“Can I sail through the changing ocean tide? Can I handle the seasons of my life?”
“Bye, bye, Little Sebastian. I’ll miss you in the saddest fashion.”
My time as co-editor has come to an end. After three years of working with Opus, obsessing over it, Abby and I (Sadina) leave it to Grace Hulderman and Madison Veverka. I know they’ll keep Opus thriving with dignity and diversity. This has been a unique privilege, and I’m leaving feeling bittersweet.
Here are some things I’ve learned from my time as co-editor:
1) No matter how many emails I send, no matter how many posters, cutouts, speeches to the class, shameless plugs, people will still ask me what time my event is and where. In this same regard, people will still be confused when it comes to sending submissions. How many pieces, what email to send it to, how many pages. Not all emails are meant to be read, I guess. Patience is key.
2) I can use “I” language during meetings, remind people to use inclusive language themselves, and people will still be biased when it comes to commenting and voting during meetings. I’ve learned that this means they’re passionate – they care enough to speak about the piece, which means that on some level, the piece is working. I’ve also learned that this means the creative process is a tough one – sometimes, some pieces don’t get in that really do deserve to get in. Democracy at work, but there’s something beautiful about it. Tarfia Faizullah said that writing is probably the most democratic form of art there is, and I agree.
3) If I want anything to be done well, to excel, I need to rely on my staff. There have been so many times when I thought I could handle it myself, but after my staff pitched in, I realized I couldn’t have done it without them. I hired my staff for a reason, and I am part of a team for a reason. This is especially true when it comes to art – everyone has a different opinion, and it’s important that they’re all heard. My staff this year are all beautiful people. I was very lucky to have them on the team.
4) Some art is meant to be fun. Though it’s important to be professional and not make light of any submissions, it can be easy to take a humorous poem that is playful in form and criticize it for not being “high art.” Art is for everyone. When I read submissions, I try to think who the demographic will be, and how they will enjoy this piece. Our demographic is everyone, because the students on campus are from everywhere. Something will appeal to everyone if we do our job right. Part of that means having fun and taking it a little easy when it comes to criticism.
5) College ends quickly. Suddenly, it’s my senior year and I’m writing my last blog post. I hope everyone who is reading this takes a moment to realize how they got where they are, and how quickly this can all go. My time at Hope College has been more than I could have expected, but my time with my staff has been the most important. Their strength, maturity, humor, intellect, and talent has made me remember why I wanted to write and why I wanted to run Opus in the first place. I believe that Opus can do something for campus: bring voices to light that never really get heard, show students through art that they are not alone, remind us that we are balancing several aspects of our lives and it’s delicate and hard, teach us and show us how to improve our art. Opus is so much more than a literary magazine. I hope that it continues years after I graduate, that it expands and becomes a collaborative, important resource for students. I hope that it stays independent of the faculty and board members, that students recognize they are capable of running the magazine and producing something that can make Hope College proud. There are hundreds and hundreds of talented students on campus, gifted with the ability to communicate their truths through art, and Opus is privileged to see their vulnerabilities, creations, extraordinary abilities. I love Opus. My time went by too quickly.
Grace Hulderman, Madison Veverka, Shanely Smith, Ryan Woodside, and Joy Rhine – I wish you luck and congratulate you. Make Abby and I proud – we know you will. And, of course, remember to keep creating ;).
Thank you for reading Opus people. I’ll miss you.