Printing of Totem serves as bittersweet ending for editor

This is it. Tonight, at English Awards Night, the project I’ve been pouring my heart and soul into for months is going to be released to the university. Since I found out last spring that I would be the new editor of Totem, Gannon’s literary arts magazine, I’ve been anticipating tonight with a mix of nerves and excitement.

The pages are printed, the books are all – almost – bound and assembled. We can’t make any more alterations.

The completed books sitting down at the Gannon Press right now are the exact same ones that people will be able to pick up around campus in just a few days’ time.

For someone who likes to change her mind a lot, this is terrifying. Being the perfectionist that I am, it’s driving me insane that if there is one typo or word amiss anywhere in there, it’s too late to fix it. I just have to hope and trust that the staff and I caught everything on the first, second, third, and many more read-throughs.

It’s also completely gratifying to reach the end, though.

If you would have asked me months ago if I thought people would soon be reading something that I had a hand in producing, I wouldn’t have been able to imagine it.

You don’t think about things like that at the beginning. At least I didn’t. All I was concerned with was whatever immediate task was at hand, and getting things done methodically and thoroughly.

But now that we’ve reached the end of the process, I can look back with a bird’s eye view of how everything has unfolded.

Since Friday of last week, I’ve spent hours at the press alongside other staff members helping with the manual labor needed to complete the books on time. As a member of the Knight staff, I’m used to working under a deadline. But this felt a little different for me. Probably because I’ve been working on the Knight for so many weeks already, I’m just used to it. Or maybe because I’m not the head honcho of this publication.

Regardless of the reason, Totem has a circulation of 1,000, and these things didn’t just need to be printed and shipped. We had to screw them together by hand. The screws were a design decision that was made back in the fall, with each book receiving three holes drilled along the spine that needed to be filled with a chrome screw.

By the time we had completed 500, my fingers were sore and stained from the metal. But I couldn’t be happier with the way they look.

And helping with the actual production of the books, the repetitiveness of which actually started become therapeutic after a while, made me fully appreciate how much work has gone into this thing.

Everyone from the Totem staff members, our adviser, Berwyn Moore, our graphic designer, Andy Lapiska, and the entire Gannon University Press, has done so much to turn this book from a concept into a reality, and I am so grateful to have had this experience.

And if you pick up a Totem and find a typo as you’re flipping through, it really isn’t necessary to tell me.

 

CHRISTINE PEFFER

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