The Harbinger Online

Blog: How It’s Made

In elementary school, I once went on a field trip where I dipped a string in colored wax, waited for the wax to dry, then dipped it and waited again and again until finally I held a lop-sided, snot-turquoise colored home-made candle in my hands.

Beyond making me thankful that I was living in an age that could flip a switch for light rather than being dependent on grueling child labor to make candles, this experience was the first time where I considered something in terms of how it was made rather than assuming it magically appeared on a store shelf.

I recently read Leo Tolstoy’s “The Death of Ivan Ilyich,” a beat up, hard-backed copy whose book sleeve some other library user had long ago lost.

In the 126 years between Tolstoy sculpting the story and my reading it, the novella was penned, printed, stored, shipped, translated to English, reprinted in Long Island, New York, assembled, stored in a dusty warehouse, driven cross-country in a cardboard box of its brethren, stored, exchanged, and finally stamped “Plaza” in red ink on June 13, 1998, where it was passed between readers in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Skimming the thirty-four-paged introduction written by some editor in his mid fifties, I found the occasional pencil annotation: tentative underlines, arrows, asterisks, and a scribbled note.

And this says nothing of the librarians who filed it onto the shelves, the computer nerd who created a catalogue system and assigned me a number, or the designers or manufacturers of the arm chair I sat in to read.

The point is: an unspeakable amount of work, time, and energy went into the products that allowed me to enjoy a great book.

Since December, I’ve been directing and working on my Frequent Friday. To put it lightly, the process has been exhausting and invigorating. Metaphorically speaking, I am Tolstoy, the editor, the translator, the publisher, the librarian, and the guy who wrote his notes on the side of the book to leave his impressions all in one. Regardless, I believe my cast and crew, the metaphorical words printed on the pages, will do a fantastic job of telling the story.

I promise you won’t have to think about Leo Tolstoy’s publishing process to enjoy the show.

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Emily Donovan

Emily is a senior at East who has happily joined the Harbinger as a Staff Writer and Anchor. Besides would-be writer, Emily is an International Baccalaureate candidate, "theatre kid," and artiste-wanna-be. Read Full »

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