Lessons for What’s Next

It’s strange to be writing my final blog post for this staff. Since I started them as a junior, being a part of Elan Literary Magazine has taught me an unbelievable amount about what it means to be a writer, a leader, even to be an independent person – lessons I’ll keep with me in my next stage of life, in college. Being part of Elan has been a part of my growing up. I stepped onto the staff not sure what my role was going to be, pretty doubtful it would include something so full of responsibility and challenges. However, listening to the senior staff members at the time caught my attention. I wanted to find something new, something that would test me in new ways. High school was, I’m sad to say, getting a bit boring. I was tired of moving from class to class, only picking up the information I needed for the next round of testing, before moving on to something else. I wanted to learn what it would be like to dedicate my time and energy entirely to a single goal, and watch it pay off to something much larger than a test.

Being part of this staff has, in fact, been challenging in more ways than I could have anticipated. Learning how to be an editor is learning how to make snap decisions, but also build up a great deal of tiny details over long periods of time. It’s coordinating a large group of people, but also honing in on your own judgement, and learning to trust your decisions to lead the staff forward. Creating the 2017 Print Book was a crucial moment for me. The senior staff members were on their way out, and it became overwhelmingly clear that I was about to become the head of this process. There was so much that needed to get done, a whole slew of tiny, tiny details. We had totally unforeseen challenges, and I had to adapt, come up with creative solutions by discussing our situations with the faculty advisor and other staff members.

In the end, when we had the 2017 Print Issue in our hands, I realized why I had been putting so much work into the magazine. I got to hold this tangible collection of young voices, all creating and trying to comprehend the world around them. It felt like every art piece and every writing piece were in a collaboration, part of a larger whole which could express how student artists and writers were navigating themselves in a world that was rapidly changing between 2016-2017. It was one of Elan’s most political issues, and by curating these pieces, I realized how much even students had the power to express injustice and a need for change. How crucial it us for us to speak our minds, because, in doing so, real drive for change results.

In my own future, as I head to college, in a position to conduct research in the STEM fields, I’m carrying these lessons about art into the broader perspectives. Because being part of Elan is not just about reading and writing. It’s about setting the framework for a better world, a world we want to see: where everyone has a voice, and everyone is empowered to search for themselves. Being an editor allowed me to work with these future goals, these young agents for change, and it’s taught me how much I need to keep working for a better world, whether in a lab or selecting writing to publish, and trying to reach the biggest community possible.

Ana Shaw, Editor-In-Chief