Running an e-magazine is easy as PI

Jamie Uy, '17, is the managing editor of the online magazine Parallel Ink.
Jamie Uy, ’17, is the managing editor of the online magazine Parallel Ink. (Photo by Sheyna Cruz)

SAS student by day, published writer and editor by night? Clearly, there’s more to sophomore Jamie Uy than meets the eye.

At the age of 16, Jamie’s works have been featured on the Huffington Post, compiled into a paperback anthology on Amazon, and commended by the Foyle Young Poets competition, which honors 100 of the best poems selected from over 7,000 teen submissions a year. She has also written for the Singapore American Newspaper and numerous online publications.

Add one more project to that list of credentials. Since the summer of 2012, Jamie has been the managing editor of Parallel Ink (PI), an e-magazine that she co-founded with two friends.

It was a project “born out of friendship,” said Jamie. Back in middle school, she befriended Jiyoon Jeong and Puinoon Na Nakorn at the International School of Bangkok. The three of them bonded over “shared fandoms and common classes.” But like many third-culture kids, it wasn’t long before they had to part ways: Jiyoon moved to Korea and Jamie relocated to Singapore, leaving Puinoon in Thailand.

Geographical barriers didn’t keep them apart for long. Between 7th and 8th grade, the trio found a way to combine their literary, artistic and technological talent. They decided to start a digital publication where fellow students could submit their work.

Six months and countless Google Docs later, Parallel Ink made its debut online.

What was so different about their idea, apart from the fact that it was launched by three middle school kids? According to Jamie, the mission of PI – or π, as it’s fondly abbreviated –  “wasn’t so much to necessarily produce a new standard for writing or art. It was more to reach a new standard of appreciation and encouragement for young writers.”

Jamie was inspired by her own experience with rejection. “As a young writer myself, when I submitted things, I would get discouraged because I basically received no feedback,” Jamie said. “I thought that there needed to be some kind of place which was more supportive…to share friendship and appreciation of the arts with other kids who might be struggling.”

Parallel Ink’s acceptance rate is 17%, which might seem surprising. However, unlike many other selective publications (whose acceptance rates typically range between 5-10%), each submission to PI is carefully reviewed and ‘graded’ by a minimum of two editors. It is then returned to the submitter, with detailed feedback attached.

The first issue featured about 20 pages of original student work. By the time Vol. 2, Issue 2 rolled out last December, the PDF had grown to a whopping 110 pages long. To Jamie and the rest of the PI staff, it was amazing to look back and see how far they had come.

At the same time, however, they shared a feeling that their magazine had outgrown its ISSUU platform. So they decided to move in a new direction.

In late 2014, Parallel Ink announced a hiatus in order to implement massive changes. Behind the scenes, the team (now numbering 22) worked tirelessly to revamp the site.

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Officially reopened on Pi Day (March 14, 2015), the new-and-improved magazine will have streamlined submission review processes and a revised strategy for outreach.

Most importantly, Parallel Ink is making the transition from one digital platform to another. Goodbye to ISSUU…and hello, Tumblr.

What prompted the switch? “A lot of us on staff already have Tumblr accounts and were involved in the writing and art communities,” Jamie explained. “We felt like we understood the platform and its benefits and drawbacks.”

Thanks to the versatility of the new site, PI may soon be able to accept submission in multimedia format,which means that in addition to traditional writing and art, they could also publish videos, music and photo collages. On top of that, PI plans to release an annual e-book anthology, featuring the year’s best submissions.

Jamie Uy Pull QuoteThe best advantage of Tumblr is that it’s interactive. Before, each PDF issue was just a “direct translation of a physical object,” a traditional magazine on a computer screen. Now, with just a few clicks, readers will be able to like and reblog their favorite PI content.

It couldn’t be a more exciting time for Parallel Ink. Or Jamie, for that matter. Somehow, in spite of the chaos that is high school life, she finds ways to remain faithful to her love of stories.
“I read four of Haruki Murakami’s books during Christmas vacation,” she recalled. “He is now my gold standard for fiction writing.”

And as for her own writing career? If her portfolio is any indication, it’s still going strong. “Writing is almost like self-actualization,” Jamie confessed. “It’s helpful to have my words down on paper…to [let out] the caged birds inside my brain.”

Like her e-magazine brainchild, however, she prefers not to limit herself to the written word. As Jamie puts it, “There are different mediums for telling a story. But it always comes back to the idea: ‘I want to be able to say something that helps the world somehow. To tell a story that’s meaningful.’”


Follow Parallel Ink 2.0: parallelink.tumblr.com

Author: Sheyna Cruz

Sheyna Cruz is a senior and Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Eye. This is her second year on staff and her third at SAS. She loves Model UN, murder mysteries, mangoes, milk tea and other things that don’t necessarily start with M. She can be contacted at cruz45489@sas.edu.sg.

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