By Ryan O'Connell
The Onyx and the English Club recently collaborated in hosting a fantasy-based short story writing competition in the McCarthy Center Forum, Nov. 17.
The Onyx, the literary magazine of FSU, which releases a new issue every year, organized the event in collaboration with the English Club. The event was attended by members of both clubs, as well as a number of students interested in participating in the timed write.
An Onyx advisor, Professor Sam Witt, said although he held an advising role, the club is an entirely student-run operation.
Witt added that while The Onyx had done writing contests in the past, he was “pretty sure” this was the first one that’s been done in “real time.”
“From looking at this and talking to the students who are putting it on, you actually write a fantasy story at the event,” he said. “I think that’s really exciting and really interesting.”
Witt said one of his favorite aspects of The Onyx was how the group had something physical to show for it at the end of the year, and how it was something you could bring into your career.
Kaylie Valente, a freshman and publicist of The Onyx, said her favorite part of being in the club is being able to read all the different applications in the spring. She added she appreciated the club because she felt a lot of students at FSU had things to say but just didn’t know how to share them.
“Honestly, I just love seeing how many ideas people have,” she said. “What I’m looking forward to [in the] coming spring semester is being able to read all the student’s work.
“I feel like there’s a lot of people here that have a voice, that haven’t really found a place to put it, and being able to send their work to The Onyx will give them that voice,” she said.
Valente also said that while she hasn’t submitted anything to the group yet, she plans on entering poetry and a short story into the magazine’s submissions this year. She added that as an English major, she feels confident that her participation in the club will help her later on in her career.
Sofia Wilson, a freshman and secretary/treasurer of The Onyx, said that she too plans to submit to the club. She added that she wanted to submit some of the poems she’s written this semester, saying that they helped her get out of a long hiatus during COVID-19.
Wilson said that her favorite aspect of the club was the “automatic sense of belonging,” and how it was a calm and safe environment for creative arts. She also added how she enjoyed that the upperclassmen helped welcome new members into the group.
“This is a really inclusive club that you can just be creative and there’s really no judgement at all,” she said. “There are older kids in the club, but you don’t feel like they know more than you, or there’s something that you’re missing.”
Wilson also said that she appreciated getting to read other students’ work, saying that “usually [you] don’t have opportunities to do that.”
Leo Jalali, junior and editor-in-chief of The Onyx, has been with the club for two years. Jalali shared his goals, saying that he was excited for this event to help display “the creative power that is inherent in almost everyone.”
Jalali found the concept “great,” saying how writing is a challenging field, and that the event will help students to refine their abilities in writing well on a timeframe.
“Writing is competitive, and this type of competition not only displays the nature of the industry in application, but helps sharpen writing skills when up against other talented writers.”
He went on to talk about the collaboration between the English Club and The Onyx, saying that it was “pretty natural,” due to the similarities in subject between both organizations. He emphasized how they learn a lot from other artists on campus, rationalizing the partnership for the Fantasy Writing Competition.
The contest, which allowed writers 30 minutes to create their works, had a little over a dozen entries. Following the initial creation period, the writers were free to chat, enjoy refreshments provided by the clubs, and wait for the winners to be announced.
After writing, Destiny Rios, a sophomore, said that she is a new member of the English Club. She said she hadn’t heard much about The Onyx, due to her first year being mostly online, and her unfamiliarity with campus events.
Rios said she didn’t have any particular prize she was aiming for, but that anything would make her happy. She added that “she had fun writing out the story,” but she hoped she would get her work back, saying that it connected to a larger piece she had been working on before participating.
Aline Genovese, a freshman, expressed her interest in joining the English Club, but said it’s been a difficult time to take it on with her academics. Genovese said that she had fun at the event, and was relieved that the organizers were open to making the competition accessible for writers using computers.
She said her favorite part of the event was getting out and meeting more people, and that she was “much more likely” to join either of the clubs now that she has seen them in action.
The judging was done by Sarah Sagan, president of the English Club, and Hannah Polansky, president of The Onyx.
The event concluded with the third prize going to sophomore Destiny Rios, the second to junior Leo Jalali, and the first to freshman Emily Monaco, who won an assorted basket of goods, and a huge plush dragon.