One of Polyphony H.S.’s talented editors, Allison Light, tells us about how she’s developed as a writer. Allison explains her process of growing from writing her first story about Granny Smith (a horse) to writing “The Erasing Office” (published on www.…..

My first story was entitled Nancy Drew: Mystery at Barrel Lake. It was scrawled in a palm-sized notebook with iridescent butterflies on the front, and the storyline featured a horse named Granny Smith. Although the final product left something to be desired, I still remember the giddiness I felt while writing. Since it hadn’t occurred to me yet that my writing could be awful, I could ignore the pesky grammar mistakes and galaxy-sized plot holes.

But now I’m in 10th grade, and I’m at the point where I can’t ignore those issues anymore. And with that self-awareness, I improved leaps and bounds. Polyphony H.S. is so great because it revolves entirely around this idea: we become better writers by analyzing our work, staring at our flaws head-on, and not being afraid of trying to fix them. Our editors do some of that work for the writers, pointing out areas with weaknesses and giving gentle pushes in the right direction. And yes, undeniably, our system mainly benefits the submitters, giving them feedback through both encouragement and criticism—we are not here to fluff egos, after all, but to refine our crafts.

As an editor, though, I feel (a bit selfishly) like I’m really coming out on top. In each of the many submissions that roll through my portal, I see my own writing. And in each submission that I comment on, I find my own flaws. I always think of writing like assembling a machine. We all have the same tools—the English language. We all have access to the same instruction manuals—the millions of books and poems already out there. It’s just up to each of us to decide how to assemble those words, and which instructions to follow. It’s up to us whether the finished product will fall apart in our hands, or stand on its own.

I edit because it means sharing something special and intangible with another writer. As I move the pieces of their machine around, tweaking cogs and oiling edges, I see the beauty in it. And that insight allows me to open my own document and try to figure out how that young author made that beauty happen.