Creative publication is a cornerstone to an artist’s way of life. While Knox is home to a substantial population of students entering career fields involving the arts, there are also students who are not entering the field as their career, but still have the passion and desire to share their work. The student-run literary magazines at Knox provide an opportunity for self expression to every student, regardless of their intended majors or minors.
While for most students the work that goes into the publications may simply be submitting an academic essay, short story, or other work of art, the process of creating each edition is more extensive.
For publications such as Catch, Quiver, or Cellar Door, the main process of creating the book begins with opening a submission drive. The publications are all seeking outstanding creativity, but have slight differences in the content that is usually published.
Senior Elizabeth Bockrath, editor-in-chief of Quiver, describes that Quiver is focused more on displaying genre works, which is more specific than the focus of Catch or Cellar Door. Bockrath also intends to make a more valiant effort to educate students about fiction, as it might influence students to be more comfortable submitting their work to Quiver.
While Quiver is mostly genre specific, senior and co-editor in chief of Catch, Alex White, describes that they aim to get as many submissions as they can from as many different people as possible. Because Catch generally receives the greatest amount of submissions per edition, it also means that the editors have to be more selective when accepting works to include in the book.
White hopes to spread the message that being rejected from Catch or any of the literary magazines does not determine a student’s abilities as an artist and should not discourage them from submitting again or continuing to write or create.
“If you want to be published as a writer or as an artist, you’re going to have to be rejected again and again,” White said.
White describes that rejection is formative and is necessary for one’s development as a writer or artist. Receiving feedback and getting the chance to read and discuss other students’ work is a significant aspect of the creative process.
The staff members of both Catch and Quiver make a conscious effort to offer feedback to those whose submissions have been rejected. Bockrath said that, when rejected, students are given a list including at least three positive remarks and 3 constructive criticisms of their submission.
“We don’t just want to say no,” Bockrath said. “We want to help encourage writing and facilitate dialogue with people who submit.”
The initial process for Cellar Door is relatively similar, but differs in the fact that every submission that is re-submitted after the workshop period is accepted into the publication.
Seniors Evelyn Coffin and Kaylie Padgett, who are co-editors in chief of Cellar Door emphasize the workshop process and the idea of students being passionate about their art over anything else.
“Cellar Door is kind of under the ethos of ‘love your work,’ so it’s not about the formal acceptance or rejection process,” Padgett said. “It’s about providing an opportunity to workshop pieces and give people who maybe wouldn’t have another opportunity a space to see their work published in a book.”
After students send their initial submissions, they are then invited to participate in workshops lasting just a few days, and then submit their revised pieces. Those who re-submit are automatically put in the finished book.
“We’ve been saying our motto lately is ‘the stranger the better,’” Coffin said. “Everyone makes really strange things and buries those strange things, but we like to see them.”
Padgett and Coffin describe that the magazine accepts anything from screenshots of art to receipts. In those cases, students are asked to come to the workshops to learn how to convey what the message behind their submission and what the conversation about it might be. Though Cellar Door accepts all of the submissions it receives, a significant obstacle for the literary magazines that don’t is choosing which submissions to accept or reject, as well as figuring out a way to tell students they’ve been rejected without undermining the value of their work.
“With 40 fiction submissions there’s a lot of really good ones,” White said. “And so narrowing it down to four or five is really hard.”
For Catch, the most popular form of submissions are fiction writing, poetry, and visual art pieces. Sections that don’t receive as many submissions are journalism and drama.
Bockrath said that most of the submissions to Quiver this year have been short stories and photos, and that she would like to see more nonfiction submissions examining genre and genre works. For Cellar Door, poetry receives the most submissions, while Coffin and Padgett would like to see more submissions of music and drama.
Another obstacle faced by all three publications is the amount of submissions received combined with the time constraints. The publications open submissions as soon in the school year as they can, and the drive lasts a few weeks. While Catch and Quiver have already closed their drives, Cellar Door is still accepting submissions until Oct 14.
During the submission process, the staff members of the publications have a relatively light workload. After the submission drives close, however, the editors of the publications take a little over a week to read all of the submissions.
For the editors of Catch, this means having to read anywhere from two thousand to four thousand pages of writing in a short period of time. Because of this, there are section editors who are able to read each submission in their section more closely than the co-editors in chief are able to.
In order to keep the anonymity of the works, staff members remove the names attached to the submissions to remove any potential biases. Those at Quiver replace the names on submissions with the names of fictional characters to make the selection process more interesting.
Since Cellar Door accepts any submission, the busiest part of the process comes when workshop periods are set up for each piece submitted. The process of designing and putting the book together is also lengthy for the publications.
“It’s usually week eight or nine in the term when you’re at the point where classes hit their hardest and now you have to carve out 10 extra hours a week to put into design,” Padgett said.
The staff members encourage anyone who is at all interested in publishing their work to submit, even if they are uncertain. While it may not get accepted to Catch or Quiver, the learning process is an important aspect in the life of an artist, writer, or creator in general.
While all of the literary magazines at Knox have their unique qualities, they all share goal of displaying works of art created by students that have something they want to express, and delivering it in such a way that makes it accessible to others across campus.