January air is brisk, chilly, but full of promise. Maybe it’s the prospect of a new year, and subsequent ‘new year, new me’ mentality, but I’ve noticed that my to-do list has been growing longer with more and more goals. It is this air itself that I felt during the Hart House Literary Fair on Thursday.
As the Editor-in-Chief of the UC Review, a campus publication, I was invited to table at the fair and promote our literary journal. After setting down all our materials (past journals, Bristol board, mailing list), I, along with many other campus publications, waited for students to filter in. Initially students trickled into the room slowly, a little hesitant, but soon there was a constant buzz of conversation and an active stream of movement throughout the room. At a surface level, people asked about submission deadlines, about journal info, about what buttons, books, or flyers were free, and finally, about if their work is what we’re looking for. Coupled with these questions were underlying notes of confidence, albeit shaky, but confidence all the same.
While my observations might seem like a bit of a stretch, there’s something pretty inspiring about seeing nervous, uncertain students take that first step in the submissions process, that is, speaking with editors and asking if their work is good enough for consideration. As an editor, seeing people open up their own personal creative work for evaluation or taking the initiative to meet a campus publication group face-to-face can be incredibly daunting, not to mention intimidating. While I can’t speak for every editor, I can say that for many of us, this is very impressive. It is impressive how despite not knowing what might happen, you take that first step anyway.
When I was in grade 11, I submitted a short story to the Toronto Star. My handiwork was not polished, it was riddled with errors, and the number of plotholes in the story were too many to count. However, I remember the editor replying to my submission informing me my piece was rejected, but also offering ways I could improve and do better. That contact the Toronto Star editor made with me is something that I’ll never forget.
If you like to create, whether that be through writing stories, poetry, painting, photography, sketching, music, and so much more, I highly encourage you to reach out to a campus publication, ask questions, and submit work. You have nothing to lose. You might have to deal with a little bit of shaky uncertainty or doubt, but these are necessary in order to improve and learn how to respond to constructive criticism. There are so many campus publications on campus – the Hart House Review, the Spectatorial, Goose, Inkblot, Demo Music Magazine, the Gargoyle – just to name a few.
January air is brisk, chilly, but full of promise. It’s a challenge to us, asking if we’re ready to step out of our comfort zones and try something that might be a little scary, but will only benefit us in the end. I’m already starting this. Are you?