This is the first in a series of four blog posts celebrating the launch of Issue 13 of Route 57, the University of Sheffield’s journal of creative writing. Our first post comes from Kristina Wearing.
Adam Piette began Route 57 as an online journal in 2006, taking submissions from the School of English. Eleven years later we have now published our thirteenth issue (and third beautiful print edition, pictured below) with some incredible pieces of writing from staff and students from all over the university.
This year I was privileged enough to be able to take part in the initial selection and editing process. This is done entirely by unpaid student and staff volunteers, who have worked tirelessly this year to bring us the most fantastic and typo-free creative writing Sheffield—and dare I say the world—has to offer.
I was one of the ten students that volunteered to edit the fiction section of this year’s issue, working under the steady leadership of Dr Alice Honor Gavin, who ensured we followed all of the Route 57 guidelines and succeeded in meeting those all-important deadlines. The submissions were all given to us anonymously, to ensure our impartiality. Some editors had also submitted pieces of their own, so Alice wisely split us, and the submissions, into two groups so that no one would have to select or edit their own work.
We were sent over 60 submissions for this section, and our group had 30 pieces to select from. Due to the limited space available in the printed issue we could only choose six pieces from our allotted 30. This is, of course, a difficult and highly subjective process. All of the submissions I read held promise and interested me in a unique way, yet I had to choose a piece that felt ready for publication. My personal selection was a piece called ‘Accountability’, by Aaron Saint John, and my favourite line—‘The missing punctuation hung in a curl of smoke’—has been illustrated by our incredible, imaginative designers at Go! Grafik and can be found on page 43 of the edition.
After our selections were made we began the editing process. This is slow and arduous work. Every comma must be correct. Every proper noun must be capitalised. Speech must be indented and em dashes must not be separated from the text with spaces. I found myself amazed at the mistakes that could make their way undetected through so many different stages of reading and re-reading. The main lesson I have learned from this process: it’s a lot harder than it looks.
Many thanks to all of the student and staff editors, who have worked hard to bring this year’s issue into the world, and a special thank you to the aforementioned Dr Alice Honor Gavin, as well as Dr Michael Kindellan, Dr Ágnes Lehóczky and Dr Rachel Zerihan who headed up the editing teams for the fiction, non-fiction, poetry and performance sections respectively. And, of course, we cannot forget to thank our general editor, Matthew Cheeseman, without whom Issue 13 would not exist.
Look out for the second blog post in this series next week for more on the book and working with our designers at Go! Grafik.
Route 57: Issue 13 is available now! You can buy the book, as well as prints and postcards featuring some of the amazing illustrations from Go! Grafik on our Indiegogo page.
You can also watch our promotional video, featuring the dulcet tones of Adam Piette.
Don’t forget to follow Route 57 on our various social media platforms, share our Indiegogo campaign to promote the book and take a look at our archive at route57.group.shef.ac.uk