Toronto never fails to amaze me. There’s always some new festival or event happening; there’s so much to do and something for everyone. I had heard about the Word on the Street Festival in previous years, but September 25th was the first opportunity I had to attend.
As an upper year Professional Writing student, my professors are always mentioning exciting opportunities for their students to try out their skills, network with professionals in the field, and gain new experiences. During the first week of classes, we received multiple emails from professors and department heads about Toronto’s Word on the Street Festival- a massive, one-day literary festival that takes place near the lake. After a few in-class mentions from professors about joining them at the university’s festival booth to edit and produce an instant anthology with Kobo, most did not need to be asked again.
I arrived at the festival a half hour before it began and wandered through the white tents with some friends and classmates, feeling anticipation flutter in our chests as we saw our favorite publishers begin setting up for the day. We shivered in the cool winds, and huddled by the water to take some pictures and watch more white tents go up.
At 10:45 we made our way over to the YorkU Writing Department’s booth and mingled with more classmates and faculty until we were divided into three teams: two for editing all submissions, and one assigned to acquisitions and spreading the word around WOTS that we were looking for submissions about the festival in any genre and form for our anthology until 2PM. We were all thrilled to be doing some real editing work, but in some of us, there was a seed of doubt that we may not get enough submissions for the anthology. After all, we’re a tiny department-who would have heard of us?
These doubts seemed to be founded for the first two hours as a miniscule amount of submissions trickled in. We had so many editors and faculty members overseeing the project, but we just couldn’t get the word out. However, things changed as the afternoon wore on; around 12:30, submissions were flying into our Dropbox. It seemed we couldn’t even leave for lunch without five more submissions arriving for each team! We were working hard, huddling to block out the wind, using our cellphone data just so we could keep on top of all the submissions that needed to be edited!
The doubt was quickly swept away in the excitement of working as a team and reading so many different types of submissions, each written in its own unique voice. We felt like editors, like we were getting a taste of our futures, and let me tell you it was magical. We had to stay later than we had planned on being there due to delays in receiving all the authors’ bios, but we hardly minded. Some classmates who weren’t editing the anthology wandered around the booths and grabbed the business cards for any newspaper, magazine, and publishing house that was looking for submissions or freelance editors and shared them with the group, I dragged a few other friends over to the Editor’s Association of Canada booth, we bought books, we met like-minded people, we had an absolute blast.
It was an incredibly long day, but it reignited a spark of hope within me that I had felt burning out under the stress of school. It reminded me that there is more to getting a job than just a degree, and that networking isn’t as terrifying as previously believed. Above all else, it reminded me that my dreams could become a reality, and how absolutely lucky I am to have such a supportive faculty determined to see their students succeed.
Thanks, WOTS Toronto, you were amazing. See you next year!