Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
placeholder article
placeholder article

Kaitlyn Lacey, Editor of Chatham’s “Minor Bird” Literary Magazine

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Chatham chapter.

Kaitlyn Lacey is a storyteller. Studying Creative Writing and Visual Arts, she drafts plenty of her own work. But as Editor of the Minor Bird, Chatham’s literary magazine, she’s shaping the narrative of a moment in time: the thoughts, ideas and fears of undergrads in 2014/2015. Long after she’s flipped the tassel on her mortarboard, the two editions of Minor Bird crafted under her leadership will remain a tangible, meaningful part of Chatham’s history.

HC Chatham: Why did you choose Chatham?

Kaitlyn Lacey: It was a combination of recommendations about the Creative Writing program and the fact that two of my aunts (Aunt and Great-aunt) … attended Chatham in the past that made me pick Chatham.

What are you studying at Chatham? Why did you choose it?

I’m currently studying Creative Writing and Visual Arts: Studio Arts. I initially was only studying Creative Writing, because I’ve always had a passion for writing and been able to produce it fairly well. I picked up Art after finishing most of the courses I needed for my Creative Writing major because while writing has always been my number one way to express myself, art has always come in a close second.

How has Chatham helped you grow as a writer?

By attending Chatham, I have been able to take classes specifically designed to help me grow as a writer. I now know so many more talented people than I did before, who by either reading their writing or with their teaching, I’ve been able to refine my own work. My worldview has also expanded, and I now have access to knowledge and points of view I had either been closed off from or not known existed before.

Aside from Minor Bird, what are you involved in outside of classes?

I’m a proud member of the Drama Club, though with my current workload I’m not going to be able to act in the next few performances. I hope I can at least get to work as a tech person on a show before I graduate. I’m also a member of the Creative Writing Club and the Artist Collective.

How did you get involved with Minor Bird? 
For those who are new to campus, what is it?

I started last year as both a submitter and part of the Editorial Board. I was friends with the previous Editor and Assistant Editor, and they both convinced me that I was actually skilled enough to do so. Before that, my self-doubt held me back. I guess I was much better than I thought because last spring I was appointed Editor.

For those who don’t know, the Minor Bird is Chatham University’s undergraduate student literary magazine. Undergraduate students comprise both the submitters and the editorial board, who vote on the work that is sent in. The works that are selected are published both in print form and on the Minor Bird website. It is published twice a year, once in the Fall and once in the Spring semester. Any undergraduate student enrolled at Chatham can submit artwork or writing, no matter what their major. And take it from me – you are probably better than you know, and it doesn’t hurt to submit.

Why did you choose to pursue a leadership position?

I love to help people develop their writing. Though I don’t always have the technical explanation right away, I have a good eye for what does and doesn’t work in a piece. I also fell in love with the Minor Bird. The submissions, the editing process, the people involved in the publication— I fell in love with it all. To help create such a quality journal is truly a fantastic feeling. And I wanted to continue that work, to get more people to submit so that we could publish even bigger volumes of the excellent work I know is saved on someone’s hard drive or waiting to be created in the subconscious of another’s mind.

What do you love most about being a part of Minor Bird?

This is a hard one. To cheat I would say all of it. Really thinking about it, I would have to say it’s the satisfaction of reading the really great poems and prose that get submitted. After getting lost in the writer’s work, I emerge with excitement, knowing that that piece is golden and will be published. Even if the board still has to vote, it’s clear that that piece will get in. Not only does the writer get the recognition they deserve, but the rest of the campus will then get to be able to experience the magic of that piece as well.

Many people are shy about sharing their creative work. What advice do you have for students who would love to submit their art or writing for a future edition but are worried it won’t be good enough?

My advice is to submit. Even if you don’t have people in your life telling you how good your writing is (which you probably do, you just might not be able to hear or believe them), that nagging self-doubt is part of every good writer’s waking nightmare. It’s part of what makes all of us better when we go in and revise, rewrite, or even give up and write a new piece. But sometimes, we let it get bigger than it should be, either by listening to the inaccurate opinions of others or just by spending too much time in our own heads comparing our writing to someone else’s.

If you do end up getting a rejection email, it’s usually because a piece isn’t fully polished. The editorial board can see its potential, but it hasn’t been taken as far as you can go with it. What they want is not for you to give up. What they want is for you to take it back, look it over, see what they saw in your writing or artwork, and take it just that one step further. They want to see your pieces again so they can publish them when they’re at their fullest potential.

Why do you love writing?

I love to write because I love to tell stories. I love to tell stories because I love making them up. Reading and making up stories kept me going through some really tough (to say the least) situations growing up. And because the stories were there, I want to be able to share my own with others in similar situations.

Speed Round!

If you could assign everyone on campus one book to read, which would it be and why?

Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones. It plays on the fairy tale trope of destinies being determined by order of birth (eldest being the most unlucky, and youngest ending up the largest success), and has a cast of hilariously snarky and well-developed characters. Also it has inter-dimensional travel from the magic kingdom of Ingary to 1980s Wales.

Suppose you could get one author to give you personal, heartfelt advice for the rest of your life. Who would you choose and why?

Tamora Pierce, though I’m not sure if it counts because I’ve met her before. Her writing was primarily what I took strength from growing up, and I want to be able to give that strength to someone else.

Which book made you laugh the loudest?

Probably The House of Many Ways by Dianna Wynne Jones, which is the third book in the Howl series. To tell you why would be massive spoilers, but let’s just say that Howl’s antics only continue after the first book in the series, and the amount of times Sophie is done with putting up with them.

Which book made you cry the hardest?

Honestly I think it was Inheritance by Christopher Paolini. Because dragons. Again, I’m only giving a vague reason because of spoilers.

Of all the writing/English courses you’ve taken at Chatham, which one do you think everyone should take before they graduate?

Dr. Bruckner’s first-year seminar on speculative fiction. And if you can’t get into that one, I suggest you take any course she offers on science fiction/fantasy. Each is an incredibly wild ride with fantastic selections. That could be my genre preference talking, but maybe you should find out for yourself.

If you could collaborate with one writer, who would it be and why?

I’m going to cheat here and say either Tamora Pierce or Hayao Miyazaki. I would want to work with Pierce for the reasons I stated earlier, and for Miyazaki, all of his films and his manga series are awe-inspiring. Each one makes you re-examine the world around you after watching it (or reading it in the case of the Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind manga series). 

Learn more about Minor Bird, read past issues and find out how you can submit your work for a future edition by visiting their website.

  Mara Flanagan is entering her seventh semester as a Chapter Advisor. After founding the Chatham University Her Campus chapter in November 2011, she served as Campus Correspondent until graduation in 2015. Mara works as a freelance social media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She interned in incident command software publicity at ADASHI Systems, gamification at Evive Station, iQ Kids Radio in WQED’s Education Department, PR at Markowitz Communications, writing at WQED-FM, and marketing and product development at Bossa Nova Robotics. She loves jazz, filmmaking and circus arts.