Four Goshen College seniors are now published authors following the release of their Pinchpenny Press books this past week.
Pinchpenny Press is an on-campus publishing opportunity headed by an editorial committee of Goshen College students and faculty.
Laura Miller, a writing and Spanish major, has been involved with Pinchpenny Press since her junior year, when she took on the student leadership position of Horswell Fellow.
“The Horswell Fellow does organization and leadership on both Pinchpenny and Broadside [Publishing],” she said. “So my first exposure to Pinchpenny was leading the board last year.”
Now, Laura Miller has released her first book – a collection of poetry titled “Growing Up a Sunflower.”
“I have poems in my book that I wrote as early as the end of freshman year,” she said. “The poems are sort of all stemming from me thinking about my experience growing up in Kansas in a rural area with my siblings… just kind of reflecting on the dynamics of family and how place can affect and shape you as a person.”
Emmy Rupp, a social work major, also chose to publish a book of poems for her Pinchpenny Press project. “These Sacred Fractures” begins with a poem that Rupp wrote in her first year of college, but the book encompasses experiences from many stages of Rupp’s life.
“Looking back at my work, I realized that poetry for me was kind of a way of processing difficult things and processing my own experiences, my beliefs, things I was seeing in the world,” Rupp said. “I also felt like it connected well with my views of faith and spirituality, and so I felt like I could write a book that kind of talks about finding the holy, finding the sacred in these painful places; thus, ‘These Sacred Fractures.’”
Mackenzie Miller, an English and journalism major, chose to title her book in both Chinese and English. She describes “存在: In Search of Presence” as a “journey.”
“It pulls from my time in China,” she said. “Poetry is included, but it’s also creative nonfiction and some of my blog posts [from] China… so kind of like a mixed medium product.”
Following her two years at Hesston College, Mackenzie Miller lived in Nanjing, China for a year before enrolling at Goshen College. Her internship advisor in Nanjing taught Miller about “the five stages of learning to be present,” which would later become the inspiration for her Pinchpenny Press book.
“Dr. Wong talked to me about [the five stages] and kind of lived them through his psychology practice while I was there,” she said. “That’s how I decided to organize my book — with his teaching.”
Mackenzie Miller’s book includes a cover design by Yujin Kim, a junior, and illustrations by Nathan Pauls, a senior. Mackenzie Miller was also involved in the aesthetic elements of the project, choosing to lay out and design the book herself.
“I laid out the whole book and inserted the illustrations,” she said. “That was actually really fun. It was a little bit more work than passing it off to a designer and having them do it, but it was fun to be involved in that process.”
Patrick Webb, a senior writing major, began working on his Pinchpenny Press project three years ago. “Lady Luck and the Monorail Conspiracy” is a superhero origin story featuring noir elements and focusing on American comic-strip character Lady Luck, who appeared in comics throughout the ‘40s.
“It’s kind of a love letter to the golden age of comics,” he said, “but with some critiques, because that era is pretty infamous for having a lot of racist caricatures — even some that were included in Lady Luck’s original story. So I wanted to reinvent the character… sort of do a throwback to that era and the more fun elements, but also addressing the problems that it had.”
All four of the student authors presented their works at the 22nd Annual Academic Symposium this past week. Webb feels as though the reality of being a published author “hasn’t really kicked in yet.”
“I feel happy that it’s out there, but it feels weird finishing it after so long,” he said. “It’s kind of humbling to have it done.”
Rupp found the process of publishing her book to be “very intimidating.”
“I think one of my biggest fears is being misinterpreted,” she said. “So it is a little bit scary taking this thing that I put all this effort into and giving it to other people and just hoping that the things that I want them to get out of it, they do get out of it. But it also feels really good to be able to share this thing that I’ve been working on for so long.”
Mackenzie Miller notes that it can be difficult to be satisfied with the final version of her work.
“There’s always things I wish I could change,” she said. “I mean, there’s always more to do… so I eventually had to just let it go and say, this is a representation of my work at this point, and it will continue to grow and evolve.”
Laura Miller is excited about her publication — but also nervous.
“I go back and forth on a daily process,” she said. “I go back and forth between being super proud and wanting every person in the world to own a copy and keep it by their bed and read it every night, but then forgetting to tell people [about it] and never showing it to anyone because I suddenly get really self-conscious about it.”
One of the most impactful moments of the writing and publishing process for Laura Miller was when she picked up her books from the print shop and held a physical copy of her work for the first time.
“I was surprised by how emotional I felt!” she said. “It just hadn’t felt like a personal achievement until I had the books in my hands, and then I got a little teary. I was so excited — this was my work!”
Those who are interested in reading the work of Laura Miller, Rupp, Webb, and Mackenzie Miller can purchase their books at the student art sale, which will begin at 10:00 a.m. on April 19 in the Hunsberger Commons.