Writing workshops teach broad spectrum of students to edit

Students from a variety of majors will be participating in a for-credit editing and publishing workshop run by visiting writers this week.

“It’s to give them a taste of what it means to put a magazine together,” said Peter Chilson, a Washington State University English professor.

The students will be meeting for three-hour workshop segments Monday through Thursday, focusing on editing. The two founding editors, Stephanie Lenox and H.K. Hummel, who published a purely digital literature magazine called “Blood Orange Review.”

“At the beginning it was to enhance the creative writing degree, so bringing in these visiting writers was a benefit for them, as well as a service for the University,” said Leisa McCormick, an English professor at WSU.

The workshop will give students practical exposure to the demands and realities of the publishing and editing world, Chilson said.

Visiting writers Lenox and Hummel will take the students through scenarios and the editing process magazines go through to create a publication.

“In the beginning, the creative writing series just focused on students majoring in creative writing, but in the past few years they really expanded it,” McCormick said.

She said that the number of students that attend the visiting writing series workshops has nearly doubled this semester over last semester.

“I’ve noticed a much greater expansion of students from different majors,” McCormick said. “Because of the increased interest, they’ve really expanded that offering.”

The English department has developed a 15 credit editing and publishing certificate that students from any major can attain, and the credit from this workshop can be put towards that certificate.

“We think of editing as a mobile skillset,” said Linda Russo, an English professor at WSU. “Every discipline needs editors and publishers to help communicate.”

The final part of the program is a panel of acclaimed writers and editors that will be in a round-table-style discussion of modern editing and publishing.

“We’re starting to really get some amazing momentum,” Chilson said.

In the three years since the English department has been hosting these workshops, they have experienced substantial growth and interest from a variety of majors, especially liberal arts and sciences.

“It’s a rapidly changing technological environment today,” Chilson said.

Chilson said that ten years ago, publishing work in any field online, especially literature was frowned upon, and that precedent has totally changed in the professional world.

Many respected mediums of publication now have online-only content and even separate blogs covering their specialty.

“What we try to do with our workshops, they touch on the literary journal so we can touch on the broad world of editing and publishing,” Chilson said.