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

From Poems about Whales to Now

maddie-oct-nov-picture When trying to learn about the earliest civilizations, archeologists look to cave paintings as clues to what humans used to be like and how we have evolved. If you think about it, all of the writing in the world creates an entire body of work that represents our society’s evolution of thoughts, feelings, inventions, politics, culture, etc. I think a writer’s work from the time they are a child often does the same.
The earliest poem I have a memory of goes like this, “I love whales painting there nails. They look so nice in there long tails. They are so younge they don’t like mails. And they love good sales.” Note the spelling of “there”, younge”, and “mails”. The second memory I have of writing was a narrative story in fourth grade about my dog Keiser that died when I was four. It was a very vivid moment for a young girl and it made its way into my writing a lot. There are obvious advancements in my writing like spelling, phrasing, diction, syntax, and imagery, but aside from that I don’t think the topics of my writing have changed a whole lot.
In my fiction, my pieces stem from my own life and personal truths that I need to explore through fiction in order to process and make sense of on my own. I still really enjoy writing things like creative non-fiction, so my piece about my dog Keiser isn’t that far off from something I would write now. It would be a lot more subtly tied to my life and it would of course be more descriptive and have more of an emotional arc and message, but the root would still be that it’s a story about my life that changed me in some way that I needed to express through my love of words. Death is something I often explore in my work. Religion and dealing with death and how those connect are something I struggle with processing and making sense of and writing it out through other characters is sometimes the easiest way to deal with it.
I recently wrote a fiction piece loosely tied to my extended family and all the issues we seem to have with each other. When first writing out the piece, I remained angry at that side of my family that was causing all this drama and didn’t feel the need to work to forgive them, but through the course of revising the piece, I grew to understand the characters I created as individual human beings that had made mistakes and were worthy of small acts of forgiveness. I didn’t have to let them in completely, but I could open myself up in slight amounts.
My poetry is also almost always rooted in my personal experiences. While I have no encounters with whales that I can truthfully write about, nature is something I often incorporate into my poetry. One of my favorite pieces I’ve written was a coming of age poem centered on how my family and I used to spend our free time going to the beach and hunting for sharks’ teeth.

If you were to line up all of my work from the time I was a child, you would see an illustration of my life up to this point. You would see my initial love of nature, particularly whales, then my first encounters with death, dealing with family issues, coming of age, and they will continue to follow my life from the big moments, like grieving, to the small moments, like just finding beauty in a creature. As a senior, I am moving towards college and deciding my future. I want to be a pediatric physical therapist and I only hope my writing will be able to follow me and illustrate the next stages of my life.

-Madison Dorsey, Community Engagement

Winter 2015 Online Edition

Winter Cover 2015Winter represents to us the traditions we love and the beginnings we create. This year, we welcomed an almost entirely new staff, and learned as much as they did in the process of making the first book. We built from the framework that was laid previously, and are proud to represent the publication in its 30th year.

At this point last year, I was terrified of this position: responsible for every part and piece coming together by deadline.  I was confident in my ability to contribute, but not to run the show.  Teaching a completely new group of staff members made the task more daunting. In reality, the situation was ideal and allowed for us to take the publication in any direction we wanted. I allowed myself to be comfortable with all aspects of growth, including starting from the ground.

I’m proud of what each member of Élan accomplished this go-round, and honored to have the opportunity to watch their growth, as well as the magazine’s.

-Jordan Jacob, Senior Editor-in-Chief