Editor of the Week, Sejal Jain
Interview by Genre Editor and Director of Editor Development, Mehr Singh
One of Polyphony’s many talented editors, Sejal Jain, is a sophomore in love with writing and the creativity it offers her. As Sejal explains, her motivation to be a writer and editor comes from “the knowledge that I’m contributing to the field of creative writing by simply giving someone my genuine advice and sharing what I’ve learned from my own experience with writing.” We had the chance to get to know Sejal a bit more and understand what makes her a wonderful Polyphony Genre Editor.
Q: When did you get interested in writing?
A: I’ve been writing ever since I was young. Frankly, I have no idea what got me “interested” in writing at first- I kind of just picked up a pen and wrote a very long winded, trite poem about lush green hills and sparkling blue seas or something like that. However, my interest was spurred by my love of books, especially fiction, and my increasing appreciation for good craft as I grew older. It was only a couple years ago that I was formally introduced to professional writing that existed outside of novel writing, including anthologies, poetry collections, and lit mags, and it was then that I really fell in love with both poetry and short story.
Q: What do you love most about Polyphony?
A: I think the greatest thing about Polyphony H.S. is the encouraging environment it creates for high school writers and editors in allowing them to experience the professional literary world for themselves. It steps outside the stigma of unfeeling or impersonal literary magazines and publishers sending off standard rejection letters with characteristically stoic expressions. Rather, the magazine and the editors it is comprised of, empowers young writers around the world to find and value their creative voice. It’s also clearly reflected by the amount of feedback that any Polyphony editor will give to a writer, regardless of their rejection or acceptance- feedback that is honest, thoughtful, intuitive, and conducive to creative thinking.
Q: What motivates you about being an editor?
A: There are a few main things that motivate me as an editor. The first stems from my response to the first question, and that is the knowledge that I’m contributing to the field of creative writing by simply giving someone my genuine advice and sharing what I’ve learned from my own experience with writing. Personally, I think that that’s probably the most valuable thing that any one person can offer to another. That idea especially applies to the literary community. The second reason is because the editing process, when applied to pieces that are not my own, informs my own writing quite a bit. When I spend time picking up on imagery, structure, depth, and originality, I am able to use that critical eye much more effectively while editing my own work. Understanding perspectives is absolutely key in writing, and being an editor allows you to actively harness that ability.
Q: What genre of writing do you enjoy the most?
A: Although I like to say I love all genres equally, nothing gets me like an incredibly well written poem.
Q: What is the most important thing you have taken away from working with Polyphony?
A: I think the most important thing I’ve taken away from Polyphony H.S. is an experience, rather than a lesson- and that’s the writing it publishes in every volume. I remember first coming across the magazine and finding myself literally dumbfounded by how much truth had been compressed and compounded into those pages. The pieces that Polyphony publishes are not your everyday finds. They will hit you, hard. They are revealing and submissive and volatile all at once, crafted impeccably, and worked into the kind of art that you will stubbornly remember. It has inspired me to grow as a writer myself, as I know it has done for a plethora of writers my age, and I love this magazine for that.
Q: What are your other interests and activities?
A: Outside of writing and editing, I’m an avid participant in Speech & Debate and various science and engineering competitions- yes, I know, nerd stereotypes abound. I love any kind of reading, biking, traveling, watching movies, puzzles, spending time with friends and family, meeting new people, and learning new things on a day-to-day basis.