by Dezmond Remington
Writers are famously loners, depicted in media as squirreled away in some dark cabin deep in the woods or confined to a cockroach-infested apartment. At the bare minimum, they’re often regarded as imprisoned in their own minds, victims of tortured genius that leaves them incapable of truly connecting with other people. The several dozen local writers who all showed up to socialize and enjoy the company of other writers at the ninth annual Author’s Celebration shows that isn’t always the case.
On Feb. 14 in the campus library, the Author’s Celebration provided an opportunity for every author who showed up to meet other writers and celebrate the craft. Attendants ranged from students such as Toyon’s acquisition editor Shelby Smith to the 86-year-old children’s book author Josephine Silva, who in the last year has published three books about teddy bears.
An especially notable attendant was Humboldt State alumni Meg Godlewski, the technical editor for Flying magazine and a flight instructor. She was a journalism student at HSU back in the ‘80s, focusing mainly on broadcast journalism, especially aviation-focused news. She was on air at KHSU in 1986 when the space shuttle Challenger exploded, breaking the news to Humboldt county. She did 10 years of broadcast journalism while she got her pilot’s license. She said living and going to school in Humboldt was one of her best life experiences.
“Living in Humboldt taught me how to look at the bigger picture,” Godlewski said. “I did a piece on finding healthcare in Humboldt county during the AIDS crisis that touched a lot of people. Every story you write reaches someone.”
Many speakers at the event spoke about the power of the Press at Cal Poly Humboldt, whose chief objective is to make sure those stories reach people. The Press is unique in the CSU system, said Provost Jenn Capps. Cal Poly Humboldt is the only library in the system that has a press. It published over 600 works in the last year.
“I thank students for becoming authors,” Capps said. “I thank the staff for nurturing them, and the alumni for their continued creativity. I commend you for your dedication, your talent, your voice on all disciplines on campus.”
Many of those published works come from students; according to Kyle Morgan, the scholarly communications librarian who helps run the press, students have contributed over 400 published works to the list over the years.
“All this is applied learning so [students] can use that knowledge to succeed in the world,” Morgan said. “All students should have a publication on their resume.”
Getting published can be hard. Many speakers commiserated about the often painful process that writing and publication can be. However, most of them also talked about the euphoria that comes from seeing your name in print.
“It’s a lot of work,” library Dean Cyril Oberlander said. “I wish I could say it was easy…but [that first publication] feels so great. Your voice matters…it profoundly and positively impacts the community.”
Alumnus and novelist Justin Paduganan agreed. For him, writing can also raise one’s self-esteem.
“Writing allows you to want more,” Paduganan said. “It allows you to be yourself in a higher fashion. When you publish something, you understand how powerful it is to start and finish something.”
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