Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Achieving the Satisfaction of Working with a Team

           I have been part of teams for numerous parts of my life.  For example, I was a member of the Academic Decathlon when I was in high school.  Being surrounded by intellectually gifted teenagers made me feel like I had a family that was outside of the one I was born into.  Unfortunately, a lot of the people I knew during my adolescence lost touch with me over time.  Therefore, it was truly a blessing to be able to be a part of another team during my time as an undergraduate transfer student at California State University—Los Angeles.  That team is the Statement Magazine staff, and it is truly a blessing to be a part of that group.
            The work that I had put into Statement Magazine culminated into one glorious night on May 28, 2015.  At first, I became interested in literary publication when I was a student at Pasadena City College.  There was a literary magazine at that campus known as Inscape Magazine.  As a creative writer during my spare time, I composed poems and short stories that were, unfortunately, rejected for publication.  The following year, I joined the Inscape Magazine editorial staff, and ended up having one of the most remarkable learning experiences in my life.  I submitted two poems while also serving as an editor, and luckily, one of the poems was eventually published.  That poem was entitled, “The Ballad of Benjamin Button.”  My adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic short story as I poem that I wrote enchanted the other editors, and I felt amazing when I saw my poem published in the 2013 edition of Inscape Magazine.
            An even more interesting story was the fate of the second poem that I submitted that year.  The other poem was called, “Au Revoir, Mon Amour.”  It was obviously a trite poem about love, and the other Inscape editors absolutely abhorred it.  After my self-esteem lessened while hearing their criticism about my poem, I was initially devastated.  Later on, though, I became glad that such an experience happened because hearing their criticism made me realize that writing does not need to follow any standards.  I ultimately learned that creative writing really is just that—creative.  Having that newfound knowledge inspired me to learn more about publication, and that desire prompted me to contact Dr. Ramey when I found out that California State University—Los Angeles had a literary magazine entitled Statement Magazine.
            The journey between my days at Pasadena City College and the night of the Statement Magazine launch is a remarkable story within itself.  During my first year as a transfer student at California State University—Los Angeles, I did my best to assist the Statement Magazine staff in spite of my own personal health issues.  I also wanted to be an editor that year, but my health created complications.  That meant that I was only able to help out whenever I was not in medical appointments.  As my health improved, however, my schedule became more flexible, and I was glad to have finally been able to serve as one of the editors for Statement Magazine.  Hoping to have creative work published once again, I submitted four pieces of writing.  Unfortunately, the staff rejected all of my work.  Nevertheless, I gained a new learning experience while serving as an editor for Statement Magazine, and that was realizing that the creative world is extremely competitive.  I also realized that I am not the best writer in the world, but I am willing to acknowledge the fact that at least I made an honest attempt when I submitted my work.  I might not be as talented as Jane Austen, but I can still strive to be at my own personal best rather than wallow away in self-pity.
            More importantly, though, I realized that while I was at the launch, I became part of another team again.  I had become a part of the literary community at California State University—Los Angeles.  In fact, having my name listed under the “Editorial Staff” list made me feel proud of myself because I really did take time out of my personal life in order to create this work of art.  None of my own personal work had made it into the magazine, but I can still congratulate myself for putting in the effort in order to create the 65th anniversary edition of Statement Magazine.  I have undoubtedly contributed to the legacy of Statement Magazine, and my name, “Alex Phuong,” will remain on the book jacket of that edition of the magazine forevermore.  Not a lot of people can say that their name is on a book jacket, but at least I can.
            Finally, all I can say in response to the Statement Magazine launch is that it was a wonderful evening.  I was able to hear creative work read aloud, spend time with my friends, and even enjoy two pieces of cake.  I might not have been published in the magazine itself, but at least I can still congratulate myself for helping produce it.  In fact, I must admit that I never took Statement Magazine as a class.  Honestly, the only reason why I decided to help out the Statement Magazine staff is because I genuinely want to do that out of the goodness of my own heart.  Therefore, I must admit that I am truly blessed to have been able to have such a remarkable experience, and that I was able to relish that extraordinary journey that culminated to that one special night.  That night had already passed, but I can still do my best to remember that night even as my memory fades over time.  Finally, it is impossible to remember everything that happened during the night of the Statement Magazine launch, but it is possible to remember that the entire night was completely beautiful.  All I can say is that I wanted to learn more about publication, and I ended up being a tremendous help.  My sincerest hope is that other students would contribute to the growing legacy of Statement Magazine for future generations to come.

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