What Being an Editor Taught Me About Myself

I have always loved reading and writing, but I fell off the literary wagon as I got older and my schedule became more demanding. Creating my own work became a daunting task to the point where I stopped trying. Everyone around me seemed more dedicated and more talented. I had even stopped allocating time to read the books I wanted to read. I came to a mundane time in my life where I focused on work and went out with friends, but spent little time reflecting on art or the written word. I felt like a failure as an artist. Then I joined the Brainchild team.

Being on a team meant I had to let go of some control. There are numerous steps to making a magazine, and the first concrete ones had almost nothing to do with me. This was a humbling experience. The design team informed the editorial staff of their decisions and they were always willing to hear our opinions, but they also had the final say of when something was logistically possible with regard to design. In three months, I learned about page layout, margins, page finish, spacing, color continuity, and so much more. The holistic magazine contained components other than what I could contribute, and I was moved by the synthesis of different voices into a single, cohesive vision. I saw art evolve within multiple minds and culminate in a final product that not I nor any one of us alone could have imagined.

When our submissions closed, the editorial team worked tirelessly. We spent hours each night commenting on one lengthy document. We met every week to argue, explain, and defend our edits and suggestions. Sometimes I did not get to read a submission before another editor rejected it, and I learned to trust that other members of the team were keeping the best interests of the magazine in the forefront of all decisions. We requested rewrites and sometimes asked for additional pieces from submitters. Workshopping someone else’s writing helped me to handle constructive criticism of my own. An outside reader experiences organization and word choice from a fresh, less attached perspective. When I write, I am convinced it is perfect because these are my beloved phrases, this is my painstaking masterpiece and no one outside of my raw emotion that produced it could possibly understand its importance. Looking back, I find it funny that I was the biggest hindrance to my work and I appreciate the guidance I have learned to accept. I know now that emotion cannot be spread from writer to reader when it is muddled, and a team can help you see yourself and your work from angles that you can’t.

In the end, we created a magazine. Works of art that I personally fought to keep were arranged on a page and bound in a book with the color scheme we chose and the organization we agonized over. We celebrated what we created. This was not my baby, but the child of team gestation. I learned to let go of my need for total artistic control and then realized that great art is accomplished through collaboration. A magazine came together through a tight team of twelve and too many submitters to count. I could not be more elated.

Ellie Marshall