Thread co-editors collaborate to develop culture of organization

Thread Literary Magazine Co-Editors Audra Nikolajski (middle) and Anna Khoury (middle-right) have been collaborating together to intertwine their organization with the rest of the Creative Writing Department. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/AUDRA NIKOLAJSKI

After spending a summer abroad with a friend, most would want to take some time apart. But Thread Magazine Co-Editors Audra Nikolajski and Anna Khoury had a different plan for the upcoming school year: coming together to turn the magazine on its head. 

“We went to London over the summer, and we hang out all the time,” Nikolajski said. “Working with her is definitely a joy. That may not be true for every pair, but we both have individual talents that suit our job really well but are distinctly different, which is lovely.” 

Nikolajski is a junior double majoring in English and political science with a minor in education. She said she has always been drawn to the art of storytelling. A Florida native, she said this love originated from her fifth grade teacher who encouraged her in her ability to write. 

“She’s actually my Godmother now because we have such a close connection,” she said. “She saw a writer in me, and I also have two parents who have really supported my confidence as a writer. It’s a combination of those three people that brought out a love for writing.”

“I really care about storytelling as a whole, so I knew I wanted to pursue that as a career,” she said. “Once I started gaining experience in writing, really diving into my classes and subjects, I started to refine what my major would be.” 

Working mainly in nonfiction writing, her continued passion for storytelling gave her the desire to work within the fiction realm. When the editor position for Thread – USF’s undergraduate literary magazine – opened up, she jumped at the opportunity. She said that working in Thread has given her the opportunity to take her editing skills into a new creative field. 

“Editing for a literary magazine is a really, really unique and exciting experience because I get to deal primarily with other people’s work,” she said.

“The best part of my job is that I get to read the work of so many amazing student creatives. We had almost 200 submissions for the last volume and we engaged with all of them. And that also brings in art, music and photography, which is not something that you get a lot of editing experience and nonfiction realms like the newspaper or otherwise.”

Nikolajski was promoted to editor in chief in fall 2022 alongside her friend Khoury. Khoury joined Thread in fall 2020, and despite all events being online, was still able to find the kind of community she was looking for. 

“I saw an Instagram post about Thread looking for editors to add for their team. I immediately applied, and the only writing sample I had was a literary analysis from high school,” Khoury said. “Somehow, I got an interview and made the team. Ever since, I associate Thread with my college experience because it has been there every step of the way.”

Khoury and Nikolajski split the duties of editor in chief, and said that they are each other’s other half when it comes to running a successful magazine. 

“I’m a little more suited toward the creative writing end of things but [Khoury’s] concentration is literary studies,” Nikolajski said. “So she’s a little bit better about analyzing a piece, whereas I might be better at offering edits. She’s also really, really good with social media, but that’s not necessarily my side. I do design the magazines, that’s where I do the rest of the role and we’re both good at event planning.”

When the two took over, major overhauls to how the organization was run were made. Their biggest goal was bringing in-person events back, as well as getting physical copies of the magazine into the hands of the student body. Because of the changes Khoury and Nikolajski undertook, they have made the magazine a crucial part of the revival sweeping USF’s Creative Writing Department.

“Prior to my entry into thread back in 2020, Thread was a student-run organization,” Nikolajski said. “And they could publish one magazine per year and they sometimes had events. Then when I joined, it was completely virtual. They published one virtual magazine that wasn’t in print and we had no events.”

“So Anna and I decided that we did not want to repeat that year. We wanted to engage with… our USF community, and we wanted to just improve the magazine as a whole and we wanted to do two volumes. So we partnered with Bulls media and we got a much bigger budget for the magazine. We can now publish two volumes and treat both equally.”

Khoury said the changes were made possible through the collaborative efforts of their fellow editors, and the excitement they’ve seen from the student body. 

“It’s been such a big change,” she said. “It makes Thread into a more time-consuming position, but it’s been so cool to see the English community engaging with each other.” 

“I love seeing how the different editors bring their personal backgrounds to how they edit and decide between submissions. We have a team of talented individuals, and they always encouraged me to see pieces differently than my first impression.”

Nikolajski said that while the expansion of Thread has been amazing, it is the community building happening at in-person events that she has been truly inspired by. 

“I’m starting to recognize people from coming to the events,” she said. “I see them on campus and get to talk to them. So it’s a connection for me, but I also like to think that they’re connecting with each other as well. And that’s really, really important when you’re a writer, having that support circle. So it’s really been nice to see this community emerge this year.” 

“I’m really lucky to have had a small hand in it, and to give room for other people to publish their work and to share it with the USF community.”