to invent our stories and characters out of thin air, products of pure imagination.
Trying to follow these instructions verbatim is a recipe for disaster, and so is taking anybody at their literal world for how to write. Much in the way I might stand up and take a break from writing to stare out my window, I’ll walk across my room to these typed-up lists and excerpts from interviews for a similar reason – to get out of my own head.
What I’m trying to say here is that you cannot learn how to write, how to truly encapsulate that spark – the one that it takes to make any writing worthwhile – from the mouth or pen of anybody else. However you write is however you write. Whether you prefer to work early in the morning or late at night, all at once or spaced out over years (one of Gore Vidal’s novels took decades to finish, and he took multi-year breaks in between), or whether you want to use people you’ve met (or even yourself) as inspiration is entirely up to you. You will save yourself a lot of anguish the sooner you stop looking for somebody to tell you the correct way to do what only you can do. There is no right way to write and there is no wrong way to write, that is, except to never write at all.
by Claire "The Bee's Knees" Hunt, Creative Nonfiction team and marketing team member
I don’t pretend to know why we all write – mostly because I’m not even sure why I write. It’s just something I’ve felt drawn to doing since I was a kid and it’s something I feel like I need to do.
I will, however, pretend to know why we all publish (or try to): writing is putting your most difficult thoughts and emotions (or, possibly, someone else’s thoughts and feelings) into words and, once we have done it, we want other people to experience it.
I got my first (and only) piece published last year in the Grub Street Literary Journal – a poem I wrote for an advanced poetry class called “Elegy for a Lost Doll.” It was a poem that, like everything I write, began as something completely different from what it became. This acceptance came under the condition that I omit my last stanza, which the editor felt was telling too much. This acceptance letter came after several rejections but, when it was accepted, those rejections didn’t matter. Having just that one piece accepted meant that I was doing my job as a writer: transcending my own thoughts, feelings, and experiences onto a page, in a way that others identify with.
At least, that’s what acceptance meant to me at the time.
This year, I worked on the Creative Non-Fiction team for Grub Street, where we were responsible for reading about 200 submitted pieces – we accepted seven. Sure, some pieces were accepted immediately and some were rejected immediately, but, the majority of the time, there was significant debate and discussion. One of the pieces we accepted, was given a “soft no” by the previous team, but a “hard yes” by our team. Several class periods were spent debating pieces that were good, but did not necessarily suit the needs of our journal. We spent weeks debating a story about eating chicken. There were pieces that, like my own, were only accepted because someone made a case for a simple edit that could be made to strengthen the piece.
Having worked on the Grub Street staff this year, I have learned that rejection actually means very little – in fact, if it means anything, it means you should keep working and submitting your work for publication.
Working on a literary journal has changed my understanding of “rejection.” Rejection does not mean that your writing is poor or that your piece should be disregarded; nor does rejection mean that no one liked your piece or felt that it held value. Instead, rejection might mean that you need to restructure your piece, rethink certain plot points, reconsider what is essential and what is not. Rejection should urge you to keep going – rejection should fuel you to rethink and revise your piece and send it elsewhere. As writers, as college students, or simply as people, we are going to face rejection everywhere – take pride in your rejections, because, chances are, it means you are that much closer to acceptance.
The mere act of feeling a piece that you have worked on is ready for publication is rewarding in and of itself. Keep writing, keep submitting, and keep embracing rejection, knowing that acceptance is on its way.
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.