Get to Know James

By Yvette Beltran

How does one get to know someone that they do not necessarily know? Well one can conduct an interview, kidnap them, or ask thru text. Well, even though the second one is very intriguing to do I decided to do a mix of the first and three options to get to know a little bit more about James. He also responds to the names of Jim, Jesse, and other varies names. James is a third year writing major that is on two sports of cross country and track and field. As you guys can tell he likes to run. Also, he is from the city of Chicago not like some of you “posers” out there *cough cough* saying you are from Chicago when you are from the suburbs. Anyways, James main job that he does for our magazine 30N he is the head coordinator for all our social media platforms. His focus is to ensure that our Instagram page is always updated with the latest things such showing off the lovely individuals we have on staff, updates on the journal and other things that we are crafting here at 30N.  

When asked what individuals have sparked his vision on social media post. James mentioned, one of his key inspirations to become the social media coordinator is his lovely girlfriend that is the president of the NOW (National Organization for Women) club on campus. He saw how she used her creative side to make posts about her organization, and it sparked his interest that he could do something similar for 30N. One can truly see the work that being put into the social media posts for 30N. James said he “truly enjoys crafting posts that show off the amazing staff of 30N and the amazing things we are crafting for the community of North Central College to see.” For him, this was something new crafting social media posts and showing it off to the world and surely it can be a very scary process, but so far if you check out our Instagram @30n_ncc you see the amazing posts James has crafted so far. A tip that James wants to mention to anyone that is trying out something new for the first time “everything is going to be okay and to take things one step at a time and always ask for feedback.” Well, that is a wrap on getting to know a bit about James who is cooking up a mean breakfast skillet right now. 

  • 30 N Staff

Rejection ≠ Bad Writing

By Hannah Pruett

Getting a rejection letter can be discouraging, but this doesn’t automatically mean that you are a bad writer. At 30 North, we don’t read a piece and immediately decide that we don’t want it. We have many in depth conversations on whether or not a piece would be a good fit for our journal. It can be hard to say no to a talented writer, but there are other factors we must take into consideration.  

Here is a list of reasons why a piece may have been rejected: 

  1. The piece doesn’t have the right audience for 30 North. 

While we may have loved a piece, it might not have been the right fit for 30 North. When reading pieces, we consider our audience and if they would enjoy it. Writing is subjective, and not every reader will enjoy a piece. The genre or subject matter may only be enjoyable to a specific set of readers. In these cases, the piece would be better suited in another journal.  

  1. The piece is similar to a previously accepted piece 

At 30 North, we like to accept pieces that are doing different things. This doesn’t mean that your piece isn’t unique; we want to give every piece the credit and attention it deserves. We want the piece to stand out in the journal without being overshadowed by a similar piece.  

  1. Timing  

30 North is a student run publication with a small staff. This may not be the case for all journals, but we are working on tight deadlines, and unfortunately, we may have to reject a piece if it would require a lot of correspondence with the author. If a piece requires lengthy conversations about suggestions, questions, or edits, we cannot guarantee that everything will be completed in time. We want a piece to be published in its best state, and sometimes we just need more time.  

  1. The edits would not stay true to the author’s work 

Many of the pieces we reject fall into this category. We may love a piece and see its potential, but it’s not yet developed enough for publication. We want the piece to stay true to the author’s intentions and vision, and it’s difficult to suggest substantial changes without compromising that goal. 

Don’t feel discouraged after getting a rejection letter. There are a lot of factors impacting our decisions and we strive to make the best decision not only for our publication, but for the author as well. We would love to read more of your work in the future! 

-30 North Staff 

Adventures in Space

By Courtland Anderson

There seems to be this stereotype of writers and other creative types,  “I wake up every morning at 7am, take a morning walk through the woods outside my tiny cabin before sipping my coffee and reading the paper, all in preparation for writing today’s piece,” which is not always the case. That process is, of course, right for someone out there somewhere and if that person is you, congratulations, you found your system. For the rest of us, though, finding a space to sit down and write can be a difficult task.  

There seems to be a pair of sliding scales used to determine what you might like in a writing space. These two axes are Comfort and Privacy. There are other aspects, but these two factors seem to be very important to most writers.  

The stereotypical writer, and those like them, would be on the High Comfort and high Privacy side. They prefer to be in a place all by themselves, not interrupted by any other people or things that would distract them from their work. This may manifest in them writing in their office, on their bed, their local library; some place where they know they can write peacefully. They also prefer high comfort, which often takes the form of comfy clothes, a cup of hot coffee or tea, a long afternoon with nothing else to stress about, and so on. 

On the very opposite end of the scale, there are people like me: the low Comfort and low Privacy people. These writers enjoy crowded spaces, perhaps spaces not even intended for writing. These are the people you find in a coffee shop or on a bench at the park, places that may be peaceful, but still have people all around. It may be difficult to grasp the idea of discomfort as a writing catalyst, but it’s true. In my experience, I find that I do my best work when I’m stressed about a deadline or am not quite as comfy as I could be. It keeps me sharp; it keeps me thinking. It allows me to always be engaging with what I’m going to write next. This discomfort may manifest as a heavy pair of shoes, a chair with maybe not enough lumbar support, a time frame that doesn’t quite allow you to sit and reflect as much as you could.  

This is not an encouragement to slack off, mind, it is simply an acknowledgment of a system that could work, and has worked for many writers. What’s important is that you find where you land on this scale, and choose your environment appropriately. Maybe experiment with different spaces next time you write. Instead of going to that coffee shop, try cozying up in bed or on the couch. Instead of those lo-fi beats, tune into some heavy metal instead. It’s all about what works for you. 

-30 N Staff

30 North Submission Process

By Jim McGlashon

Have you ever wondered what it takes to make it into the highly esteemed, critically acclaimed,100-time award winning magazine known as 30 North?  

Well, you’re in luck because we’re taking you awesome fans behind the scenes to see how the sausage is made! 

It starts with you: a hungry, aspiring writer, or casual writer who decides to share their dabbles in the mystic literary arts with a small college magazine. You submit your beautiful work to our submittable and then your work is in the ether!  

Dr. Stafford, our professor leading the magazine, filters through the submissions based on a certain criteria. Once past the first set of eyes in the vetting process, all the student members within 30 North proceed to proofread different literary genres of submissions. 

Essentially, our staff is looking for coherent, compelling, and relatable pieces that the 30 North audience would enjoy reading. Personal creative fiction or poems often strike the deepest chord with readers, including our very own staff.  

Within Submittable, our staff will rate the pieces with a thumbs up or down as an indicator of whether it should continue or not. Individually, we provide feedback as to why we gave a certain rating, consisting of our thoughts about how well it would fit within the aesthetic of our magazine, if it was easy to follow without jeopardizing complexity and intrigue, if we think the audience would enjoy this read, etc. The same goes for photographs or art submitted to 30 North; however, artists and writers will often submit multiple stories or works of art within one submission, and we might only find that 1 or 2 pieces within the sample are a good fit for the magazine.  

After our personal opinions on a submission are given, we collectively vocalize our thoughts and opinions about each piece. Some pieces have an overwhelming positive or dissatisfaction amongst the staff, whilst others can be more difficult to decide if the group is more evenly split on the worthiness of a submission.  

It often results in a bloodbath of gladiator matches as to who’s perspective is more valid, defending their favored submissions with their dying breath. It’s quite tragic-fatally losing approximately two or three staff members per week. Aye, 30 North lives on! 

Once we have approved your work, you’ll get a lovely written acceptance email, declaring our acceptance of your work, and sometimes asking for some edits for a final piece to be included in the magazine. Just like that, your literary dabble has instantly sprouted into the amazingly published butterfly that will fly all about in the 30 North Magazine!  

  • 30 N Staff 

On Creating Characters

By Katie Minelli

One of my favorite parts of writing fiction is character creation. Despite this, it isn’t always easy to create fully formed characters. Here are a couple methods I and other writers use to fully understand our characters. 

First, I’d like to introduce a method my friend Zoe told me she enjoys: finding a Zodiac sign for her characters. Zodiac signs can get really detailed in terms of personality, habits, and flaws, so they can be a great tool for ‘discovering’ many facets of your character. You also get a specific window of time for a birthday as a bonus. 

If Zodiac signs aren’t your thing, there’s other methods you could employ. Something I really like to do is ask myself questions that would enable me to learn more about my character that have nothing to do with the story surrounding them.  

What’s their favorite color?  

What’s their favorite food?  

What does their everyday diet look like?  

What’s their favorite hobby?  

If they drink, what’s their favorite alcohol/cocktail? 

What’s their favorite outfit look like? 

Questions like these may seem pointless, but they will help you develop a full-fledged personality, and the answers to these questions might lead you to some information that directly impacts the story. 

A fellow 30 Norther, Hannah, told me about something they like to do after figuring out their personalities. They create Pinterest boards designed for specific characters. “I like to get a sense of their aesthetic and have a collection of pictures of who they are because I am a visual person. Plus, it’s fun and makes it seem like they are a real person,” Hannah said. 

Another thing you could do is write little snippets of your character interacting with a person or archetype not from your story. Don’t overthink it; just write what comes to you. If your character’s actions and reactions in the scenario feel right, then voila! Actions speak louder than words, so this is a great way to discover how your character feels about things and their temperament. 

There’s more than one way to develop a character, so don’t be afraid to try new things. You might even find some of your own ways to ‘discover’ your characters. Above all things, remember to have fun and find ways to enjoy the process. 

-30 N staff

Design Lab Collab

By Grace Harty

On September 21st, during week 5, we sat down with two graphic designers from the Design Lab to discuss aesthetics for our upcoming journal. However, before meeting with them, we had to make sure we were all on the same page regarding what we wanted our journal to look like. Professor Stafford gave us all multiple reminders to get the conversation started after a week of failing to do so.  

After some discussion, we decided that we liked the color scheme of VQR’s Summer Fiction cover. We decided that the simplistic design along with fall colors would help us capture our wants for the journal. While sitting down with the two graphic designers, we talked about our want for a simplistic design that was easy on the eyes. Specifically, we wanted our journal’s dimensions to be a bit on the thicker side rather than long and thin like others.  

After our aesthetic conversation, during week 9 we checked back in with the Design Lab to let them know how many pieces will be included in our upcoming journal. We discussed that we will have 18 pieces divided into our 4 original categories: nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and art. It is now week 12 and Design Lab has sent us the draft of the complete layout of how the journal will look.  

We obviously cannot share the specifics with you, but make sure to keep an eye out for our finished product! The designers stayed true to our wants and gave us a great layout. It is so interesting to see our ideas come to life in front of us. We loved working with Design Lab to get a taste of how other literary journals are made, they have been a great team to work with! 

As a whole, 30N is so excited to share our hard work with all of our readers.

-30 N staff   

Overcoming the Fear of Submitting

By Maggie Dooley

Picture this: you’ve spent every hour of free time over the last few months perfecting your masterpiece. You’ve written, you’ve re-written, edited, and jotted down ideas on the train, in waiting rooms, and in the middle of the night. You’re proud of the work you’ve created– now what? 

If you’re anything like me, it will now sit, untouched, in the files of your computer like a receipt tossed into a junk drawer. It’s understandable. When we create, we put a piece of ourselves down on paper, and sharing that means we are opening ourselves up to be vulnerable, whether we want to or not. Sharing our work can feel like giving a part of our heart away to the reader, and it can be a daunting idea. Unfortunately, there is no secret to working up the nerve. There’s no magic way of knowing when it’s ready to be shared, and you won’t have some epiphany telling you exactly who to send it to and when. You just have to rip off the band aid and be brave. 

Easier said than done, I know.  

We often think about getting our work out there in terms of submitting it. Whether that be to an online or print journal, finding an agent and sending it to publishers, or even going the self-publishing route. These can be daunting ideas and may have the power to scare us away, no matter how proud we are of what we have created. In the age of social media, simply sharing a TikTok or Instagram post showing off what you’ve written can be just as beneficial, and a lot less daring of a task. It gives the opportunity to be more anonymous, if that makes you more comfortable, and also allows you to share with a group of people who can give real advice and appreciate the effort you’ve put in. Another way to share work without feeling like you’re going to go into full-blown panic attack mode is to talk to a friend or family member that you trust. They may not give the most unbiased advice, given that most good friends or family don’t want to outright hurt our feelings, but as the things we put down on the page often come from a deeper part of ourselves, it can feel more comforting knowing that the first person who will be judging is someone who already knows that part of you.  

In the end, how and when you share what you’ve created is up to you. It can stay hidden away forever, or you could be the next Susanne Collins or Stephen King. Before you share, all you can do is make sure you’ve created something you would be proud to put your name on, and be proud of yourself for finding the courage to hit send on it, whoever and wherever it may be going.  

-30 N staff

Coping with Rejection

By Elizabeth Morris

For the very first time, around the end of October, 2022, I submitted a short story for an on-campus writing competition. The event was focused around the genre horror, so of course the competition was on who can submit the spookiest story. How convenient since at the time, all I had been writing were short horror stories for my thesis project. So, I picked my favorite, polished it up, and sent it (hesitantly) in.  

The week following the submission deadline and the day of the event were excruciating. I craved this win so bad, as if it were the single most important thing to validate my status as a writer. I’ve never had anything published, nor have I ever submitted anything for a competition. Being an English major, I felt the pressure to get some sort of recognition for my writing so that in my brain and hopefully in the brains around me, I would be seen as a ‘real writer’.  

The day of the competition arrives and dread has officially started to make me feel physically ill. My jaw hurt from clenching it, the insides of my cheeks were chewed raw, and I felt so queasy, I forgot to eat. I remember telling myself on the ride to campus, “I don’t care if I lose this competition, I’m proud of my work”. But deep down I knew no matter how much I reassured myself, the pain from losing would be much more powerful than the fabricated cheery thoughts in my head.  

I didn’t win and much to my surprise I wasn’t sad, I was pissed. All this hard work and for what? I took a lap around campus and waited for the appointment I had with my thesis advisor. The walk I took gave me ample time to collect my thoughts and to neatly plan the rant I needed to unleash.  

Getting into this meeting, I told my thesis advisor of the complete injustice I felt. The negative thoughts were blinding, but luckily voicing out my frustrations was the most important thing I could have done. To lose a competition on a piece of writing you worked hard on is soul crushing and to fester in the anger or sadness by yourself makes the loss seem even bigger. But after I talked to a trusted professor, that also believes in my skills as a writer, the loss became small. By the end of the meeting, the loss was crumpled up and thrown away. Taking that extra step to be vulnerable in an already very vulnerable state, made all the difference. Instead of going home and sulking around alone, I expressed my anger and turned it into motivation. Rejection comes with being a writer. It’s the unfortunate truth, but we can’t let one single loss prevent us from sharing all of the great stories we have to share.  

-30 N staff

On Our Submission Process

Once you’ve pressed ‘submit,’ it’s easy to imagine your work as floating in the ether. It exists in a state of limbo, haunting your inbox until finally, you have your answer: accepted or rejected. 

The whims of editors can seem cruel and arbitrary, but, believe it or not, we do have a process! It’s always complicated, choosing whether a piece makes it into 30 North; the staff has to account for each other’s tastes. Some of us love poetry. Some of us love fiction. Some of us love angst. Some of us love lighthearted stuff. As a result, the intra-staff dialogue tends to lean on the subjective aspects of art, and there’s a lot of back-and-forth convincing when opinions are split.

The magazine has given us great freedom to look at a lot of genres for submissions. We’re pretty fluid, in that respect. In lieu of hard guidelines, we usually review with four qualities in mind: intentionality, originality, cohesion, and style. We look for art that seizes our attention and runs with it, as well as pieces that can work with as little outside influence from us as possible. We’ve had important discussions about content warnings and triggers, always with the reader in mind.

If there’s a single, important inkling of knowledge I can impart about our editing process is that the final judgment is never made lightly. All of us are reading your pieces carefully before making decisions. If you’re intimidated at the prospect of a lot of people reading your stuff, take solace in knowing that the staff of 30 North is handling it gently. At the risk of diluting the artist’s original vision, we dislike making hefty edits (beyond clean-up), and in the rare case that we would need something changed, we’ll reach out to that submitter.

In the immortal words of Oz, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” 30 North is driven by you! The artists, the writers, and every niche in between. Stay creating, friends.

-30 N staff

Interview with Kimberly Garrett Brown

On September 20, North Central College and 30 North were honored to receive author Kimberly Garrett Brown as a speaker, as she shed some light on the process of writing, editing, and publishing her new book, Cora’s Kitchen. The staff of 30 North interviewed Brown for a half hour, before she was set to read a passage from the just-released novel in Kiekhofer Hall’s Koten Chapel.

We kicked off the interview by asking about her experience with her publisher, Inanna Publications; in particular, we wanted to know if Brown had to make any significant alterations to her manuscript before it could be sent out into the world.

“There were a lot of edits,” Brown said, “I’m not gonna call them ‘changes,’ because I feel like they were more ‘enhancements.’ Think of a draft or a manuscript like a painting; if you think about a painting, it starts out as a sketch. In the sketching process, you’re erasing […] and when you pull your paints out, you’re starting to do different things. The last edit is best described as an enhancement.”

She described a feeling of being overwhelmed after looking at the suggested edits sent back to her draft. “Each time you do a revision, it’s about expanding or growing that scene, or that character, or planting things. […] As you do that, it will ruin you for reading other books, because you’ll start to see it,” she added with a laugh.

We asked Brown what she felt was the most difficult part of the writing and publishing process. 

“Rejections,” she answered succinctly. “Stephen King, Annie Lamott, they can tell you they’ve been rejected and you’re like ‘Mmhm. Okay, sure.’ It hurts every time, it really does.”

She spoke candidly about individual accounts of rejection. Some were quick. Some were tedious. Some even dangled some false hope before being unceremoniously crushed. She described the emergence of an inner critic alongside the rejections, a doubt that made her question the strength of her work. Still, Brown stressed more than anything, “You have to keep doing it.”

The bitter taste of rejection, however, did little to sully Brown’s love for the craft. She told us about the piles of journals in her house, piles that touched the ceiling. The process of writing sometimes seemed tedious from the outset, but once she found momentum in her desk, the words flowed.

As the interview went on, Brown covered much ground with the staff of 30 North in matters personal and professional. Discussing the content of her novel, which takes place in the 1920s, she professed her love for the Harlem Renaissance, particularly the work of the poet Langston Hughes, who has a major presence in Cora’s Kitchen. The drafting stage would see her unearth much more of the history behind the period, but from the outset, she knew what she wanted to write. “I knew when I started the novel that I wanted it to be during that time, but I hadn’t done the research to understand it more,” Brown said. “I just loved that time.”

Kimberly Garrett Brown is a published author whose fiction and non-fiction work has appeared in publications such as Anthology Askew, The Rumpus, and Compass Magazine. Her most recent novel, Cora’s Kitchen, is available from Barnes & Noble and Anderson’s Bookshop.

-30 N staff