4 Ways Writing Unlocks the World

Writing opens the door to infinite opportunities. Keep reading to see how my experience with writing as a creative writing student, English instructor, and Sigma Tau Delta member has unlocked the world for me.

Shannon Nakai-Writing1. Sharing Cultural Perspectives

From a writer’s perspective, I cherish both the labor and fruits of writing for the stories they reap. As a current English instructor, I read journal entries and essays by dozens of students each semester and learn that nearly everyone has something to add to the human narrative. (That’s one reason I love reading the Humans of New York and spinoff Humans of Sigma Tau Delta articles.) The human population is diverse and teeming with ideas and different ways to interpret life, through culture and communication. The literature and poetry they produce serves as a threshold between cultures and time periods; from The Epic of Gilgamesh to Salman Rushdie or Marilynne Robinson (personal favorites), the stories reflect thoughts, experiences, traditions (and the challenges of).

2. Building Relationships

Writing also serves as a means of connection. In an age when we are exposed to information constantly through social media and news, from the microcosmic level of our friends’ lives and community events to a broader exchange through globalization, writing channels this dissemination of ideas. We can join an international discourse of literature, politics, medicine, technology, and so forth. As a teacher, I help develop the voices of the next generation of young professionals. Whether they pursue academics or not, they are equipped to articulate their ideas, formulate projects, request funding, document research, and problem solve.

3. Accelerating Careers

Library of Celsus in Ephesus, Turkey-Writing

Library of Celsus in Ephesus, Turkey

After graduation, I had the fantastic opportunity to be a Fulbright Scholar in Turkey. To achieve this high accomplishment, I had to communicate both my abilities and my reasons for obtaining government funds to live and work abroad for a year. Having honed an articulate and representative voice on paper, I could explain my interest in working with people from particular regions of the world, the skills I had to offer, and future goals. When I returned to the States, I faced the harsh reality of an anemic job market. In an age when everything is going digital, I knew I would not get a phone call or an initial interview with companies; the only way potential employers would “meet” me was through my writing. I had to give a virtual “introduction” of myself through e-mails and cover letters, as will many future graduates. I had to find a way to adhere to structure and simultaneously be unique and memorable. While the world of job-hunting can be hit-or-miss, I was able to attain an incredible internship with an independent publishing company, whose editor was in Berlin at the time. Through writing, we forged a relationship that led to a wonderful and marketable experience.

4. Engendering Multi-Modal Creativity

Charles Baxter and Shannon Nakai-Writing

Charles Baxter and Shannon Nakai

While not everyone feels compelled to write the next great American novel, I see a growing trend in writing as the vessel for self-expression and -exploration: the number of blogs chronicling life events, the articles people write—whether free-lance or professional—innovative forms of poetry, creative screenplays or teleplays, songwriting, journaling, as well as the publication of short stories and novels, give rise to a burgeoning market for independent and self-publishing companies. Getting one’s ideas “out there” can lead to change, as well as exciting opportunities for the writer! Sigma Tau Delta’s international convention, for one, is a storehouse of ideas and creativity, where writers across the globe converge with essays, stories, poems, and roundtable discussions on various topics, as well as meet other famous writers! (I had the privilege of meeting Charles Baxter at the 2016 Convention in Minneapolis.)

Writing is a legacy we’ve inherited from a vast canon of culture and narratives; in this generation we will each find a way to add our voice and story using the constantly changing but time-old medium of writing.


SNakaiShannon Nakai
Student Representative, High Plains Region, 2015-2016
Alpha Theta Omicron Chapter
Wichita State University, Wichita, KS

7 Reasons You Should Apply for Sigma Tau Delta’s Journal Internship

I worked as one of two interns on Sigma Tau Delta’s journals, The Sigma Tau Delta Review and The Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle from May 2016 through January 2017. It was an amazing opportunity that allowed me to practice the skills I want to develop as an editor: reading submissions, copy editing, proofreading, and designing layout. I enjoyed this internship and I think you will too! Here’s why you should apply for the journal internship.

1) Gain Experience Working and Editing Remotely

journal internship work remotelyMany freelance editors and writers must learn how to work remotely and communicate through email, text messages, and Skype. This can take some adjusting if you’re used to working in an office or on a campus where you can talk face-to-face with people. This internship provides over six months of experience to develop your telecommunication skills.

2) Learn Multiple Stages of the Editorial Process

Maybe you’ve edited articles for your campus literary magazine, but you haven’t designed an entire project using InDesign. Maybe you’ve worked with InDesign before, but you’ve never read submissions and helped with the selection process. This internship gives you experience in all of those things, which means you’re learning how to do new things, or you’re practicing things you already have some experience in. Real-world experience is something you can’t gain in the classroom, but an internship like this allows you to practice these skills in a friendly and helpful environment—if you have questions, the managing editor is ready to help, and you’ll learn helpful tips from your fellow intern as well!

3) Learn to Pace Yourself and Meet Deadlines

journal workshop to doThis internship is spread out from April through December, but each stage of the publishing process has deadlines you must meet. The work comes in chunks—reading submissions for a few weeks, copy editing selections, fixing citations and quotes on critical essays, and designing layout. You must be able to prioritize the internship work to meet deadlines. It’s hard, especially when you’re balancing other internships, jobs, schoolwork, and extracurricular activities. However, learning to manage deadlines and possible setbacks during various stages of the publishing process is worth it!

4) Broaden your Sigma Tau Delta Network

Although I’m involved in our campus activities, I hadn’t been involved in anything Sigma Tau Delta-related beyond my campus. This internship gave me the opportunity to work with others in the Sigma Tau Delta network, like the other intern and our managing editor. I also read submissions from Sigma Tau Delta members from across the Society. Connecting with members outside my own campus and participating in Sigma Tau Delta’s journals both were such beneficial experiences.

5) Beef up your Résumé

This internship looks amazing on your résumé! It spans more months than a typical semester- or summer-long internship, which looks impressive because it shows you were able to commit to a long-term project. It also indicates you gained experience in several aspects of editing, which means you’re versatile, flexible, and willing to learn new things.

6) Money, Money, Money!

It pays $1,500. That’s right, it’s a paid internship in the publishing industry! That’s incredible. What’s more incredible is that the pay is more than most paid internships in the publishing industry, and you don’t even have to go into an office every day—you can do this internship in your pajamas. The generous payment for this internship makes it one of the most worthwhile experiences I’ve had so far as I begin my career in editing.

7) The Journal Internship Is Fun

I loved reading all of the creative non-fiction essays, fiction, poetry, and yes, even critical essays from Sigma Tau Delta members. Some of it was really good and some of it wasn’t great, but it was enjoyable. I also loved copy editing and proofreading the selected pieces, and working on layout was challenging but enjoyable. If you like reading creative and academic writing, if finding a misplaced comma excites you, if perfecting the formatting of a poem leaves you satisfied, you’ll love this internship.Journal Internship Is Fun

So, what are you waiting for? Start drafting your cover letter and tighten up your résumé because applications are due March 20.

Resources

Sigma Tau Delta Journals
Journal Internship Description and How to Apply


Carolina VonKampen
Sigma Tau Delta Journal Internship Recipient, 2016
Rho Omicron Chapter, Chapter President
Concordia University, Nebraska, Seward, NE

A Superhero Fundraiser Idea

Fundraising is essential for productive chapter life, and with the Sigma Tau Delta 2017 International Convention just around the corner it is time to start raising travel funds for your chapter to attend. Asking strangers for money can be a daunting prospect, but with the right approach everyone can walk away feeling good about the experience. This spring the Wichita State University (WSU) chapter partnered with their local Barnes & Noble to host a successful superhero fundraiser.

Superhero Fundraiser

superhero-fundraiser-welcome-booth

Welcome Booth

In spring 2016 the Alpha Theta Omicron Chapter at WSU hosted its most memorable fundraiser to date. The chapter teamed up with the helpful staff of the local Barnes & Noble to throw a superhero book fair event, melding community involvement and family fun. From 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. customers were encouraged to wear an “I’m with Sigma Tau” nametag, and 10% of any purchase badge-wearing customers made that day was donated to the chapter fund. To capitalize on our superhero theme we also held a superhero reading for children, heroic emblem face painting, and a hero quest battle for superhero prizes. The superhero theme proved appealing to children of all ages, making for an inclusive and exciting event.

Superhero Selfi

Superhero Selfie

The Sigma Tau Delta booth was positioned at the entrance of the bookstore, an ideal location to greet and meet visitors. The name tags and the pencils and coupons from various local businesses proved to be our conversation starters and offered us an opportunity to educate people about the Society. Our selection of books displayed at the booth generated quite a few donations of these titles to our Wichita State Writing Center. To amp up the day’s superhero theme, the Barnes & Noble staff provided us with a “Superhero Selfie Station,” in which customers could don free superhero masks to take selfies in front of a cityscape background complete with stylized comic-book onomatopoeias.

Super Hero Fundraiser Booth

Superhero Fundraiser Booth

The theme of our superhero fundraiser spread throughout the store with strategically located hero quest stations where adventurers could answer superhero trivia to be entered in a drawing for superhero prizes. During the quest, participants could stop at the face painting station to pick from a selection of superhero emblems to be painted by one of our skilled volunteers who had practiced the previous day on our eager chapter members. The kids fell in love with their temporary “tattoos” and proudly displayed them to members at the entrance booth as they left the store.

In the afternoon, local author Mike Klassen hosted a book-signing booth next to ours. Klassen joined us in engaging a couple of curious young adults on how to become involved in English and creative writing careers. Aside from the superhero fun, holding these conversations with young readers serves as a reflection of what we subconsciously hoped to achieve with our disruption into customers’ Saturday morning: a declaration of our presence within the community and our desire to foster literacy and all aspects of the English discipline. Overall our fundraiser was a success, collecting enough funds to maintain our thriving organization for the upcoming semester, which was made possible by a joint effort from the book-loving (and superhero fan) community and our Sigma Tau Delta members.

Tell us about your chapter’s superhero fundraising efforts in the comments!

superhero-fundraiser-displayFundraising Resources

 


Superhero Fundraiser Victoria StewartVictoria Stewart
Chapter Treasurer
Alpha Theta Omicron Chapter
Wichita State University, Wichita, KS