If you check out the latest issue of Kootenay Mountain Culture you’ll find work from four L.V. Rogers students: Simon Hradil-Kasseckert, Akiah Tromans, Arianna Murphy Steed and Emily Hoff. For most, this will be their first byline.
“The difference between practicing in class and an opportunity like this is that in class you never end up with a final product, but this experience took us on a journey from the first draft all the way to completion,” said Hradil Kesseckert, who wrote a review of photographer Chuck Haney’s work.
He jumped at the opportunity when his teacher Kari Kroker announced that KMC was looking for contributors, as did his three classmates, and they attended lunch-hour workshops where editor Tara Cunningham taught them about interviewing and led them through writing exercises.”
“This was an opportunity to do something I don’t usually do, because I’m normally a maths person, and it’s been a super cool experience to go through the editorial process and learn how everything works,” said Hradil Kesseckert. “This is a huge accomplishment for me.”
He got a lesson in concision when editor Tara Cunningham walked him through the process of cutting his review down from 400 words to approximately 225. It’s an experience each student went through, mostly for the first time.
“When you’re writing something for yourself you always think it’s perfect, but then you show it to someone else and there’s all this stuff that flew over your head,” said Tromans, who wrote a web-exclusive piece about a trip to Vietnam.
Tromans said this has been an opportunity to explore a potential future career, as he hopes to travel and write about his idiosyncratic experiences — in this case, a bizarre encounter at a family resort on Monkey Island.
“I basically recalled my experience because it’s vivid still. It’s so cool that I get to share one of my own stories,” he said.
Hoff is similarly thrilled. Having already published poetry in literary anthologies and performed an environmentally-themed piece for Nelson city council a few years ago, the Ymir teenager decided to try her hand at non-fiction and wrote about an unusual subject: the local picnic table.
“I feel this connection with it. I met someone there, and so many Ymirians spend time there drinking beer and smoking by the Salmo River. It’s a place I feel comfortable in, it’s sheltered. Everyone in Ymir knows what you’re talking about when you mention the picnic table.”
Murphy Steed, meanwhile, reviewed writer Eileen Delahanty Pearkes’ latest book, The Heart of a River.
“It’s sort of written as a children’s book, but there’s content relevant to adults as well,” said Murphy Steed. “It was interesting trying to write a book review, because I’d never done one before, so I went online and read a bunch of reviews to see how they work.”
She loved collaborating with an editor.
“I was expecting a lot to change and work on, and that expectation was met. But I love editing and having people edit my work. It’s super fun. Tara saw things in my work I never would’ve seen.”
Cunningham was effusive about the students’ work.
“I was amazed by their creativity and professionalism. These guys are all 17 or 18, and I’ve worked with a lot of different writers over the years, but their willingness to be edited and their excitement to get better just blew me away.”
The most important takeaway for the students?
“Editors are not the enemy. In fact, your editor is your advocate.”
The new issue of Kootenay Mountain Culture is available now, and also features Star reporter Will Johnson’s story “Animals Don’t Have Souls.”