I must open with the fact that I do not think there is a better opportunity to understand the students and culture at Highline, than being an Arcturus Editor. And, for the record, I say this as a proud writing center tutor, who loves working with the diverse student body on campus- where we see people every day.
But what’s different, is that we are almost the secret spies infiltrating the “Highline Underground”- because we get to read anonymous submissions from the creative minds of campus- whereas with places like the writing center, we know whom we are speaking with directly.
There is some kind of vulnerability that we witness as editors that I personally find humbling. It goes with the magazine’s namesake, Arcturus, the brightest star in the celestial sphere of our universe- we are but vulnerable humans on this earth…Whether or not this metaphor comes across as Arcturus Editors being literal stars, and writer’s submissions being humans on a Highline-earth- is beyond me.
I guess our small group of editors is akin so a small solar system, where we revolve around the idea of our year’s version of Arcturus, and we pass and collide with each other to create fantastic discussions about what makes each poem shine.
And each of us editor-planets are changed as well from these collisions.
I know that I’ve gained experience with inter-communication, leadership, and cooperative group-work skills from this experience- speaking my part but also developing how to listen to other ideas without personal bias for the piece interfering with my understanding.
Being an editor is not using a red-pen and checking for the minutest grammar issues- I think that is the biggest misconception. Instead, being an editor is about appreciating the diversity and uniqueness of each submission- in tandem with the criteria we consider ‘great’ creative writing- and determining what best establishes the culture of highline in the current state.
Even the pieces we do not accept are within the category of ‘great.’ I think a guest editor we had the privilege of meeting during a class this quarter, Artress Bethany White (of the Journal Pangyrus, and Solstice: A Journal of Diverse Voices) said that looking at submissions was like looking at a good restaurants menu- but you can’t pick all the items.
That’s another experience I wouldn’t have had- had I not been an editor- meeting Editors from other, prestigious journals! It is such a cool experience to learn how different journals work, and how we can implement and learn from them!
I have also spent more time communicating with other departments around the college than ever before- with the writing center primarily, but with a few other departments like the National Poetry Month Committee. This course has given me the challenge and gumption to reach out to the Milky way that is Highline.
Overall, I think as an editor, a large portion of excitement is geared towards the final product- a Big-Bang-event per say. It’s a source of pride and achievement, to have helped leave a legacy of this year of highline in literary form- because there is a archived catalogue in the library, open for all to view.
Kiera Golden is Arcturus editor and lead tutor at the Writing Center.