A Look Into Why I And So Many Others Joined Odyssey
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A Look Into Why I And So Many Others Joined Odyssey

From writers to EICs across the country.

A Look Into Why I And So Many Others Joined Odyssey
Samantha Brodsky

I started writing for Ithaca College’s branch of Odyssey in September of my junior year. A few months later I also became one of the Contributing Editors, then took over as Editor-in-Chief last spring. But why exactly did I join Odyssey? If you wanted the short answer, I’d say this: I love to write — simple and one of the many truths I know. But let's go with the long answer.

Before applying, I'd seen article after article on my newsfeed from writers across the country, would laugh at the funny cat memes, relate to childhood nostalgia and find inspiration in stories about overcoming abuse or other hardships. I wanted to be someone who impacted people through my writing. I was excited by the idea of pitching topics to an editor every week while still having creative freedom (something that's hard to come by in the field). It was a perfect balance between structure and flexibility — you write weekly articles but are encouraged to produce work ranging from prose to current events.

Odyssey has been a vehicle for my professional and personal growth as a writer. It has taught me how to write efficiently and meet deadlines, but it has also taught me how to write forcefully and with a fearlessness that is so important. On the editorial side of things, I’ve grown a great deal from managing my incredible team of writers and editing their work (which is equally as incredible).

I’ve been introduced to Editor-in-Chiefs and writers from other branches and am in constant contact with professionals in New York (shout out to my assistant managing editor Kaitlyn — you’re the best). Working with editors both on the collegiate and corporate level has done great things for my communication skills and overall confidence in not only my craft, but my strength, period.

I started writing for Odyssey because I knew that I wanted to dip my toes into the demandingly in-the-know, excitement-exuding world that is the magazine industry. It encouraged me to dive into that field, and I give my involvement with Odyssey credit for leading to professional experiences that have only made me more certain of what I aspire to do. Who I aspire to become.

So when people ask me why I joined, it’s simple really — I love to write. Odyssey keeps me on a path where I can experiment with topics and explore what I’m curious about and what I’m passionate about. It keeps me writing even when I don’t feel like I can. Like I sent my team not too long ago:

“Discipline allows magic. To be a writer is to be the very best of assassins. You do not sit down and write every day to force the Muse to show up. You get into the habit of writing every day so that when she shows up, you have the maximum chance of catching her, bashing her on the head, and squeezing every last drop out of that bitch."

- Lili St. Crow

As Editor-in-Chief, I get to watch and be a part of the process where pitches transform into impactful work. I get to encourage writers — whether they are personal essayists, journalists or fiction writers — to keep writing. Because after all, they’re my people — and I love my people.

Marisa Wherry: Creator, Ithaca College

“I started writing for Odyssey because I wanted to have the chance to be an editor. I love editing and writing in general. But when I didn't get an editor position, I was still offered a writer position. I was iffy about taking it, but I'm so glad I did. After a couple of weeks of writing for Odyssey, I got more creative with the kinds of articles I wanted to write. It's a flexible platform, so I could write pretty much anything from funny listicles to more serious opinion pieces. Being part of Odyssey has taught me how to format my writing to fit a magazine platform. So really, my reason for joining and staying with Odyssey are different. I joined to become a better editor, but I stayed because I found myself becoming a better writer.”

Megan McDonald: Editor-in-Chief, Columbia College Chicago

“I started writing for Odyssey because I had fallen in love with blogging. I never wrote because of a desire to be a journalist. I wrote because I thought the most important gift you can give someone is the gift of knowing they aren't the only one thinking and feeling certain things. It reassures people to know they aren't alone. Especially when you're a freshman and your whole world seems so upside down. I hope that I've written things that mattered. That was my goal from the start. Even if it only mattered to one other person in the world, I achieved my mission.”

Wandy Ortiz: Contributing Editor, St. Johns University

“I started writing for Odyssey because after I switched one of my majors from Business to English, I realized that only having my classmates and professors see my writing wasn't enough. I was starting to develop a unique writing style and ideas that I wanted to share with others — Odyssey gave me that community through which to share my thoughts and create conversation with others.”

Matt McKnight: Creator, Ithaca College

“I started writing for Odyssey for experience, as in how to manage a deadline, how to determine what topics might interest readers, etc. I'm much more interested in feature writing than say, creative writing, so I thought Odyssey would be a good place to start. I also started writing for Odyssey because I don't do nearly as much free writing in my spare time as I should, so it gives me a reason and obligation to write.”

Christina Boniello: Creator, Rider University

“I started writing for Odyssey for a few reasons. I really liked the idea of having a weekly deadline that I needed to follow. It made me incredibly conscientious about submitting on time, and I realized the importance of deadlines. I've also been writing for as long as I can remember, and I wanted a way to get my writing out there and have a portfolio all in one place. I love having a published piece to share every week, and getting feedback is great. Going on Facebook and seeing discussions happening because of an article I wrote is so rewarding. With every week that passes, I feel my writing improving, and I've noticed such a difference from when I first started. It's fun to have such a wide range of topics to talk about with such creative freedom.”

Madison Barlow: Social Media Director, Ithaca College

“I joined because when I first came to IC, I was looking for new ways to creatively demonstrate my writing and enhance my skills as well. I thought that Odyssey sounded like a platform that would help me do just that, and I was right.”

Kristen Dalli: Contributing Editor, Marist

“I joined Odyssey mainly because I was a fan of it for so long. I knew a few people in my classes who wrote for Odyssey, and I thought their pieces were so clever and witty and just fun. After a semester or so of reading other people's articles, I felt the urge to start writing my own. I had a list on my phone of potential article ideas and was so genuinely excited by the idea of connecting with people, from my school and others, or people totally outside the college demographic. That was another thing that appealed to me so much about Odyssey — it can be whatever you want it to be. If you want to vent about your finals week stress, or make a listicle about a dumb boy who ghosted your text messages or write a heartfelt piece about a significant event in your life, Odyssey can be that outlet. It's just further proof of the countless ways writing connects people, and I'm really proud to be a part of this community of truly talented writers.”

Lloyd Alaban: Editor-in-Chief, San Jose State University

"I joined Odyssey after reading a flyer on the wall in the journalism building here at SJSU. When I first started writing for Odyssey, I wrote political stuff, but then I realized I wanted to write about racial and social justice issues too. And week after week, the writing kept getting easier. I guess that's what happens when you're passionate and believe in your work: it's like the work does itself for you. So, I joined Odyssey because I wanted to spark some passion inside me that was dormant for too long. I'm a grad student in journalism, and writing for Odyssey is not only a release, but a reward for all the hard work I've done throughout the week working on my thesis. What I write on Odyssey is a natural extension of what I love and allows me to share my passion with others. Plus, I get a byline at the same time, so it's a great 2 for 1 deal. Every Sunday I look forward to reading my team's work because I don't just get to correct commas, more importantly, I get to see people's passion."

So it's agreed: Odyssey gives writers a chance to be a part of not only a team of creators, but a whole community of minds. It's where the development of professional skills and passion meet. And what's better than that?

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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