Being on a literary staff has proven to me over and over again how my body physically needs, desires, and uses writing. This magazine has displayed more of my insides and what I believe in more than anyone will ever realize. My opinions, my thoughts, even my own writing it in the thick margins of our books and posts. Every event I have helped plan and carry out are more than just rewarding for the grade in the class because when I walk away from a reading or marketing booth, I know that I’m leaving a part of me for the rest of the world to enjoy. The Élan Literary Magazine has even changed how I carry myself, because before this year I didn’t see myself as a writer or poet or artist. Before I truly started being involved in all the activities and social events Élan has done this year and engaging consistently in our community, I couldn’t put myself in any category. But as my life moves forward, I now know I have a welcoming, warm place in the literary world. Outside of the classroom, outside of Jacksonville, I feel like I’m a real member and admirer of literary art.
So far this year, my participation and involvement in all of our community events has skyrocketed. Events like Color Me Kona and Jax Book Fest have been platforms for local artists, young and old, to get out there in the community and get their work out there! There is so much more to writing than sitting in a room with my laptop open! There are people out there who care, who want to talk to you about it, and who admire any writers’ attempts at making art. Color Me Kona was one of the first events of the year that made everyone’s eyes on the staff open to how much potential and importance community events hold. When the Jax Book Fest came around this year, a chance for the staff and our fellow published writers to get their work spoken aloud in a microphone with a room full of people, it was all the more important and beautiful to experience. The clichés are true – we all need art to keep moving forward.
As a writer, I take my own work more seriously. And I know this seems like a weird, funny thing to say, considering the title of this essay, but I truly realized that my work speaks to people other than myself. People appreciate art in all its level, but I think sometimes we forget to appreciate our own work for what it is. Being able to see my art in a new light, it has made me grow as a humbler person. Now as a senior, I know my time on the staff is quickly coming to an end but as it does I have grown to understand more about myself as a leader and partner when it comes to these organizations. Without everyone on the staff, half the things we’ve achieved would have been impossible – that alone gives me comfort knowing that I was a part of something as wonderful and inspiring as Élan.
– Valerie Busto, Senior Fiction/CNF Editor