June is an emotional and nostalgic month for me. Two Junes ago, when I started planning The Passed Note, I had no idea what I was doing. I was a graduate student who had four years in publishing under her belt, but had never before run my own literary magazine. I’d been an editorial assistant, a layout artist, an interviews editor, but never those three formidable, exciting words: editor-in-chief. A tiny part of myself whispered, “Dooooo it. Dooooo it,” and I was frozen in terror by the thought. I knew nothing.
I had so much help along the way, but the first help I received in starting out was from a professor, Catherine Campbell. Catherine single-handedly made the entire process not only doable, but realistic. She broke up the process in chunks. One class was just about my potential audience. One class to come up with a name. Another to design the logo. A small task for each time we met. She would not let me give up, would never let me call the road ahead impossible. It was always just one step more.
I eventually had a team: a rag tag team of women scattered across the country, all hopelessly in love with young adult literature. I owe every issue to these women, without whom we wouldn’t have an issue, an audience, or work to publish. Megan Parker flawlessly comments on each piece of work that comes across our submission page with grace, aplomb, and joy. My best edits come from her. Jeanette Vigliotti is the beating heart, so set on encouragement, kindness, and motivation. Her sweetness keeps me going on the days I want to give up altogether. Meg Cannistra is vehemently devoted to the mission of YA and reaching our audience. She aspires me to want more for our readers constantly. The Passed Note would not exist without these women.
One woman in particular stood by me during the entire process—physically for a good chunk of that. Lauryn (Polo, to everyone who knows her) was with me when I first dared to say the words out loud. Between our graduate school classes, Polo and I would go on long drives: to vent about classes, talk about writing, and share sweet, sweet gossip.
“So,” I said as we drove up our favorite road, the windows down and our fingers flittering in the May breeze. “I think I want to start a literary magazine for teens.”
“That’d be SO COOL, DUDE!” she practically shouted.
“Yes! You should do it.”
We spent so much time over the next several months talking and planning. She helped me to debrief after my classes with Catherine, gave honest opinions about website copy. She was there for the first meetings, the first issues. After our first team meeting via Hangouts, Polo was there to reassure me that, despite my anxiety, it had actually gone really well. She later would co-run our Instagram with Jeanette and make so many good suggestions for social media campaigns, she’s more than doubled our following.
I’d like to dedicate this issue to my second staff member, the woman who stood by me, and assured me that this idea was worth pursuing. Thank you, Polo. None of this would have happened without you.
(This blog post is a peak of some of the content from Issue Four, live today! Check it out!)