A Sanctuary for Growth

Most recently I was commissioned to create work that surrounded an exhibition presented at the Cummer Museum here in Jacksonville, as a part of the closing ceremony for the exhibit. I believe that Elan gave me the confidence and the courage to take advantage of the opportunity and let it stretch me as an artist. To not be afraid to admit I have things to say. To demand to be heard. I think one of the faults of being a writer, especially a student writer, is that when it comes to creating, we move through the world with our heads down; we forget that our work matters to people outside of ourselves. Elan asks the exact opposite of that from its staff members. As the Marketing Editor, I have had so many wonderful opportunities to be an active part of the Jacksonville arts and literary community. Sitting in a small room, such as the one I sat in during Jax Lit 3, and having a conversation about why art is important with people who see me as an artist is not an opportunity many people get to be a part of. I remember someone saying something like, “If one person is passionate about something, it will last, and if you are lucky enough to be surrounded by just a few others who are as passionate, anything is possible.” I feel as if, when it comes to the written word, I am always that passionate person. So Elan has given me the skills to take that passion and craft it into success. Every time I sit in one of those rooms I am shocked back into the root of why I continue to write. I am reminded that I am a creator, a maker. It’s who I am.

Through Elan, I’ve been asked to be present in the moment, to feed those connections and relationships with other artists, and to always consider what matters to me in my own life. After being on the Elan staff for almost two whole years, I’ve come to realize I’m skilled beyond just my writing. That’s something that I used to be insecure about because I would look around a room at so many people who had so many skills, and I felt they could better apply to the “real world” and the ideals that are pressed upon society in day to day life. And there I was, someone who was good at telling stories. But I’ve sat in so many rooms with so many talented and successful people, now, who are doing the same things I’m doing that I could never possibly believe, again, that my skills don’t matter or add up to anything.

Moving forward, I plan to continue immersing myself in the world of the written word and pursuing an MFA in poetry. With Tiffany Melanson as the Staff Advisor, I’ve been encouraged to understand myself and my work outside of the confines of school walls. I think without Elan I would have never had the chance to see myself, really take a step-back and look at myself. Elan has been my sanctuary for growth.

Lex Hamilton, Senior Marketing/Public Relations Editor

Growing as a Writer and a Person

winnie            I think there came a point in my time at Douglas Anderson where I began to question a lot who I was. Part of it was the typical teenage questioning of trying to find out who I was and who I was becoming and who I wanted to become, but the other part of me was questioning who I was as a writer and what it meant to be a writer and if I was even valid in calling myself a writer. It is hard to imagine being able to claim a part of your identity when you are on the cups of everything changing in your life.

            Coming into Elan I couldn’t imagine begin a part of something as solidifying as being a part of a literary magazine. It was like a token to me being able to say I am a writer. Maybe if I was a part of something bigger than I could truly be able to call myself a writer and not feel guilty about it.

            There was an odd sense of guilt because I felt that since I had trouble being even to claim the writer part of myself. How could I be a part of something that other writers go to?

            As I went through my first year on the staff, I had to adjust. I had to adjust to being able to call myself a writer because that is what I am. It will always be a part of me in some way, shape, or form. There is no way for me to try and hide that aspect of myself and I have tried. I through myself into Calculus class and physics and swore that I was never going to study writing ever again. It was denial in its purest form.

            I am afraid of losing the part of me that found solace in writing when I go to college. Elan allowed me to feel the power that my own words can have and the power that other people’s words also have. I had forgotten the weigh that words hold.

            I want to be able to carry with me the need to spread the love for writing that manifested itself in me through my time spent on the Elan staff. I think that’s what I want to give my junior, too. As managing editor, I spend an ample amount of time reaching out to other schools and students to encourage people to submit to Elan. It is tedious, but I enjoy sending out the emails because receiving an email from someone in China submitting to our literary magazine. It sounds horribly stupid that sending emails can be something that I enjoy, but I am also the person that says she enjoys math and will rant about derivatives when given the chance.

            It has been difficult for me to call myself a writer because there is so much I don’t know about myself and am still learning about myself. I thought that all I could be was only a writer and nothing else because of the way I see the world in such black and white terms. I didn’t realize that I can be a writer and someone who majors in math and someone who enjoys sending emails.

Winnie Blay, Senior Managing Editor

A Ghost Room

This piece, for me specifically reminds me of how much of a mess things can be, but still have beauty in it. There are so many object places on desk, the floor, and the sides, and for some reason I find comfort to that. The picture in general, seeps creativity. There is no emotion to evoke in the art because that’s not the point that it’s trying to prove. The point is that it’s trying to show the life of an art student. As I was looking through the book, there were so many pieces that we great don’t get me wrong; however, the fact that there was so much going on in the piece, it was also in black and white. It could’ve been colorful, which would have made every object illuminate more, but it wasn’t. And that’s what is so great about it. I always find myself attracted to blank things in general, because I know there is more to it. I also picture life as in that way, so I think that’s why is resonates so much for me. This desk has paintbrushes, paintings, books, paint, etc. Instead of it being an organized desk, no, no it’s an art student’s desk. That leads to how it represents Élan. As a writer, I myself like to messy, but only because it sparks for something for me. If everything was so clean and cut, you do not have a lot to work with it. That’s how Élan is. Élan works with the strangest writing pieces and art pieces, and that’s what makes us so unique. The community grows off of creativity

Elma Dedic, Co-Marketing/Social Media Editor