The Next Chapter

This is my first year on the Élan staff, and I have a confession: when I first came to DA, I had no idea what Élan was. When I cracked the spine on my first copy of Élan, I remember only flipping through to a few of the pieces. I would later comb through the book cover to cover to look at each excerpt, poem, or art piece, but when I first opened the book, I didn’t really know what the significance of it was. In all honesty, I had never been exposed to literary magazines before DA, much less submitted to one.

As I became immersed in the culture of DA, surrounded by likeminded writers, I gradually learned what an honor it was to have one’s work selected for a literary magazine. It took me a few months to fully digest my first issue of Élan. The next issue took me a few weeks. The most recent issue, I consumed in a few days. Each time I flipped the page, I was transported to a new emotional landscape, a new world of grief and supreme joy, love and heartbreak, ideas familiar and alien.

I submitted my own work, and was thrilled to receive confirmation. I had never considered my pieces as worth being shared with the world, and Élan showed me that all those hours looking at a blank word document was worth it.

I wanted to learn how the book was made. More than that, I wanted to watch it happen. I wanted to see everything that went into it: the students who submitted to it, the students who fastened it together, the art that bound it all together. If possible, I even wanted to see the paper being inked and printed, the cover being laminated, the pages being stitched into a perfect-bound book the size of a lunchbox.

As junior year came around and I was given the opportunity to be involved in creating the book, I knew I wanted in.

This year, I am so happy to be the junior managing editor of Élan. I’ll be in the thick of it all, my fingers in many pies, so to speak. I can’t say I’m not a little intimidated. With the fear, however, comes a bubbly excitement. I want to leave my mark on Élan. I want to bring new voices from around the world to the page, voices that might not have any other outlet. I know I can’t do this alone, which is why I am similarly excited to be on a team of individuals with immense creative and organizational power.

Even so early into my role, I can feel that the state of the book is not the only thing that will change this year. I’m more than a little out of my element; frankly, I’ve never taken a leadership position of such scale before. I don’t see myself as a leader, but I’m willing to rise to the challenge. I am ready to oil the machine, to get dirty, to learn. Going into this year, I was not the same person as I was sophomore year, and the image of myself as a freshman awkwardly sitting at the corner of the class is unrecognizable. This experience will force me to grow as a writer, as a student, and most of all, as a person. I’m ready.

Noland Blain, Junior Managing Editor