Colorado State University Center for Literary Publishing

The Undergraduate Literary Journal: A Bridge to Becoming a Writer

Mar 29, 2016

by Emily Harnden, Colorado Review Editorial Assistant

The first short story I ever fell in love with, the kind of love that happens only once or twice when you are young and hopeful and vulnerable to getting your heart punctured, was, predictably, “How to Become a Writer,” by Lorrie Moore. That whip-smart opening—“First, try to be something, anything else”made a lasting impression on me in my sophomore year of college. It was around that time that I was beginning to figure out what was next for me, and realizing it might be the very thing my parents were terrified of: more school, student debt, and the uncertainty that comes with most postgraduate degrees of the artistic pursuit.

After reading Moore’s story, I recognized the unconventional path I was about to put myself on, but like a stop sign you cruise straight past, I kind of knew there was no turning back. I felt unnerved and yet inwardly giddy when I applied to MFA programs in creative writing.

Something obvious I have learned while in grad school: Writers of all ages crave recognition. It makes us human—to have our words heard and met with understanding, appreciation, even kindness. It does wonders to use that word, writer, a word so often those of us who write fear as pretentious, overeager. If someone is young and calling herself a writer, she is considered to be getting waaayyy ahead of herself.

The tricky part—this Becoming a Writer—is often characterized as the rung on the ladder above getting published. Get published, become a writer. If only every equation in life were that simple, yeah?

Yet younger creative writers, specifically undergraduates, often do not possess the means to having their voices heard outside the classroom, to break into this business of Becoming a Writer. We all know rejection is part of the game when submitting our creative work to literary magazines, and as a graduate student, I can attest to how very difficult it is to get your first publication. Competition is stiff and the entire process wholly subjective.

As the graduate adviser to Greyrock Review here at Colorado State, I am so glad to be part of a program that recognizes the value in giving undergraduate students the opportunity for their work to be published and read. Greyrock Review, a journal produced and run by CSU undergraduates, publishes thoughtful and engaging poems, essays, short stories, and artwork by undergraduate students each spring semester. Young writers are working to discover themselves and what writing can do, and the immediacy of their voices, their sincerity, is something that makes Greyrock special and worth reading.

This year’s edition of Greyrock Review will be released at Wolverine Farm Publick House on April 28th from 6:00 to 8:00 p m. Come for a copy and stay for a reading by some of our talented writers. Their work is ambitious, genuine, weird, funny, raw, and most notably, real.

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