Ellen Harris is a senior from the University of Northern Colorado. Her nonfiction piece “I am nothing; I see all I am part or particle of God” has won the 2017 Western Regional Honor Council’s award in nonfiction. Please see below for Scribendi’s exclusive interview with her!
What was your purpose when creating this poem?
At the time I wrote “I Am Nothing…”, I was really trying to work through and put to words the events that I wrote about in the piece. Most—though not all—of the events had happened within the six months prior writing the piece. When I realized that the deadline for Scribendi submissions was coming up, it was as if the ideas I’d been mulling over in the back of my mind came to the front.
Do you believe that your writing style has changed at all since being published in Scribendi?
I don’t think my writing style has changed since being published by Scribendi. That’s in part because my writing style tends to vary a lot—what I normally write is poetry or academic papers. This particular prose piece was something of an anomaly, but it’s still very much in my “style.” I will say that being published has encouraged me to consider writing more prose-type pieces.
Have you continued to write, draw, or paint?
Yes, but mostly intermittently, which isn’t unusual for me. I tend to mull things over in my head for a long time before putting them on paper.
Why do you enjoy creating the work that you make? Why do you make it?
I enjoy creating, and I mean that for writing and quite a number of other creative viewpoints, such as canning, of all things. I write to work through ideas and put words to them, and also because I enjoy the process of picking just the right words for a concept. I tend to think of writing similar to weaving something together, trying to get the same idea(s) to show up throughout a piece without explicitly stating the idea. I also just enjoy the creative process of putting things together and coming out with something completely different at the end.
Why did you submit to Scribendi, as opposed to another publication?
I first heard about Scribendi as a sophomore; one of my fellow Honors students told me about it because she was submitting. And then last year one of my friends who I went to high school with had a piece published in Scribendi, so the repeated exposure helped stick Scribendi in my mind as a good option if I ever wanted to try to get something published. It also helped that when I looked up the deadline for submissions to Scribendi as a senior, it was only about a week away. I usually either write things on my own time (which might mean months or even years) or work on a deadline. Having that immediate deadline drove me to actually write, and it didn’t make sense to try to submit to a different publication with a different deadline once I’d written my piece.
Why should people submit to Scribendi?
For anyone who wants to go into the arts, it’s a good professional opportunity that you can put on your resume. For people like me, who don’t plan on going into the arts but like to create things, it’s a great opportunity to be recognized for something that is usually more of a hobby. Also, the barrier to submit is practically nothing, which is helpful.
How does Scribendi compare to other magazines that you have experience with?
I don’t really know much about other magazines. I’m vaguely aware that a lot of other magazines have submission fees, while Scribendi does not, which is great for college students.