My experience on the staff of Elan Literary Magazine has helped expand my perception of what it means to be a writer. For a long time, I viewed writing as a solitary endeavor, something I did for myself and myself alone. And while I’m grateful for the impact writing has had on me as an individual, I’ve grown to love the art form even more as I’ve become a member of the literary community here in Jacksonville. Through this class, although it’s certainly more than just a class, I’ve been able to interact with some amazing people and share with them how much writing and Elan mean to me.
As a young writer, I am so grateful to Elan for giving me a chance to share my voice. I’ve been able to speak about things through my writing which I can’t imagine discussing outright, and Elan has given me the power to put those thoughts out into the world. Last month, a girl I’ve met in passing told me she read my poem, Oil/Water, in the fall edition of our book. She said the poem really resonated with her and her experiences. In that moment, I completely understood what writers mean when they say all of the drafting and struggling would be worth it if just one reader identified with their work. This interaction meant a lot to me personally because I often feel like my writing exists in a vacuum, read only by my teachers and my mother. To see my work impacting other people was an incredible feeling, and Elan made this possible.
An experience this year that’s been especially rewarding was volunteering at Elan’s booth during Color Me Kona, a community event full of local artists and vendors. The crowd at Kona was a little bit different from our usual crowd for galleries or readings because the setting of the skate park attracted a variety of people, which made it an even more valuable experience to me. We had many people —some who love writing and some who haven’t read a book in a year— approach our booth and listen to us speak about our publication. Being a part of that event made me realize how important art is to everyone, no matter how old they are or where they come from.
As I move on to the next stage in my life, I know that I will take many skills, experiences, and ideas from my time on the staff of Elan. Beyond the technical skills I’ve learned, like how to perform a blind reads process and format books in InDesign, I’ve learned a multitude of interpersonal skills. As a staff, we take on a lot of responsibilities, and it’s sometimes a challenge trying to get everything organized and carry out a successful outreach event while simultaneously trying to publish an edition of a literary magazine. Elan has taught me, however, rewarding all of the hard work is in the end.
– Meredith Abdelnour, Senior Layout and Design Editor