“[The submissions] trickled in slowly at first, so we weren't quite sure what to expect,” Hartman said. “The submissions continued to flow in, and I remember Angel and I going back and forth guessing what our total number would be. She guessed 100, I believe, and I was optimistically hoping for 125. I knew we'd have a rush of submissions the last day or so, but we were not prepared for just how many we'd get. I was partly shocked when we clocked in at over 200, but most of me was just proud of us.”
For Winchester, making changes to the magazine itself was an essential factor in pulling in submissions this year. Along with changes to the design of the magazine, Winchester and Hartman also agreed to forgo a theme in order to capture a larger group of student artists.
“When talking to other Honors students about Odyssey, many said that they didn’t submit to past issues because they weren’t sure if their art was good enough or if it fit the theme. So for this year’s issue, Allie and I tried to be very transparent with our artists about the submissions and review process. We chose not to have a theme this year and told students to submit as many things as they wished,” Winchester said.
Along with Winchester and Hartman’s efforts to promote the magazine through e-mail blasts and fliers, they say that Honors College Dean Dr. John Emert excitedly talked to students about Odyssey as well—especially to the freshman class. Winchester speculates that this is the reason they received most of their submission from first-year students.
“In the future, I'd love to see a more even spread of submissions from different grade levels, but I'm glad so many freshmen are getting involved and putting their work out there early on,” Hartman said.
With so many submissions to choose from, the editing team had to make a plan in order to make decisions in a fair way. They formed a committee consisting of a variety of majors in order to make the process more fair. With input from English, classical cultures, art, and computer science majors, they decided on the 104 pieces that readers will get to see in the upcoming issue. Hartman said that while many of the pieces were decided on unanimously, there were some heated debates within the committee on a few of the submissions.
“The process of selecting which pieces to publish was honestly the most challenging part of the entire project. We had so many incredible submissions, but we knew there was no way we could include all of them,” Hartman said.
Sophomore Ben Sapet, who worked as part of the review board, says that he was surprised by the personal nature of the art submitted by students.
“Many of the submissions were almost startlingly open about very personal issues. This may speak to the therapeutic nature of creating. Whether those very personal submissions were included or not, we were impressed at their emotional honesty, and we were glad to have provided a destination for those feelings and the art they’re bound up in,” Sapet said.
These student creations took many different forms, including sculptures, woodcut prints, poetry, short stories, and paintings. The medium of some submissions could not be incorporated into the magazine, but the co-editors still found a way for these types of pieces to be represented.
“We did receive a few video submissions too. While Odyssey is not quite ready to include multimedia into our printed magazine, we are going to publish the scripts,” Winchester says.
As they prepare for Odyssey’s publication in late April, Winchester and Hartman remain optimistic about the future of the magazine.
“I think that if future editors are dedicated and actively engaging the Honors community to promote the magazine, that the large number of submissions could be a regular occurrence. But you can’t just sit back and wait for them to roll in, you have to work for it,” Winchester said.