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Reflections and Alternative Perspectives

This week, I got the chance to defend my thesis in a presentation for my adviser and committee member. This was a fascinating and enlightening opportunity for me, and I’m glad I was able to present my work in front of a captive audience. In my final blog post here, I also have the chance to reflect on my experience both with my internship and with this thesis overall. In my previous post, I synthesized what I’ve learned throughout the semester and the most important and widespread observations I made at the Greyrock Review so far.

In this final blog post, I’m going to incorporate some of the feedback my thesis committee gave me following my presentation. They encouraged me to take some time to reflect on the opportunities and tools the project has provided me with for my future after I graduate and leave the world of academics.

A committee member asked me why I chose to use a blog/website format for this project instead of a traditional research paper-style thesis, and why I wanted to incorporate multimedia aspects, like a video blog. I wanted the opportunity to supplement my experience with print media at Greyrock (a completely print literary magazine) with some different forms of online content. I’m excited that this thesis project will be useful beyond the university setting because I can show this website to future employers as part of my professional writing and media portfolio. The skills I’ve learned through the creation of this website — video blogging, interviewing, blogging, profiles, double-entry field notes, and more — can serve as a demonstration of my ability to work with traditional forms of media and adapt to new forms of technology in today’s ever-changing media landscape.

At my presentation, my adviser also asked me what I would do differently if I could redo this project or if I had more time to continue observing this team of interns. I think that when I’m making ethnographic observations in the future, I will take demographics into consideration more seriously — gender, race, age, etc. — which I didn’t have much time to work into my field research in such a short span of time (less than one semester). In addition, if I had more time to work on this thesis, I would take more time to incorporate double-entry field notes into my meetings with the team and my overall research tactics. I would also get more direct quotes from other interns about their experiences throughout the semester if I could do this project over again.

I genuinely appreciate the things I’ve learned during this experience — both at my internship and while creating this thesis throughout the semester. I’ve had the opportunity to learn leadership skills through my position as the managing editor of the Greyrock Review, communication skills by working with both fellow interns and writers/contributors, media skills by creating this multimedia blog site, and collaboration experience by getting and giving feedback to a team of advisers and committee members. This Honors thesis project has given me the chance to think differently and more deeply about my impact and experiences at my publishing internship, and how I can learn more and use this education for my future career in publishing.

In addition, I got the chance this week to take a step back and get a different view of this experience through testimonials from other Greyrock team members. I gave several of my fellow interns the opportunity to read some of my blog posts — especially my most recent post synthesizing my experience of the semester. I also interviewed my team members, asking three deliberate questions. The first question was: What has been the most valuable thing you’ve learned so far in this internship? Our poetry editor, Geneva, said, “I think the practical applications of the day-to-day running of a journal are quite invaluable in preparing and investigating a career in publishing, especially as English degrees are elusive in terms of securing a position in the ‘real world’ for some.” Our associate fiction editor, Eileen, then told me, “I feel like teamwork is something that can be found in a myriad of extracurricular activities and internships, but Greyrock has taken what I know about teamwork and caused it to evolve into something more involved and professional. I find myself observing the way we work through things like layout, design, fundraising, promotions, and even the act of writing and copyediting, and I see open-minded discussion, well-articulated reasoning, and an honest commitment to creating our magazine.”

I then asked: What makes Greyrock unique as a literary journal? Our associate nonfiction editor, Bergen, replied, “The fact that Greyrock publishes undergrads is so great! I actually got my own work published in it last year, and being able to say I’ve been officially published in a literary magazine is such a big step towards making a splash in the literary world. It’s a perfect outlet for the niche of CSU undergrads and the perfect stepping-stone to being published in more and more places.” Eileen agreed and mentioned, “I think our focus on undergraduate work as well as our ever-changing ‘aesthetic’ are what make us unique as a literary journal. Because the Greyrock team has the chance to remake the journal every year, it gives us the opportunity to envision new voices and new representations, and because we focus on undergrads as our contributors, it gives writers a voice and a beginning in a very competitive industry.”

Finally, I asked them: How do you see the publishing industry changing/evolving over the next five to 10 years? Our fiction editor, Ashlyn, mentioned, “I think the publishing industry is still moving towards more ebooks and electronic formats in terms of production (though I think we’re still pretty far away from going mostly digital), and in terms of content I think independent publishing houses are growing in influence because they are putting out material that challenge social norms, deeply rooted ideas, etc. and really try to focus on what literature is meant to do — change lives.” Then, Geneva said, “The direction of publishing … is difficult to predict, particularly in light of recent changes in a global sense. I’d have perhaps answered this differently if the vision of America were not so divided. I think I might expect a fracturing in artistic endeavors — one that will crystallize in new directions. Perhaps some will be ‘revolutionary,’ perhaps some aimed at healing, and still more that manifest in ways yet unforeseen.”

It was nice to get a different perspective from others involved in this internship and in different positions on this team. My fellow interns echoed many of my own thoughts and observations on Greyrock and publishing internships in general — especially in the way publishing is being pushed to adapt to new technologies and the value of a publishing internship for a future career in publishing. This has been a fantastic experience and I’m excited to continue working with this team to create something truly unique at the Greyrock Review this year.

Wrapping Up the Semester

This semester of working at my Greyrock Review internship has been enlightening and a lot of fun. Since my first day on the job, I’ve taken on my role as managing editor and worked with three separate genre-separated teams (fiction, nonfiction, and poetry), visited the Colorado Review twice, and learned about important topics in the publishing industry such as fundraising, the submission process, Submittable, layout, aesthetics and design, and copyediting. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know my team and learning about the process of creating a literary journal from scratch.

Alongside my journey through this internship has been this thesis project, which has helped me to think more deeply about my involvement and impact at Greyrock and to reflect on the culture of the space I entered at the beginning of the semester. In my research for this thesis, I’ve learned about recording observations, fieldworking, ethnography, and taking double-entry field notes.

Throughout my field research experience at this Greyrock internship, I’ve noticed several themes that indicate the overall culture of this yearly literary journal. My most common observation came from those around me. All of the interns at Greyrock are interested in breaking into the publishing industry after graduation, and I noticed that they have all been eager to learn new things, practice techniques that are commonly used in editing and publishing, and ask good questions about the skills they’ll need to work at another literary journal someday. It seems to me that the culture of Greyrock is a learning environment which interns will use and advisers will provide as a stepping stone for a career in the publishing industry.

I’ve also observed, from comments made by our graduate adviser and faculty adviser, that Greyrock has an aura of newness, space for brand-new ideas, and room for creativity. Everyone involved seems to want to make a very distinct litmag from previous years. This has been enforced by ideas brought up by the current interns, which have come in the form of suggestions for using new technologies, making unique designs, and creating a journal that doesn’t resemble last year’s version of Greyrock. However, many of these ideas have been encouraged without any follow-up from advisers and several have been discouraged in lieu of support for more traditional practices in publishing. For example, we have been discouraged from adding QR codes to the pages of Greyrock, using online content to supplement our print edition of Greyrock, creating a Kickstarter or other crowd-funding operation for fundraising, and copyediting with digital techniques instead of hard copies and colored pencil mark-ups. It seems to me that those who head Greyrock might still be stuck on too many long-established practices that could be adapted to fit today’s fast-growing technological world. While literary journals can certainly still thrive today, I believe that Greyrock Review could benefit from some fresh ideas from our young interns and updates to some antiquated techniques that may not be as relevant today.

I plan to continue suggesting and encouraging new ideas about publishing practices as the managing editor of Greyrock throughout next semester. I’m quite excited to see what the rest of this year holds. Finally putting together our own version of the Greyrock Review will be a true privilege and I know that we’ll make something fantastic! This internship will be invaluable in my quest for a career in the publishing industry after my graduation, and it seems to me that my fellow interns agree.

Copyediting

This week in Greyrock, we learned about copyediting, which is editing for grammar, spelling, punctuation, usage, etc., but not for content. I’m quite familiar with copyediting for AP Style, but in literary magazines, we use the Chicago Manual of Style, which is virtually foreign to me. Thankfully, we have access to the online Chicago Manual through the CSU library, so our task this week is to learn about the intricacies of the manual/style and try out copyediting.

Copyediting is not only checking the grammar in a piece of writing, but it’s also about fact-checking. When we copyedit one of our submissions, we will need to check that the author’s claims about proper noun spellings, movie names, historical dates, the names of certain actors, and more. We’re not looking to change anything and we will only make changes when they are absolutely necessary for accuracy and proper usage. Our graduate adviser, Kristin, told us that “we’re not on our high horse” and we need to respect the creative decisions of authors as often as we can (poets have a little more leeway with their creative language because their rhetorical rules are not quite as rigid as in prose).

We received a pamphlet today (pictured above) with all of the potential mistakes that we might come across and the proper way to mark them on the physical manuscripts. Our graduate adviser mentioned that the mark-ups will be tedious and sometimes annoying to do, but it’s the system that’s been used forever and we need to keep our system uniform.

Here are the things I’ll need for my copyediting exercise this week:

  • The Chicago Manual of Style (online)
  • A dictionary for spelling
  • An erasable colored pencil
  • My mark-up sheet
  • Sticky notes for author queries

Although in the past few weeks, I have been noticing the impetus for change, new technologies, new methods, and fresh ideas at the Greyrock Review internship, this week I observed resistance to all these things, especially from my graduate adviser. This week, during our team meeting, I asked if there was any way we could switch to a digital method of keeping track of copyediting changes, errors, mistakes, and queries. I thought that this would be better for our environmental impact, would make the sharing process more efficient, and would save tons of time (because we wouldn’t have to transfer our markups from paper to the proof — we could just copy and paste). And I’ve noticed many new technologies for digital copyediting in the world of my own freelance editing business, such as the “Track Changes” feature on Microsoft Word.

However, when I asked if we could use a more modern technique like Track Changes during our meeting, I was told by Kristin that we cannot. She said that it has to be on physical paper (a “hard copy”) because “that’s the way it is in the copyediting world.” She mentioned that Track Changes hasn’t really made an appearance in the publishing industry and that we will be using the methods of most copyeditors in this business.

I understand that this is an important skill if we want to make it in the publishing industry someday, but this was a surprising revelation for me because of the air of change and fresh eyes that I’ve observed at Greyrock recently.

An Adaptive Work Environment

This week at Greyrock was quite unique. We spent some time as a whole team, chatting about and deciding exactly what we wanted to create for the design of our final layout this year. The interns got a chance to let a little loose, joke around, and really get into the details about how we want our journal to look.

We got to finally make some truly executive decisions this week. We chose the size of our journal, which will look like a novel but slightly larger; our running head, which will have the author’s name and genre; the format for our page numbers, which will be at the bottom and outside of each page; and our fonts, which will include a sans serif for the headers and a serif for the main text. The interns chose an overall aesthetic: We want a layout that will look professional, simple, and minimalistic without looking sterile or uptight, and I think that our decisions will reflect this vision.

Our process was very democratic, even though not everyone agreed on each decision. We had a hard time coming up with the best shape for the magazine, but we made sure to take a vote at each step and let any dissenting voters speak their minds. We eventually came to a unanimous consensus, and I don’t think anyone felt that their voice wasn’t heard or their opinion was considered. Although we have some editors who answer to others, no one was above anyone else during the decision-making process for our layout. I believe that the interns at the Greyrock Review look to one another with respect and trust, and they want to work together in order to create something that we’ll all be proud enough to put our names to at the end of the year.

I had to consider my own impact on our group’s conversation this week. As the managing editor, I know that many of the group members have been deferring to me on issues this semester, including our graduate adviser. However, during this conversation, I don’t believe that my voice was any louder than anyone else’s. This could certainly be my own personal bias speaking. There were a few aspects of the design that I suggested, such as the sans serif font that we will most likely use, which many people agreed with, and I’m not sure if that was because of my own authority or because of the font’s correlation to our envisioned aesthetic.

Our graphic design intern, Haley H., has taken on a lot of responsibility in the past few weeks, especially in the layout department. She created five mock-ups for our meeting so that we could get an idea of what our literary journal could look like — with different sizes, shapes, running heads, fonts, etc. She made me wonder, “Why do we choose or prefer specific fonts over others?” We were using words like “professional,” “feminine,” “fun,” and “serious” to describe fonts, which was quite interesting to me because I never would have given human traits to fonts before this meeting. However, these terms never quite seemed to capture the essence of a particular font. Haley, on the other hand, was able to show us a font that made sense for our vision of the magazine without needing to describe the font in personality-type words. This shows me that our graphic designer can see these things without actually needing to describe them to us in a coherent way.

I was told this week by my thesis adviser to begin asking individuals why or how they do certain things at this internship. I asked Haley how she knows what will look good on the cover and pages of Greyrock. She said that she wasn’t sure, but that she just had a feeling after hearing our “aesthetic” words at the beginning of the meeting. When she had an idea of what everyone wanted collectively, she was able to choose specific fonts and page designs that would go along with our vision for the journal’s layout. I believe that intuition is key with her role, and Haley has an eye for the aesthetic that comes naturally to some and not at all to others (like me). We certainly need someone like Haley who can make those split decisions that can’t be quantified by most, but will look fantastic and professional in our final proof. She’s a great addition to our team!

This week, I realized that we’ve created a new culture in this internship recently. We’ve adapted our old culture of politeness and careful treading into storming, cooperation, coordination, and kinship. Since we have been able to put a name to our collective vision, we have made our own behaviors reflect our group mentality in which everyone’s opinion matters but individual voices are being heard at the same time. We’re now making sacrifices for the good of the group and adapting as time goes on. Greyrock contains a flexible team that is able to adapt over time and change their dynamic, which I have been taught to see as a necessary trait in the publishing industry.

Interview: Advice on Getting Into the Publishing Industry

This week at Greyrock, we had the incredible opportunity to ask Stephanie G’Schwind — faculty adviser to the Greyrock Review, director of the Center for Literary Publishing, and editor of the Colorado Review — questions about getting hired, working in the publishing industry, and the value of our internship. Here’s what we learned:

How did you get to where you are now?

I got here in a roundabout — and strangely direct — way. My parents were very disappointed when I became an English major, but I just decided that I wanted to be an editor — although I didn’t really know what that looked like. I went to graduate school here [at Colorado State University]. It’s not a good idea to go to graduate school just because you’re afraid of leaving the Eddy building [the English building], but I got an assistantship in the computer lab here. We were just starting to get computer literate at the time and I picked up some computer skills. When I was done with my master’s degree, I went to a temp agency that happened to ask, “Do you have computer skills?”

Luckily, I was placed as a temp at Group Publishing in Loveland, which was a Christian publishing company, in 1992. A lot of authors were still writing their manuscripts on typewriters, so I would put the typewritten manuscripts into the Mac — I was so thrilled. I was working in publishing! I was soon offered a chance to write as a copyeditor, which included a minor bit of technical writing and required a copyediting test. I remember thinking that I aced that test and being shocked at the many, many mistakes I made (including misspelling the name “Matthew”). I worked at Group Publishing for two years as a copyeditor, where I realized that I was not quite as awesome as I had thought and that I had a lot to learn. I wasn’t my dream job, but that was the job that was available. I was not super happy at it, but I think it’d be wise if you don’t hold out for your dream job right when you graduate because you’ll end up learning a lot.

Later on, my husband got a job in Indiana, so we moved there, and my friend said, “You should apply for a job at Indiana University Press.” So I asked the managing editor for a meeting. She said that there were no jobs, but I could work as a freelance copyeditor, which was much better. I learned there that everybody needs a copyeditor — even copyeditors need copyeditors. The PhDs there — I assumed that they’d be great writers and the job would be easy, but they were not. Freelancing is great when you have friends and a community, but I was really, really lonely freelancing in a town where I didn’t know anyone. I also didn’t have much control as a freelancer, which was uncomfortable for me. I thought I’d drum up more business, but not many publishing companies were on the Internet at the time, and I worked really hard to market myself to no avail.

One day, my managing editor called me and told me that there was a job opening and she said, “It’s a terrible job — I don’t know why anyone would want it” — she really said that — for a senior production assistant. To me, that sounded like the garage. It’s where the books get designed. I thought, “Well, I’ll get in there and I’ll get plucked out by the editorial department like an unfortunate orphan.” It was a clerical job, really, and I was overqualified for it. I was supporting the whole department and I resented it for a long time. Pretty soon, there was a RIF (Reduction in Force) at the university and the assistant manager’s work fell to me. I said that it wasn’t fair — this isn’t in my job description — and it became one of those moments when there was an opportunity. I didn’t end up getting paid more, but I learned a lot and I was able to learn how books actually get made.

We moved again, this time back to Fort Collins, and I started looking for a job. I saw the Colorado Review on the Denver Post job listing. It became very clear to me in the interview that if I’d gotten my wish to be a copyeditor, I wouldn’t be qualified for this job. He needed someone who could get the damn thing done — get the book to production — and that’s what got me to be the managing editor here. I was promoted to head editor and that’s where I am today. It was kind of by accident — all because of that temp job at Group — and now, I wonder what would’ve happened if I’d actually tried!

Do you have any advice for those about to graduate and wanting to work in publishing?

Ask questions! Use your resources — friends, family, professors, advisers. Find out who works in publishing and email them. Make sure to have specific questions, and just ask them to go to coffee or if you can stop by their workplace.

Where should we be looking for jobs?

Nowadays, you can find all of the job descriptions — all the job information you need — on the Internet. Before, it was just in the newspaper and you could only see the job title — not if you were qualified or what skills you needed. Right now, your best bet is probably entry-level positions.

What do you know about the Denver Publishing Institute? Is it worth it?

I didn’t used to think so, but now I do. My production job at IU was to work 40 hours a week, not to be mentored and learn things. It’s about four weeks long, it’s all day, every day, and it’s expensive — I think about $4,000 — but it’s a lot of networking. It’s basically a crash course in all things publishing. They do have some assistance. About five of my Colorado Review grad students did it and I think it was very useful to three of them.

Do we need to get an editing certificate?

I don’t know about that. I didn’t go that route. Everyone’s probably going to ask you to take that copyediting test, even if you have a certificate. But if it’s affordable, why not?

How hard is it going to be to get a job when we graduate?

It’s going to be hard for you guys to get a job right out of school. Grad school isn’t a reason to bide your time, but it does give you a few extra years of knowledge. Remember that that first job out of college is not your last job. Get something and just be patient. Get your certificates online while you’re working, do some research at home, and you’ll get there eventually.

Where should we look for entry-level jobs at presses we’re passionate about?

Look on BookJobs.com and MediaBistro. Don’t limit your searches to book publishing. One of my grad students went on to work at a cancer research magazine — it’s not literature, but it’s still really important work. Every major organization has stuff they publish (even the Girl Scouts). If you’re at all interested in design, sign up for graphic design courses — you can learn those things on Lynda.com and they have tutorials.

What’s your favorite and least favorite part of your career in publishing?

I love when I can publish someone and it makes a difference in their life. One personal essay we published got an award and the guy was promoted to full professor, which had a huge impact on him. I love working with interns and turning them onto things they didn’t know they were good at. I hate saying no, and I have to do that a lot here. I also hate doing things that have nothing to do with my job — things for the university, grant writing, fundraising, etc.

The Aesthetics of Our Literary Journal

Yesterday, we continued our discussion from last week on the layout of literary journals. This week, our meeting moved from general learning about jargon and the necessary aspects of layout to the discussion of how we would like our own literary magazine to look this year. Each person brought a literary journal in to use as an example and we discussed certain things that we liked and disliked about each journal.

The journal I brought was called Alaska Quarterly Review, which I found in the Colorado State English Department (see the photo above). I brought this specific journal because I liked the shape, which was about the size of a paperback novel, and the table of contents, which was organized by genre and had a very simplistic font.

The most important and primary issue we needed to resolve was the size and shape of journal that we wanted. Last year’s Greyrock was a medium-sized, square book, which I liked for its uniqueness but disliked because of the way it fit on my bookshelf. I suggested that we keep Greyrock simple by making it a thin volume that looks like a paperback book, which would fit well on shelves and blend in with most journals and other books. However, most of the other interns seemed interested in either the same shape as last year’s version or a slightly taller shape — a wide rectangle. We took a vote, and the majority of the group chose the wide rectangle shape, which will be quite large for a book, but one intern made the argument that it will look great on coffee tables, which I agree with.

After the long process of voting on the size and shape of the journal, we spent some time discussing the front matter we want. We will obviously be including the masthead (which describes the role of each intern at Greyrock), a table of contents, a title page, and the copyright information within the front matter. One intern suggested including some art within the front matter, which sounded interesting and was well-received within the group. The table of contents is another important aspect of our layout, which we finally decided would be organized by genre — although the journal itself will not be — without any antiquated dots running from the title to the page number.

One thing that we also had to discuss after deciding on the shape of the journal was whether we want the proof (the author’s work) within the journal to have columns. Several interns mentioned that columns make pages look too choppy and sometimes even confusing. However, we eventually agreed that — with such a large page size — columns would be necessary because huge blocks of text typically appear overwhelming to readers.

Finally, we spent some time discussing where we want our page numbers and whether we want to include running head or feet. We decided very quickly that we would have page numbers at the bottom and outside of each page, and I suggested that we maintain a running foot next to the page numbers. The interns voted to keep this idea, and we will be including the name of the Greyrock Review and the genre of the proof in the foot, which I think will look simple and professional.

There was a lot of friendly disagreement during our meeting, which was productive and added quite an interesting new dynamic to our group. I loved listening to each intern’s unique vision for our magazine. When I received last year’s version of Greyrock, I didn’t consider how much work went into just deciding on how the magazine would look. It became clear to me yesterday that every intern at Greyrock cares about this magazine and how the layout will look. I don’t think anyone chose not to participate in our conversation, and each team member had something to contribute. Even in the disagreements, it was clear that everyone was passionate about creating our journal, and everyone was willing to compromise for the good of the group in the end. I think that this is a caring and engaged group of people who really want to make something unique and important in order to have something special to put their names to when they graduate from CSU.

This week was the most fun one so far, because our team got the chance to sit in a circle and decide exactly how the Greyrock Review is going to look this year. It’s exciting for everyone that we’re starting completely from scratch and we get total creative license over the aesthetic of our magazine. Our task for next week is to come up with two words for the aesthetic that we want to use when creating all the small details of layout next semester, which we will condense at our next meeting in order to get a consensus before we start working on the layout, and my two words are minimalism and color.

Submittable

This week was our training week on the website Submittable.com. This is the website that student authors will use to submit their pieces of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and art to the Greyrock Review for consideration. Submissions are open from October 3 to December 16, so students have plenty of time to collect their favorite works and determine the best ones to send in. This week contained one of the most practical class periods we’ve had so far because Kristin provided us with real, on-the-job training that we’ll be using throughout the year — and probably in our careers in the publishing industry, because Submittable is widely used by publications that take submissions — and working closely with throughout the process of creating Greyrock.

Submittable is a very user-friendly site that allows multiple people to login, view all the submissions that have been sent in, vote on submissions that we enjoy and would consider for publication, and send pieces on to other interns to consider. The guidelines for submission are provided for each genre and students can send their pieces in, along with a cover letter. However, we have decided that it would be the most fair if we kept submissions blind throughout the review process. A blind review means that while the interns read through and vote on submissions, they will not be able to see the author’s name or cover letter until finalists are chosen.

Kristin also gave us a small homework assignment: For Submittable practice, we will each be creating our own Submittable account, submitting a piece to our section of Greyrock (I’ll just choose one since I don’t have an assigned section), and going through the same process we’ll be using for submissions throughout the year. Associate editors will be either denying or voting for submissions first and sending on approved submissions to genre editors, genre editors will do the same, and the submissions that have two votes will go to me (the managing editor), who will present the options for the whole team to officially vote on together. When we do this with actual student submissions, we will eventually get to a solid list of pieces we want to publish in our finalized Greyrock Review at the end of the school year.

This whole process has been quite eye-opening to me. We’re finally getting into the real training that we’ll be using for collecting and choosing submissions for our completed Greyrock masterpiece. I’ve been finding that while I’m so eager to get started with the real student submissions and producing a publication, an internship is really about the learning process and not the final product. While these training sessions might seem a bit tedious and not always ideal for me, I know that this is incredibly valuable information that I should be taking in and considering more closely than I have been.

The Greyrock learning process has certainly been fun to go through and keep track of — personally and through this thesis project — and should be something I’m recording, observing, and memorizing for the publication of this litmag and any literary journal I might work with in the future, because the submission process is universal, even if the Submittable website is not. I know that I need to enjoy this process and observe as much as possible throughout this semester, because I’m not only taking notes for my future in the publishing industry, but I’m also recording the culture of the Greyrock Review and my own impact on the literary journal this year. My impact has been clear in the past few weeks — other interns have been building off of my enthusiasm, and if I shirk my own learning responsibilities in these preliminary training sessions, I could change the culture of the entire journal.

Clearly, my eagerness to get started with the creation of the Greyrock Review is a bias that I need to keep track of and keep in check, because I need to learn the process before any of my team members (including myself) can begin the production of our final journal. I’m realizing this week that that’s where the value of an internship in the publishing industry lies — in the learning process. We can’t dive right into the creation of a litmag until we get the foundations first. I believe that if I really take the time to step back and allow myself to learn and train for this internship, I will be much more prepared for my future career. I should enjoy the learning process while I can, because my future employers won’t provide me with time for the learning curve to kick in, and I know that I can take this knowledge into my future career in publishing.

The Submission Process

This week’s Greyrock session was open to the public to maintain our status as a club at Colorado State University. Although the only people at the meeting were Greyrock interns and our graduate adviser, it was a very interesting class period and I learned a lot about the submission process.

Our graduate adviser, Kristin, began our meeting today encouraging all of the interns to challenge ourselves to submit at least one piece of writing to a literary journal (outside of the Greyrock Review) this semester. She went over websites we could use to look for open and unsolicited places to submit work throughout the year, such as Entropy, PoetsAndWriters.org, and Writer’s Market, and tips for getting our submissions read. Kristin emphasized the importance of thoroughly reading through the submission guidelines, because if the word count is off, the formatting is wrong, or the cover letter is written incorrectly, a submission will most likely not even be read. She also encouraged us to do some sincere research on each literary magazine before submitting so that our cover letters would provide something we like that’s unique to a specific journal, which might make the editors more inclined to choose our work.

Kristin also suggested logging each submission that we make — including the date submitted, the date that submissions end, the contact information of the litmag, and the name of the piece we submitted. Logging submissions will save us the trouble of trying to keep track of many submissions over several months that we’ll most likely forget about, and keeping track of the dates will provide a time frame for following up with litmags on our submissions before they’re chosen (or not).

One of the most important topics Kristin covered in Greyrock today was the concept of rejection, which most people consider a painful and shameful thing. However, Kristin said, “I’m honestly hoping that all of your first submissions to literary journals will get rejection letters, because it’s something that every writer has to go through — it’s like a right of passage.” She told us that rejection is a perfectly normal part of the submission process and that it’s always important to keep a sense of humor when you’re trying to get published. She told us, “It’s never a good thing when authors take themselves too seriously.”

This week’s session affirmed my assumptions from last week that the student interns at the Greyrock Review consider this internship a valuable stepping stone on the path to a career in the publishing industry and want to make it unique enough to stand out from past years. As Kristin discussed submitting to literary journals, I observed that every intern around me was attentive, interested, and often nodding in affirmation of Kristin’s advice. Several of the more extroverted people asked useful questions in front of the group and nearly everyone, when prompted about whether they would be attempting to submit a piece of their writing this year (with the exception of one intern), said they would. It truly seems to me that this internship is made of a team of students who are passionate about learning about both the writing and publishing sides of this magazine and want to cultivate their skills behind the scenes as they learn how the other side of the submission process works for their future careers. Like me, it seems that these students want to build a professional portfolio (in both editing and writing roles) before they graduate and enter the “real world.”

As managing editor, my task this week is to edit and update the Greyrock Literary Club’s constitution as part of our application to be an official CSU club. I’m excited to take Kristin’s advice about submitting pieces of writing along with me as I represent the Greyrock Review in front of other student organizations at my club officer orientation this week, and I will make sure that my editing, rewording, and changing of our constitution will reflect well on our team, as well as my new and growing submission skills. I’m excited to submit my own work and start obtaining submissions from students for Greyrock, beginning October 3 (next Monday!), which will mark the true beginning of our work as editors.

Double-Entry Notes

This week, we talked about fundraising at the Greyrock Review. Instead of recording my observations after the internship was over, I decided to try an ethnographic research technique known as double-entry field notes. According to FieldWorking, “double-entry notes are designed to make your mind spy on itself and generate further thinking and text” by forcing you to observe both your surroundings and your reactions as they appear before you (90). As you can see in the photo above, double-entry notes divide a page in half vertically: the left side is for direct observations and the right side is for recording personal reactions to observations.

This research exercise was eye-opening and made me consider my own biases at this internship and the way I impact the culture of the Greyrock Review. At first, I began recording the way the discussion was going and who brought up which topics, and my reactions were mostly based on my thoughts about the individuals who made specific comments. However, as the night went on, I began to get into the groove of writing down my observations and I started noticing more about my environment and less about the people in the room.

Overall, my most striking observations came from the table at which we sat together. I noticed that many group members were on their phones during quite a bit of our meeting. My immediate reaction to this was that they must all be distracted by their phones (texting, using social media, playing phone games, etc.), which I realize now is a personal bias that I hold against many people in my own generation. However, I soon came to the realization that most of the people on their phones were looking up different aspects of fundraising, and the qualifications for fundraising a CSU club, with their phones and sharing their findings with the whole team. We have quite a limited amount of time as a group each week, so the wide use of personal devices to make quick clarifications shows me that my fellow interns truly want to get things finished as efficiently as possible.

Throughout the night, I made some other small observations about the number of daily planners on the table in the meeting room (seven of ten interns had their planners out), the amount of times people volunteered to do extra work outside of class, and the number of questions that were asked for the sake of the whole group. My reaction to these observations tells me that I am among individuals who are excited to create this literary journal, want to create a legacy at CSU, and hope to use this internship as a stepping stone toward a career in the publishing industry. I’m learning more about the culture of this litmag every week, and I’m starting to notice several trends in our meetings that I think speak to the way Greyrock operates throughout the year.

Throughout the night, I also observed that when an intern asked Kristin, our graduate adviser, any questions, she turned to me instead of immediately answering them. This was quite nerve-racking for me, but my immediate reaction was surprise (and feeling honored) at how much she trusted me — enough to let me handle student questions. Over time, I noticed that many interns began to ask me questions directly instead of asking Kristin by the end of the night, which made me feel that they are starting to see me as a true Managing Editor this week. It’s becoming more clear to me just how much of an impact my presence makes on the culture of Greyrock. I’m interested to see how this new dynamic continues to develop next week as well.

My duties before our next meeting include reminding everyone to sign up for three classroom visits in which we speak to classes about getting Greyrock submissions; making sure that our promotional flyers are made, printed, and distributed throughout campus, announcing that we have a public meeting for our club next week about the submission process; recruiting extra RamRide volunteers for our fundraising efforts (we get $1,000 if we have 30 volunteers at RamRide, but we only have 10 interns); and contacting the SLiCE office to learn about our current finances and our account information for RamRide registration. I’m absolutely loving all my new responsibilities at this internship!


Sources:

Chiseri-Strater, Elizabeth, and Bonnie S. Sunstein. FieldWorking: Reading and Writing Research. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1997. Print.