Lessons for What’s Next

It’s strange to be writing my final blog post for this staff. Since I started them as a junior, being a part of Elan Literary Magazine has taught me an unbelievable amount about what it means to be a writer, a leader, even to be an independent person – lessons I’ll keep with me in my next stage of life, in college. Being part of Elan has been a part of my growing up. I stepped onto the staff not sure what my role was going to be, pretty doubtful it would include something so full of responsibility and challenges. However, listening to the senior staff members at the time caught my attention. I wanted to find something new, something that would test me in new ways. High school was, I’m sad to say, getting a bit boring. I was tired of moving from class to class, only picking up the information I needed for the next round of testing, before moving on to something else. I wanted to learn what it would be like to dedicate my time and energy entirely to a single goal, and watch it pay off to something much larger than a test.

Being part of this staff has, in fact, been challenging in more ways than I could have anticipated. Learning how to be an editor is learning how to make snap decisions, but also build up a great deal of tiny details over long periods of time. It’s coordinating a large group of people, but also honing in on your own judgement, and learning to trust your decisions to lead the staff forward. Creating the 2017 Print Book was a crucial moment for me. The senior staff members were on their way out, and it became overwhelmingly clear that I was about to become the head of this process. There was so much that needed to get done, a whole slew of tiny, tiny details. We had totally unforeseen challenges, and I had to adapt, come up with creative solutions by discussing our situations with the faculty advisor and other staff members.

In the end, when we had the 2017 Print Issue in our hands, I realized why I had been putting so much work into the magazine. I got to hold this tangible collection of young voices, all creating and trying to comprehend the world around them. It felt like every art piece and every writing piece were in a collaboration, part of a larger whole which could express how student artists and writers were navigating themselves in a world that was rapidly changing between 2016-2017. It was one of Elan’s most political issues, and by curating these pieces, I realized how much even students had the power to express injustice and a need for change. How crucial it us for us to speak our minds, because, in doing so, real drive for change results.

In my own future, as I head to college, in a position to conduct research in the STEM fields, I’m carrying these lessons about art into the broader perspectives. Because being part of Elan is not just about reading and writing. It’s about setting the framework for a better world, a world we want to see: where everyone has a voice, and everyone is empowered to search for themselves. Being an editor allowed me to work with these future goals, these young agents for change, and it’s taught me how much I need to keep working for a better world, whether in a lab or selecting writing to publish, and trying to reach the biggest community possible.

Ana Shaw, Editor-In-Chief

Beware

Kiara Blog Post PictureShifting into this awkward phase where I’m beginning to think about adult things like constantly being aware of money, yet I still laugh about the scribbling in the bathroom stalls is torture. I mean, that sounds really angsty, but it really is. I’m really disappointed nobody told me that all those high school movies are completely inaccurate, like me looking twenty seven at sixteen and definitely having my license by now (I don’t even have my permit).

It’s reassuring as all my peers are going through the same thing too, the constant emails from all these colleges and the mail from universities I’ll never be able to even imagine paying for. Then there’s the part where I get to laugh with them about dorm life and dating all over campus and no parents!

And then sometimes there’s those moments where I can’t help but feel absolutely alone when I’m looking at SAT and ACT registrations and when I’m wishing that my PSAT score was a little higher to offer some form of reconciliation. Mom of course says it’s natural to have these fears and I’ll get through it but constantly drowning (or more so flailing in open waters). Sometimes a boat will come by, offer help, and sometimes I’m an idiot and say no, and watch the boat fly off across the sea into the horizon. Sometimes boats ignore me, and then every now and again a boat stops and I’m not stupid and climb on.

It’s strange planning campus tour dates and taking virtual tours of dorms, trying to decide the rest of my life. I know all adults are like: you still have time, but cut the crap, we really don’t. It’s like, college is probably going to be some of the best moments of my life, but if I mess it up, then it’s a huge blight looming over my life and you can’t get re-dos, just, I’ll try to clean up the mess.

I’m just hoping I’ll get some awesome scholarships, and maybe a school will really want me to come to their school and debt won’t be a problem. I just want to get a job I love and pays amazing, but doesn’t everyone want that? Well, some people don’t but most people want that, and it’s in the form of that false American Dream or whatever people want to call it. But maybe, this end to my childhood, isn’t the end of me.

-Kiara Ivey, Junior Layout & Design Editor

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