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The Basics

Publishing in a Calvin Student Publication

Dialogue, Chimes, Uncompressed… Surely you’ve heard the names. Calvin’s student publications are distributed around campus on a regular basis. Dialogue looks for just about any creative work, from poems to stories to essays, as well as visual art. Chimes looks for newsy nonfiction pieces (news, arts & entertainment, opinion pieces, letters to the editor, etc. Contact section editors for more information). Uncompressed looks for cultural commentary—essays and reviews. I’ve been involved with all three mentioned above (there’s also Prism, the Calvin yearbook), so I’m inclined toward unself-conscious blatant promotion. Really, though, why should you submit?

Experience—
Writing for a Calvin student publication is a great way to gain experience. Though the process is a little different, you’re submitting work for consideration, potentially learning to handle rejections, and being read by someone who is (probably) not a friend or relative.

Portfolio—
Writing for a student publication is also a great way to build your portfolio. You’ll have physical evidence of your writing skill and practice. It is also immensely satisfying to see your work on a printed page and your name in a byline.

Campus Culture—
Publishing in a campus magazine has the potential to contribute to the creation of a campus culture of thought-provoking commentary and artistic inspiration. It’s a good thing to participate in

Build an Audience—
So you’ve heard that no one reads [insert campus publication of your choice]? Maybe it’s true that these publications aren’t read as much as they could be. If you’re published in one of them, though, you can entice your friends to read, and if they read your story/poem/essay/article, maybe they’ll read someone else’s, and maybe they’ll show their other friends. You can be instrumental in building a reader base.

Service of an Artist—
Writing for student publications could also be seen as a service to your classmates. As writers, we believe that our writing serves a purpose, that we’re giving the world our insight, wisdom, beauty. And the world includes classmates and our college community.

Practice Run—
Also, publishing in Calvin student publications doesn’t mean you can’t seek to publish the piece anywhere else. It’s a bit of a gray area, as journals and magazines don’t generally make mention of student publications, but it’s probably safe to assume that work published in a student magazine as part of one’s undergraduate education is fair game to be submitted elsewhere. You can think of submitting to a Calvin publication as a sort of practice run for your manuscript.

Essentially, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose in submitting to a Calvin student publication.

Next Step?—
What else is there? Well, why not join the staff of one of these publications? Working on a Calvin student publication gives you the opportunity to experience publication from the inside, and to take a certain pride in the product you help create. I’ve worked on student publications most of my time at Calvin, and the experience has been vastly rewarding—and fun.

Dialogue has a varying degree of staff involvement; the magazine changes quite a bit from editor to editor. Working for Dialogue gives you the opportunity to see the publication process from start to finish—reading submissions and deciding which will be in the issue (it’s a blind submission process; only the editor knows who the authors are) as well as looking at visual art submissions, often seeing the proof copy of the issue, and distributing and promoting the final product when it arrives. Being a staff writer for Chimes doesn’t even require coming into the office, just writing regularly. But why not spend some quality time in the Chimes office—consider working as a copy editor, if you are a grammar-lover, methodical, and enjoy snack food and laughing. Uncompressed doesn’t exactly have a staff, but if you’re going to be a sophomore and you’re interested in popular culture and cultural commentary, consider becoming a “cultural discerner”—you’ll be able to write for Uncompressed AND participate in readings and discussion.