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A Staff Member’s Perspective on their Experience in Creating SUNY Geneseo’s Original Literary Magazine, Gandy Dancer

Posted by Connor Hillman, Fiction Reader for issue 4.2

library_infiniteAs an English major, I’ve been wondering when I would get to make practical use of the skills I’ve been learning. Sure enough, along came ENGL426: The Editing and Production workshop, the class in which we create the college’s biannual literary journal, Gandy Dancer. Our title comes from the slang term used for railroad workers of the 18th century. Like those workers, the journal reflects the diligence of the artists, poets, and writers who refine their work to create something that allows others passage.

I was excited to learn that we would be reading and selecting the work we wanted to include in Gandy Dancer. Finally, I can read through literature for the sole purpose of discovering and discussing what makes it appealing or not. There are no lengthy research papers, though that doesn’t mean we don’t have to work hard. In fact, it’s a different kind of work altogether. In Gandy Dancer we work as a cohesive and interdependent staff. Not doing your “homework” here means letting everyone down. No one wants to be the one who shows up unable to provide any input about the submissions. I’m normally pretty quiet in class, but here I am required to vocalize my opinions frequently, which is a good thing. After submissions have been selected, we begin copyediting and then digitally constructing the layout of the journal in InDesign. Having worked with InDesign for my High School’s yearbook, I felt confident in this stage of development. The interdependence of our staff is now more prevalent as each of us work on individual pages of the journal that will eventually come together. To students contemplating taking this class, I urge you to do so. Working on Gandy Dancer gives an experience that is closer to actual job. You have to work and communicate effectively with others, maintain a goal oriented schedule with deadlines, and in the end your name is on the masthead. All in all, I’m grateful to be a part of this staff and to be able to participate in a project oriented class. It’s rewarding to dedicate yourself to something that is legitimate, published, and has your name on it.

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