The View of an Arcturus Editor (2018)

By Isabella Stewart


Growing up, I loved telling stories. There was something about creating an imaginary world with imaginary people doing absolutely implausible—maybe even magical—things that excited me. I never saw storytelling as a chance to remove myself from the world, but rather an opportunity to explore with what already exists.

In fiction, the “normal” rules of the universe had little bearing on the story’s possibilities. The only constants were the hopes, dreams, and ambitions of the people in that story.

This fascination clung to me.

In my last full year of public high school, I wrote a two-hour screenplay that changed my outlook on life: it was undeniably public and the product of merciless collaboration. I was fifteen years old and, somehow, self-assured.

The night of the first performance, every seat in my school’s auditorium was filled. From backstage, I could hear the audience murmuring. Every actor—ranging from age 11 to 16—recited their lines over and over, scripts tight in their hands. The performance, overall, was a product of teamwork.

In sharing my writing, I gave other kids both a small, temporary community, and an opportunity to share their talents.

If you’re anything like me and have a family that expects a lot of you, you’ll know that “how can I make my passion into a plausible career?” isn’t a question that comes up just once.

Now, while I’m not exactly keen on ever being a playwright again, I did find that helping people put their art out into the world—the best it could be—was something that I wanted to do.

Ultimately, I want to be an editor for fiction. There are steps a person has to take to see their goals through. For me, one of those steps is being part of Arcturus’ editorial team.

As I anticipated, editing is meticulous—but rewarding— work. This year (2018), Arcturus had over 300 submissions. As an editor, I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing each and every one of them. This was my favorite task of editing the Arcturus because I like to read. I get to see a person’s rarest facets in their writing.

As a writer myself, reading submissions was a learning experience. There was such a variety of writing that I asked myself the same two questions with every submission that I read: was this engaging? Why, or why not?

Now, I can ask myself the same questions about my own writing with “editor’s eyes”.

I had to say “no” to submissions (rejection, first and foremost, can be frustrating, but also an opportunity for improvement above all else). I also got to say “yes” to submissions. After reviewing as many submissions as we had (300), a journal comes closer and closer to visualize. The last part of the process was what some people called the “business” side of publication.

Another responsibility of the editors, which I shared with my colleagues, was spreading the word about Arcturus. This included tabling, fliers, and online advertisement. Two of the newest additions to this “business” side of publication were new brochures, and Arcturus Speaks, an online spoken word segment. The latter was created because we, the editors, felt that submissions that were meant to be spoken word should be presented as spoken word. We weren’t technologically advanced enough to put videos into physical literary journals, so we decided to create the “Arcturus Speaks” online page.

Arcturus contains a compilation of creative work (fiction, poetry, artwork, and photography) from many different authors. For next year’s edition of Arcturus, one of those authors could be you; submissions are open year-round to all students, staff, faculty, and alumni, free of charge. The cut-off date is February 2nd.

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