Community Through Writing

Logan Blog Post PictureI will never forget the day I was accepted into Douglas Anderson as a freshman, a fresh teenager, a creative writer. I expected to learn about imagery or symbolism or whatever colleges were looking for at that point, but didn’t anticipate how important a community can be towards honing my writing skills. The experience that I have gained as a result is nothing short of invaluable.

Class activities were surrounded by group critiques and group discussions. When my submission was accepted into Élan, I was offered a glimpse into the inner workings of the magazine, and the staff who critiqued my piece to help it get to the place it needed to be. I saw a force that was indestructible: teamwork at its finest. This, I thought. This is what I want to have.

And so the years have offered me such as I have wanted. If I need help with a piece due the next morning, I can text a classmate and they will offer me points for revision. If I need help with a piece I have written on my own time, I come to the same group. And, with my entry into the Élan staff, I have found the community of editors to be all I desired and more. There is always help offered, and there is always a person at your side who understands.

It is a horrible feeling, to think of a future where I do not have the connections I possess now in terms of accessing writers who can help me further my work, and vice versa. Consulting writers is the foundation of how I write; I need unbiased judgement on the pieces I’ve drafted five times. I need fresh eyes on the pieces I don’t know how to finish. Community has changed the ways I write for the better; community is essential to writing. After all, how would Élan have begun if not for such a strong foundation of writers?

-Logan Monds, Junior Social Media & Marketing Editor

On Writing Beginnings

window-flower-plant-notebook-diary-notepad-pen-reflection-light-dayAs a writer, a new year can mean finally writing that idea that has been swirling around in your head for a while or taking a closer look at the conventions you put into your pieces. Since January is the first month of the year, why not start working at the beginning on beginnings?

The beginning of a story or a poem needs to hook the reader- but not like the hooks taught in elementary school English class. How you start a piece conveys everything about where the piece will or can go. In my work, I strive to make my openings memorable, and looking at what other writers have started with can be the most helpful thing. In Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen the prologue opens with the image of three people standing under a greasy awning. This image sets the tone for the lifestyle and events that are to come for the main character. It is probably one of the most common ways I and other writers start but it’s a strikingly simple mix of images. But some stories call for a more drastic opening. Albert Camus opens his novel the Stranger with the simple sentence “Maman died today.” This immediately grabs the readers’ attention. Who doesn’t want to suck a reader in with only three words? Sometimes the beginning of a piece of writing makes you stop and process a new outlook. My favorite poet, Jack Gilbert, starts his poem Falling and Flying with the line “Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.” It makes you look at the age old story of Icarus in a new light and before shipping you off into his insightful poem.

With 2015 just beginning, why not stop and think about the beginning and maybe even put a more interesting spin to it.

-Chrissy Thelemann, Submissions Editor