This Side of West

Guest post by Kim Dias

I’ve been a staff member of This Side of West, UVic’s undergraduate literary journal run by the Writing Undergraduate Course Union, since my first year at UVic.

My first year on staff, I was an intern and for the last two years I’ve been one of the fiction editors. On March 28th, we’re hosting the launch for the 17th issue of the journal. Since I’m graduating in December, it will be the last launch I attend as a member of staff.

This Side of West has been publishing fiction, drama, creative nonfiction, and poetry every year since 2002. We have two editors per genre, as well as several other staff members, including two interns every year. I joined as an intern in my very first semester—fall 2016—and have been there every since; it’s been almost three years at this point.

I’ve never been much of a ‘joiner’. On a scale of 1 to extroverted, I’m a 3 on a good day. My first year on staff, I barely talked to anyone and am still not entirely convinced everyone even knew my name—way more my fault than theirs.

But the next year, several staff members returned and I’m much better with familiar faces. I started talking, started joining conversations, started to grow more comfortable.

It helped that I was now a fiction editor and was constantly in touch with other section editors and our editor-in-chief. This year, my third year on staff, I wasn’t nervous to return to our meeting room in September; I was looking forward to it.

I was homeschooled until I graduated high school. Combine that with being a shy introvert and you have a woman who isn’t great at feeling comfortable around people or bonding with them.

I never would have joined This Side of West just for the sake of joining something; I never would have stayed on the staff for three years just to be around people. But the journal created a space where I could work on a project I was interested in—I’m so proud of our books, you have no idea; they’re all displayed on the bookshelf in my bedroom—and get to know people at my own pace. My first year, I’d leave staff events early; now I stick around until the end and go out for drinks with the others afterwards.

I know I’m not alone in my introversion and shyness, which is why I’m writing this post—I’m hoping other people like me will go out, find that group they’re interested in, and join. It will probably be a little overwhelming, but give it a year; it will also be worth it.

I’m so looking forward to the journal launch this year, and at the same time, I’m sad about it. I’ll be going next year, and the next, and the next, for as long as I’m in Victoria. But I won’t be a member of staff any more. I think that’s okay, though. I’ll recognise faces and they’ll recognise me. And who knows? Maybe I’ll stick around and go for a drink with people afterwards.

This Side of West launches its 17th issue on March 28th at 7:00pm at the Copper Owl. Tickets are $5 for students and are available at the door or from staff members.


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