Passion, promise, and editing for the love of community

By Northern Eclecta: Erin Tamillo, ex-editor in chief for Northern Eclecta, has a deep love for the written word

Erin Tamillo | Photo Courtesy
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Writing, like many creative endeavors, begins as a way to express an idea and slowly transforms into a means of communicating ideas to a larger audience. Northern Eclecta, North Dakota State’s premiere literary Journal fosters this journey for writers like Erin Tamillo. She was first published in Northern Eclecta in 2016, at the age of 17, and went on to become the Editor in chief of last year’s Journal.

Growing up as a writer

The first story she published, “The IXV Neptune Missions,” is an interplanetary adventure that was inspired by a class assignment and a fair amount of sci-fi television as a child. Tamillio was approached by Eunice Jonston, the senior lecturer in charge of Northern Eclecta, about submitting the work. “I was aghast, elated when they told me they were going to include it,” Tamillo said.

Tamilo grew up in Sauk Center, a small town known mostly for being the birthplace of American play write Sinclair Lewis. “When I was in middle and high school, I was definitely one of those people who escaped through literature,” Tamilo said. “Obviously growing up in small-town Minnesota is not the most exciting thing in the world.” 

This escape was a product of Tamillo’s upbringing. Her parents read to her all the time. To the point where her dad had to hide Cloudy with a chance of meatballs to keep her from asking him to read it to her. As for writing, “I wrote my first official retelling of little red riding hood at age three,” Tamillo said. She added that the work was what you would expect for her age.

Most of Tamillo’s works for the Northern Eclecta have been poems. While these poems are based on her reality, she said she enjoys using her fiction to explore scenarios outside the realm of immediate possibility. Tamillo is currently working on a project that she describes as “medium fantasy” which she works on in her vary precious free moments. 

The impact of Northern Eclecta

Tamillo was published a couple more times after her first story before she joined the team of editors enrolled in the literary publishing certificate program. Students who are hoping to gain a certificate in publishing edit, produce and market a literary journal that accepts submissions from students, teachers and community members.

During her first year with the journal, Tamillo worked on the social media team. “The next year (2020) Eunice asked me if I wanted to be editor in chief,” Tamillo said, “and I was so gung-ho, I was ready, I was game.” 

The theme for the journal, “2020 vision,” focused on stories from the past, present and future. It allowed for a lot of great works according to Tamillo. NE also opened submissions to the community, which freed up more stories for vetting. “My mom ended up finding a piece that was written by her great, great aunt, in 1913.”

A lot is expected from the editor-in-chief; it can be tedious and frustrating work, but Tamillo said her hard work at the journal enriched her writer and editor skills. “I think it made me become a more aware writer,” Tamillo explained, “I was definitely more aware of who I was writing for, and keeping to theme kind-off keeps you focused on a single idea.” The journal was also a way to learn more about editing in a group setting according to Tamillo. 

Tamillo is currently in grad school and hopes to find a career in publishing someday.

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