Severed Ties

kinley's bp picNear the end of my sophomore year, I felt very distant from the work I was producing and my creative writing classes in general. Nothing really drastic happened, I just woke up one day and no longer wanted to write. I’ve found that it sometimes happens that way. Something in me had severed the connection I’d felt in holding a pencil to a piece of paper, and I didn’t have the energy to reconnect the ties. I got through the rest of the year emotionlessly, and that was that. At the start of the summer I spoke to my mom about the way I was feeling and about switching schools. It didn’t feel right to continue at the school when someone new could take my place, someone who stepped into the writing classrooms and felt a purpose. I didn’t feel that way anymore. I wanted to leave. And I was going to; my mom agreed that if by the middle of the summer I still felt the same way we’d look into different schooling options for me.

I tried my hardest to get back into writing that summer. I bought multiple journals took time throughout the day to free write but never saw any potential. Mid-summer came and I still felt distant from myself as a writer. Somewhere along the way, however, I’d let my mom talk me into staying at Douglas Anderson and giving it one last try. She said if I hated it after the first couple of weeks I didn’t have to stay. She knew how happy the school made me and didn’t want to see me give that up. I didn’t hate Douglas Anderson, I just felt guilty for taking someone else’s spot there. The idea of leaving really hurt, which is why I allowed my mom to change my mind.

The first day I walked into my poetry class on the first day of junior year, the shift was almost immediate. I’m still not completely sure what it was, but I knew that the year was going to be different, and a part of me knew I wouldn’t leave after all. After a couple of weeks, I realized what the problem had been; people. I had surrounded myself with negative people, who had already lost their connection with writing and no longer cared about what they did. They wrote meaningless pieces and turned them on. As a very easily influenced person, I let that state of mind slip into me and I became that. Once I realized this, I dedicated myself to working harder and pushing myself to love my art again. It took me two full notebooks of writing before I decided I could call myself a writer again. I think I would’ve gotten there sooner, but I didn’t fully trust that the connection was real. In the end, though, I realized how lost I had felt without writing. That’s what made me see that it was real; once I no longer felt lost, when I knew who I was again, I was a writer.

Kinley Dozier, Managing Editor

Literary Warmth

PICTURE JacobWriters have a reputation for being cold. The writer spends his days at a desk working the same words into different orders, avoiding other people so he can concentrate, obsessing over titles, obsessing over the few experiences he has with the outside world, obsessing obsessing obsessing. The nights are the same, but darker, mixed with images of the tortured soul. Addiction, insomnia, and night terrors are common. The writer is alone, is misanthropic, is sarcastic and mean, is cold. The stereotype is half the story; the warmer side of the literary life is rarely thought of.

The misconceptions of writing are clear to anyone who lives a creative life. No writer gets by spending all his time alone with words. The world itself is necessary for details in poems, characters in stories, and the plot itself in creative nonfiction. Not every writer is tortured. Conflicted over his emotions? Of course. Obsessive? At times. Insomnaic? Well, if you’re working on a piece and sleep gets in the way…. But, overall, the writer must not be an emotional/psychological wreck. Not every decision needs obsession, not every poem means sleepless nights, and not every writer is an alcoholic. Even those who were made it a rule not to write while drunk—the process itself was plain and untortured.

Which leaves the warmth of writing. The moments when the writer realizes the music of a phrase or sentence, the times when characters come alive, the times when a plot twist seems to suggest itself. And the warmth isn’t just related to craft—it comes from those moments when he reads another writer that confirms a belief he’s always had but never known how to express, when he rereads a book from his childhood, when he sits down after a long day to do something he loves—to follow a passion as fully as possible. The relationships formed from thinking so carefully about emotions, the dedication to work gained from reading and passion, the optimism from affirming that life is worth living, is complete, can be beautiful—these are some of the warmest experiences a person can have, and they all stem from writing.

Let the stereotype of the tortured writer rest. Focus instead on those comfortable images—that warmth hiding behind the emotional façade. Affirm that life is good and happy. And write about it.

-Jacob Dvorak, Senior Fiction Editor