Name: Emily Ward
This month’s Germ Girl is our very own Emily Ward, staff-writer extraordinaire. When we discovered that our high school dynamo had spent the past semester with her class establishing her school’s literary magazine online, we knew we had to bring her into the office (so to speak) and dish. Emily is one of those people whose enthusiasm and zest for life can get anyone inspired. A prolific writer in her own right, Emily has globe-trotted far and wide and appears miles above your average high school student in terms of portfolio, talent, interests, and ambition. We were very lucky to sit down with the beautiful lady in question and ask her about her life outside of Germ.
Are you currently in school?
I’m currently a senior at The Archer School for Girls in way-too-sunny LA.
More than anything, it’s a combination of comforting and encouraging. My teachers and peers are always pushing me to do my best and fight for what I want while providing an irreplaceable support network; Archer is basically my second home. It’s where I feel most confident and most comfortable.
Do you have any hobbies?
Baking, reading (Dickens, at the moment), writing, finding ‘bright places,’ watching weird old movies, eating French fries and ice cream, groaning over Shakespeare and Joss Whedon…
What do you love to do in your free time?
I try to take everything in my previous answer and squish it all into one day. Hard to do, but not impossible, especially when your dad owes you ice cream.
Do you have any heroes? Who inspires you?
Laverne Cox, Jenn Niven, Roald Dahl, Emma Watson, Orson Welles, Dr. Sylvia Earle, my teachers, the Laser Babes (you know who you are), my parents, dogs…
So we hear you helped establish an online literary magazine. Can you describe that experience?
Hoo boy. It was quite the journey. My school (Archer) has had a litmag for over a decade now, but last year, as Maria (my now-Co-Editor) and I sat in Creative Writing as sweet little naïve juniors, we just knew that we wanted to shake things up since we’d be inheriting the co-editorship the next year. We wanted to really do something as Co-Editors. It only seemed logical to make a website for Pillars of Salt; everything else was online, so why shouldn’t Pillars be online too?
Like I said, naïve.
We started out by going into school two days earlier than all the other students and spending about eight hours altogether scanning all the past editions of Pillars that we could get our hands on (that copy room will never be the same again). One of the essential parts of our planned website was going to be a section where the reader could access PDF versions of all the past editions, an Archives section. We’re actually still working on putting them all together (pages go missing here and there), but the Archives should definitely be accessible by the release of the spring edition.
Then, we had a meeting with our school’s Director of Educational Technology, who told us to draw up wire frames (basic outlines) of how we wanted each different part of our website to look and to develop a colour scheme. Once our plans were finalised, we gave them to Archer’s Webmaster (who is an angel for helping us as much as he did), who worked his magic and gave us an initial outline of the website.
Now, while all this was going on, in class we were reaching out for and reviewing submissions as well as building a cover for the winter edition that would also serve as the Pillars of Salt logo. We also started advertising around school and social-networking (follow @Archer_LitMag on twitter for instant llamas!).
Things didn’t really kick off until we started populating the website; then we had to learn how to create thumbnails for each piece, figure out a way to have an uncomplicated Table of Contents, decide which pieces would be featured on the home page, polish the general composition of the site… And we ended up having a deadline that was a week sooner than we’d intended. This entailed me, Maria, and Tracey (our Junior Editor and Germ girl) sitting on my bedroom floor and drawing up a Table of Contents, which served as a guideline for both the website and the organisation of the print edition of the magazine.
Once we had all this, it was just a question of Maria and I sitting down and throwing everything together. And me gathering various photographs and information to build the Staff’s “About Us” page. The night before the launch was a bit of a nightmare, but we managed it.
But now, the website is launched, and we can relax for about a month until we start putting together the spring edition…
What was your favorite traveling experience?
I can’t pick — I have two…
A few years ago, I went to Hungary during the summer, and it was one of the most beautiful and educational things I’ve ever experienced. I’m descended from a really famous Hungarian family that’s responsible for building Budapest into the city it is today: the National Archive was once our family library, a public swimming pool and bath was once part of our family estate, and my most famous ancestor, who was responsible for the construction of the famous (and pretty!) Chain Bridge, is on the 5000-forint bill. It was pretty wild to see our family name on every other boulevard and statues of aforementioned famous ancestor in almost every town we went to! I learned a lot about my family history and experienced an entirely new culture that felt very familiar to me — and I even survived a day that was 100ºF with 99% humidity…
This past summer, I spent a month in St. Andrew’s at the University’s Summer Creative Writing Programme, and honestly, I’ve never been happier. I was able to spend four weeks with nineteen incredibly talented and friendly people and all of our wonderful teachers while learning so much about Scottish history and being in the part of the world that I like best. Because the Programme encouraged complete independence in almost everything you did, I got a real taste of what it would be like to go to college and, scarily enough, live like an adult. I learned how to budget my allowance and create schedules around my daily classes that allowed me to get my work done and take care of all my other chores, like doing my laundry. I also made some of my closest friends — we were literally inseparable — and learned what it felt like to be my real self, which is quite different from the person I am in Los Angeles.
What were the top three things you learned, or top three favorite memories from studying abroad in Scotland?
1) Eva (my bestie) brought a set of adhesive mustaches with her in her pencil case (because she’s just that awesome, okay?) and after trying a few on for size, we had the bright idea of wearing them to dinner. Dinner was program-wide, by the way. And we did this two days in a row. I’ll let you imagine the results.
2) I cooked dinner for my friend group (including Eton Mess, a traditional — and my favourite — English dessert), and after dessert we shared life stories. It was such a raw and such an uplifting experience. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. The friends I made while I was there are some of the best people I’ve ever met.
3) There was a pond by the cafeteria that was inhabited by two or three families of ducks. We fed them bread every day and developed a strategy that allowed us to occasionally sneak a stroke or two. In other words, yes, I’ve touched a duck.
Tell us three interesting facts about yourself that people may not know.
1) I make really great toast. I mean great.
2) I am a ceilidh queen. Let me know if you want lessons.
3) If you hadn’t noticed, I spell things the British way. Favourite. Colour. Realise. (You cringing yet?)