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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Communications alum finds joy in ‘helping people tell their own stories’ via memoirs

Katie Dakan poses for a photo. (Photo courtesy of Dakan)

Katie Dakan has always been drawn to reading memoirs — and now she gets to edit them.

Dakan, a Wichita State graduate, works as an editor on contract for Quiet Storms Services, a Wichita-based hybrid publishing company. She got her first chance to edit a memoir in 2021, the same year she earned her degree in integrated marketing communications.

“Being Wichita Women” is described as a “collaborative anthology” featuring over 30 local women’s stories exploring trauma, adversity, resilience and healing.

Danielle Ramirez, the owner of Quiet Storms Services who compiled the anthology, had wanted a student editor to give them greater “exposure.” Ramirez said Dakan serving as editor was “a dream come true.”

“We needed somebody who had really strong editing skills but could also work with people in a gentle enough way to respect the journey that they’ve been on, but also to honor their own voice and their writing,” Ramirez said. “She was the person that did that for us.”

Dakan said she intentionally adopted that mindset — not wanting “to do too much” but still guiding the authors to tell their stories effectively. She met with each author and gave suggestions.

“These weren’t easy stories to share by any means, so (the fact) that everyone trusted me with that … it was a very impactful experience,” Dakan said.

“Being Wichita Women,” published in June 2022, also features a story by Dakan, which is titled “Just Keep Rolling: My Silly Little Disability Pride Story.” 

Ramirez asked Dakan if she would contribute to the anthology after reading the writing sample Dakan had submitted with her editor application.

That writing sample had initially been homework written for Dakan’s honors class. The personal narrative detailed her experience as a disabled college student during the COVID-19 pandemic and how she connected with disability advocates and other people with disabilities through a virtual event.

“I think it was important to my journey to talk to people and hear from people and work with people who … are trying to fight for the same things that I would want,” Dakan, who has distal spinal muscular atrophy, said. “I think maybe, too, the pandemic lit something inside of me … that experience of seeing primarily disabled people affected and left out from society.”

While Dakan admitted she hasn’t read her story in “Being Wichita Women” since finishing it, she said it told her story of growing up with a disability, one that she handled with humor.

“(It’s) a perspective on disability that — it’s not tragedy,” Dakan said. “It’s like, people just out here, living their best lives (and) growing.”

When Ramirez started Quiet Storm Services, she said Dakan was “at the top of my list of editors” to continue working with based on “her relationship skills with authors.”

“She’s got something about her that draws people towards her,” Ramirez said.

Dakan has recently edited two memoirs for Quiet Storm Services. She said it’s exciting to see Ramirez’s publishing company taking off, and she has enjoyed its specific emphasis on memoirs.

“I love helping people tell their own stories,” Dakan said. “I think that’s a cool part of it because with fiction, it’s a different story, but if it’s a memoir, it’s their story, and it’s personal and important to them.”

Dakan has also previously contributed to a blog geared toward young people with disabilities, which she said might’ve helped her deal with internalized ableism as a teenager while on her journey of acceptance. While the platform took a hiatus, she said it is starting up again, and she hopes to do more work for it.

“I was excited to even to start being even a small part of creating media about topics I would’ve wanted to see,” Dakan said.

In the meantime, Dakan said she has been happy with the balance between her day job and her freelance editing work and still strives for the editing approach she used in “Being Wichita Woman.”

“I want them (writers) to end up with a product that they’re proud of, and that reflects their voice but also tells the story the way the story deserves to be told,” Dakan said.

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About the Contributor
Courtney Brown
Courtney Brown, News Editor
Courtney Brown is one of the news editors for The Sunflower. She previously worked as a reporter and assistant news editor. Brown uses she/her pronouns.

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