The Pointed Circle Experience

By River Flora|February 11, 2018Cascade, Student Writing|

The Pointed Circle Experience
River Flora

One of the foremost aspects writers look for in their environment is the opportunity to grow their words and meanings in a place that won’t choke out their creativity in the process of labor. And don’t kid yourself, writing is a fucking labor. You know that saying, “If you like what you do you’ll never work a day in your life”? It’s bullshit. Loving your work does not magically delete the hours you put into crafting. It doesn’t somehow give you your late nights and early mornings back for other thoughts – ones perhaps less somehow simultaneously virulent and full up on dissection.

Writing is work, and when I came back to PCC after having left Oregon for to destroy myself a while, I sought out what I thought the best space would be for this labor which I love and my sleep-cycle loathes; a pocket of daylight hours to commit just to writing and absorbing others’ words. The Pointed Circle was absolutely that place. Having joined what I thought to be a class, with a typical class routine, it was lovely to find out that true to my flavor I was absolutely wrong. I did not expect, for instance, to have such incredible opportunity for growth outside of my writing, and to make the strong connections that I did. The term “networking” kind of disgusts me for hazy reasons, but goddamn if I didn’t network my ass off for two terms.

I made publishing connections with people currently in the field and those certain to be so in coming years. I met local writers and writers who were completely new to Oregon. Being co-editor of a lit-mag is a phenomenal experience with the right folks involved. We had phenomenal visual artists, dynamic storytellers, poets practiced in vivisection. There was a sense of community among us, a fantastically useful naivety, and some beautiful leadership from folks like Justin Rigamonti, our advisor and teacher, who’s likely to deny having ever led anything. To my own great benefit, Justin and I formed a firm friendship, and I count him among my mentors.

Oh, I have writing mentors now. Ready collaborators. Enthusiastic and mutual contributors to projects that aren’t just me running myself in spirals alone. Being a part of The Pointed Circle has taught me how to make firm uncertain connections by thrusting those connections at me and making me figure out how to deal. Especially, I think, with stylistic differences. When it gets down to the wire of picking pieces, getting the physical work done, etc., folks who are serious about being involved will demonstrate their dedication, so that’s not a problem. Any points of contention we ever had were in the physical construction of the journal. From paper to font to graphics, there was little initial agreement.

That’s fine. We don’t have to agree with one another to put out great work. In the end, those disagreements bolstered the final product; a version we were all proud of. Not only did we get the opportunity to contribute our own writing, we were always taking in new submissions and reading work from all over the country. There’s no better fertilizer than the depression, joy, and anger that comes from disparate writers coming together to form a single pile of reek.

Most impactful for my own work, I ran off at the end of this experience with the component called confidence – crucial to finally compiling my own manuscript and leaving distrusting ambivalence behind. My co-editors and I were all invested in this process, and regardless of our stress levels we consistently gave what we could to complete the project. Some folks (not I, certainly) shed a significant amount of hours pulling late nights to work their InDesign magic. This sense of writer’s comradery established a community – many of whom, a year later, call each other friends.

Prior to this experience I had always considered publishing to be an out-of-reach and behind-the-scenes spectacle. Anymore, I fully feel access to that kind of shit-stirring. I’m thankful to my co-writers, and am indebted to Justin Rigamonti, for the opportunity to learn how to work the paddle.

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