Chatham publications host "Write Away" Q&A event

On Tuesday, March 24, the three publications at Chatham–Minor Bird, Communique, and Her Campus–hosted an event intended to help student writers learn how to navigate the literary world that exists outside of the campus community. The event, cleverly named Write Away, featured Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editor, columnist, and Chatham professor Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Clarece Polke, and non-fiction editor of “Lime Hawk Journal” and professor Lorena Williams. It was led by Communique Editor-in-Chief Indigo Baloch.

This event was the second of its kind held this semester. Writer’s Bootcamp, a panel featuring the editors from the three campus publications, was held in February to inform students of the publishing opportunities that they could take advantage of while being a student. Write Away differed in that it allowed students to ask professional Pittsburgh writers questions about how to get published in “the real world.”

True to Chatham tradition, the event was moderately attended. Those students who did attend found themselves in a position to hear what was said and ask questions ranging from how got the panelists started in their own careers to how to handle feelings of anxiety and rejection. The panelists also made a point to touch on the importance of a process that many students find to be difficult to get used to: networking.

All three panelists helped to create a road map for students to follow. Williams discussed how important it is to get out in the world and attend literary events. Small bookstores, like Amazing Books in Squirrel Hill, often host readings for local writers.

“These events are great places to meet local authors,” said Williams.

Norman followed up with, “Hand out your [business] card. If you don’t have one, get one.”

The panelists also emphasized the importance of getting involved in on campus publications.

“This is where you build the foundation,” Williams said when a student asked how to get started.

“Here is where you have the support,” Polke stated, with Baloch explaining that, “Here at Chatham, we want to help you to become a better writer. We work with you so you can grow, and we show you what you can change. That doesn’t happen in the real world.”

Also discussed were potential job opportunities out there for students. Minor Bird editor Kaitlyn Lacey asked panelists what job opportunities existed in the fields of magazines, newspapers, and literary journal publications for editors. To which everyone noted that such positions started right here on campus, but networking at literary events was equally important.

“When editor positions come up,” Williams responded, “We look first at people we know.”

The highlight of the event came at the end with an uplifting speech from Norman, encouraging all students who want to have a career in writing to take advantage of the opportunities provided at Chatham.

“Make your anxiety work for you,” he suggested. “Use it to provide the fuel for your passion.”