Freshman promotes creativity through online journal

IMG_8424By: Andrew Zhao  

An avid reader of fantasy and science fiction, freshman Keshav Dhir manages Scribere, a free on- line literary journal. Every three months, the site publishes fiction, non fiction and poetry. Scribere has four issues; the most recent one was published a month ago and includes stories ranging from a student discovering her mother having cancer to a sci-fi story involving government and aliens.

According to the website, anybody from ages 11 to 18 can submit a piece. Once submitted, a con r- mation email is sent, and a board of editors deter- mines whether the piece is t for publishing or not. e criteria for acceptance include an adequate plot, dialogue and engaging word choice. Near the jour- nal’s publication, authors receive emails with either noti cation of acceptance or feedback and an en- couragement to reapply. Finally, all pieces are up- loaded and the journal is made live on the website.

Originally, Dhir directed his creative energies to writing and submitting his work to a publishing journal. But the experience was terrible. “I didn’t have anyway of knowing whether the publishers even received my submission,” Dhir said. “ ere was no way of con- tacting the publisher.” A er having similar experiences with other journals, Dhir decided to create his own journal. “And that’s how Scribere was born,” Dhir said. Dhir, the founding edi- tor, recruited two Gunn students, sophomore Chiara Jurczak and freshman

Sachait Arun, to his team. But even with this team, setting up the journal was challenging. One major roadblock Dhir faced was building the website. Dhir was unfamiliar with website design and had to learn everything from scratch. “ is site actually took probably about 30 to 40 hours using Wix,” Dhir said.

In addition, Dhir and his team needed to obtain grants to pay for their website, their workshops and their promotional materials. However, getting grants is easier said than done. “It was not exactly a cake- walk; there is a very extensive application process,” Dhir said. Nevertheless, Scribere succeeded in ob- taining grants: one from Palo Alto ink Fund and another from Disney for National Mentoring Month.

ese grants were used to hold creative writing workshops for Palo Alto Uni ed School District (PAUSD). ere were three in total, and they were held at Gunn and Fairmeadow elementary school. Ac- cording to Palo Alto Online, the workshop started o with participants writing in response to prompts such as “Describe a time when you felt elated.” Later, par- ticipants could share their works with other people. “If they do so, they receive feedback from the other participants and me, plus Scribere’s board,” Dhir said. At the end, all attendees received a custom notepad and a pen. Participants could choose to hand in their work for consideration for the upcoming March issue.

Dhir holds numerous jobs at Scribere. He is the primary manager of the Scribere website, and he makes sure that all approved pieces are pub- lished on it. In addition, he is in charge of nanc- es: he pays the bills for the website and the pro- motions. Although Dhir is the founder, he has a board to assist in reviewing the submitted pieces.

According to Dhir, Scribere is unique in that it gives feedback to potential authors. Many journals give little to no information if they reject a submitted piece; Scribere does the opposite. If a piece is rejected, the board will write feedback detailing why the rejection occurred. “ is way, we encourage authors to re-submit their work,” Dhir said.

Due to his success with Scrib- ere, Dhir was recent-

ly featured on Palo Alto Online. Dhir believes that the article will help more teens get to know about and hopefully submit to Scribere. “I think that it will de nitely help bring more publicity,” Dhir said.

As for the future of Scribere, Dhir has few set plans. However, he will de nitely keep Scri- bere online only. “It is a lot cooler to see your work online instead of a book,” Dhir said.

Dhir himself is interested in pursuing a writing career. One of his aspirations is becoming a journalist, which includes joining e Oracle. Another potential path for him is to become an author. “I would like to do something with writing,” Dhir said.