The Power of Élan 

This year’s fall edition of Élan is something that I’m really proud of. This was my first time being a part of the editorial process as the senior Fiction/CNF editor and it was a really cool experience to play a big part in what pieces go into the book. Reading all the pieces that had been submitted and looking at the art was so interesting, as it always is. I think each piece is truly special in its own way, and each one impacted me differently. Two pieces that inspire me a lot are the CNF piece “Jew-ish” by Jake Shafran and the art piece The Whore, The Gunslinger, and the Guy Who Wrote Their Scripts by Nur Chodry. Both of these pieces stuck out to me in the editorial process and I am so happy that they are in the book.

I’m going to start off by talking about the piece, “Jew-ish.” Before I even begin talking about the piece itself, I want to talk about CNF. In my first year of Élan, the genre team made it a goal to include more CNF in the book. CNF is such a powerful form of writing and every reads process I am excited to see the CNF pieces that are submitted. This year, I had the same goal, and when I came across this piece I was immediately impacted. Writing CNF is so vulnerable in itself, and submitting it for other people to read is as well. “Jew-ish” is a very personal piece and I think most people can relate to it, even if they aren’t in that exact situation.

The piece deals with feeling lost about what religion you belong to. It deals with those strong feelings of confusion, and I think most people can connect with this feeling. The reader gets to read this story about a young boy dealing with feelings. The reader feels close to the speaker, and it allows us to really be present in the pieces. We get to see him when he feels united with others and when he feels separate from them. It’s a powerful message and one that I connected to immediately, and I think the readers of Élan will connect to as well.

Selecting the art for Élan is just as fun as selecting the writing. I’m always excited to see what people have submitted, and one piece that stuck out to me immediately was The Whore, The Gunslinger, and the Guy Who Wrote Their Scripts by Nur Chodry. Before I truly looked at the piece, the name of it grabbed my attention. I think the title in itself tells a story, and that’s important for something like Élan. We want the art to tell a story just as much as the writing.

The piece of art itself is so interesting to me. The girl in the front grabs your attention first, and I think the way that her body has been painted is really beautiful. Once you see her, you then focus on the person behind her and how he’s looking slyly at her. It almost seems like she doesn’t notice either, by the way her eyes are looking up. The man behind her had a halo and she has wings, so that provides a aspect of heaven as well.

As I said before, I’m really proud of this edition of Élan. I think the pieces that have been selected, both art and writing, are powerful in their own right. Each one has something special about them and I think the readers of Élan will be pleased with the writing and art coming their way.

Anna Howse, Senior Fiction/CNF Editor