In this post, I would like to talk about my experience as editor of Notes, one of the main student-run magazines in Cambridge. We publish creative writing, from prose to poetry, and we are trying to expand further to include a wider variety of visual arts too through our printed issues and online platform. The project started more than five years ago and its current format is the result of a constant refinement. During term time we publish fortnightly, allowing many contributors to find a space for their creations to be known and enjoyed. In this regard, we are very keen on providing feedback to all those who submit, whether their work has been shortlisted or not. In fact, I would say it is the sense of human contact that makes us different from similar student enterprises.
My main job as an editor consists of reading the submissions we receive for each two-week cycle. The editorial team is made of five people and we all read everything on our own, before discussing it again during our meetings. These gatherings last between three and four hours, as we need to go over each piece and decide a variety of things: whether to publish it or not; what to write back in the feedback; where to place the work, in case of publication; what title should the new issue have. Despite the well-exercised schedule we try to keep, each case is different and it implies a good deal of creativity to present a valuable product.
While we are at work, the publicity team organises the coming launch event. This usually means a gathering at some public venue, such as a college bar, a pub, or an art gallery, with live music and reading sessions. Contributors are invited to read their pieces in front of the audience, offering a friendly context for confrontation and discussion among the Cambridge creative community. In this regard, I am particularly fond of Notes’s social disposition and the way it has provided an occasion for many to engage with like-minded individuals. This is the result of a series of factors and I would definitely mention our attention to individual contributors among them.
Compared to many similar student societies, Notes benefits from the professionalism developed over years of constant practice. Personally, I am extremely grateful to be part of its team. I found myself becoming part of a lively and engaged network of writers and passionate readers. Studying at university, I often face a pretty self-contained side of culture. Reading a monograph about Tuscan trecento painters is a lonely experience, where the confrontation occurs mainly through a silent exchange of written words. Notes aims at providing a space where the creative mind can meet a keen audience through its own work. I hope to see this enterprise grow and I believe that the enthusiasm shown by those who operate it is the best auspice for a young, dynamic, creative publication.