What You Know

Write what you know…

I was recently prompted to read an article in the New York Times about whether or not ‘writing what you know’ was a piece of wise or unwise advice. Ever since I was little, as young as seven years of age, I found my own experiences to be so much more mundane than the incidents of princesses and talking lions I created in my innocent stories. Furthermore, in the moment, something ridiculous and unique can happen to you, and observers may laugh because they’d never witnessed such a comical moment. However, try telling this same recollection to friends or family afterwards, and they might chuckle… for a moment… just to be polite. So my conclusion: experiences are momentary involvements that are completely distinctive. Perhaps a piece of fiction is more entertaining than a personal remembrance, because a work of fiction can have comparable quality to an in-the-moment experience.

Now… after reading these last two sentences of the above paragraph to my friend, she squinted her eyes at me, pursed her lips together, and said, “that is difficult to swallow”. Rereading those last two sentences myself, I understand her stance because I suppose those last two sentences resembled an equivalent to, ‘memories are insignificant and relaying them to a family member or friend is senseless’. Of course I don’t mean this, and of course memories are important. I’ve had a grandparent die in the last year, and without memories I would not be able to remember birthday parties with him or Christmas’ with him, or the times he attempted to teach me how to parallel park. However, a memory with my grandfather is nothing compared to the actual moment when he put his hands over mine, on the steering wheel, mimicking how I should turn the wheel when sliding my car into a space on the side of the road. Telling this specific story to my friend, could not give that moment justice, for I remember smiling during this moment, my grandfather remaining calm while the previous day, my mother had been red in the face; her frustration had gotten the best of her. This is going to be a strange comparison, but stick with me, and maybe you will understand my perspective. Memories, a piece of fiction, and an in-the-moment experience (an instance) are all like apples. A fruit that I love, and they all taste delicious, but sometimes one apple is better than another one. For example, an instance with my grandfather is sweeter than a memory I recall to my friend. Also, a piece of fiction can be extremely sweet, a mix of exaggeration and a true experience. Nevertheless, they are all similar in that they are stories, and they are all certainly sweet in their own right.

All I mean to say is this- writing what you know may not always be as powerful as writing a story that is based off of truth, that includes colorful language and exaggerated imagery. Fiction does not always have to be a completely new idea. It can be an occurrence built up to its highest potential.

Creativity

What is Creativity?

 Today in my Creative Writing seminar, my professor proposed a question to my class that truly brought on silence. He asked, ‘what is creativity?’, and just like that, such a laid-back question brought us to our knees. In that moment I thought- I’m sure a second grader could answer this question flawlessly, and yet my twenty-year-old self was muzzled. Some know-it-all in my class piped up with sheer confidence- there is no such thing as creativity- and the whole classed booed and jeered… perhaps I was one of the loudest.

What is a creative work of art, a creative song, a creative style of education, a creative way to parent. What classifies something as creative? As the class concluded, and I walked with my friend to our next obligations, I couldn’t help but relive moments in my childhood when I had thought I had succeeded in designing a creative project, and suddenly this ‘creative project’ may have not been so original. My professor stated his opinion, and he said, “… nothing is unique. Everything that exists has stemmed from a past”, and although he made a valid point, it certainly sounded morbid.

I believe in the heart of sunshine. I refuse to accept a life without creativity. I cannot fathom that even minor things such as Power Points I have created in the past or poems I have generated had absolutely no sense of uniqueness. Furthermore, I will not acknowledge that special cards I have written for loved ones on their birthdays or gifts I have purposefully chosen to give my friends on the holidays had no sense of distinctiveness. How depressing would a world be if as individuals, we could not produce creative entities?

In my opinion, people can have creative last names, creative tattoos, and creative childhoods. Creativity is something unique, something you don’t see or observe often. The discussion occurring in my class had me really thrown off my equilibrium, because it truly resulted in the melancholic conclusion that only those who have invented a new device are creative. That cannot be accurate, and luckily this is a subjective clause… someone may have created this computer I am currently typing on, but no one has written this exact essay.

To the creative ones: stand up, because there are people in this world who are demeaning your unique thoughts and distinct actions. I don’t believe many things in life are insignificant, and surely if creativity didn’t exist, people wouldn’t be thrilled with new concepts such as Siri, lettuce-wrapped sandwiches, and the popular phrase amongst Georgia Tech students- dick-face. According to my professor, these wouldn’t be considered creative, for they stemmed from previous inventions. Nevertheless… creativity? Live on.

I am producing creative work every day.

Interview in Progress

That Time I Got Coffee with Jon Sands…

So… that time has not happened yet, but who knows what the future holds. I imagine us basking in the Brooklyn sunshine, maybe sipping lattés under the bridge, and talking about vulgar things… or family and friends. Until then, I got a hold of Sands’ email, and who knows how he views it, but to me, we are beginning an interesting journey together- I have ask him a few personal questions, and at his convenience he is going to respond to my inquiries.

 Our first few words to each other were, “I love your work” (star struck expression*), and he responded with something along the lines of, “I’m a very busy man, but I will be sure to answer your questions!” I had really hoped he would be able to answer my questions sooner rather than later, but truthfully, I am really excited to post our conversation on my blog, once he does get a few free moments to respond.

 School has been busy, and midterms are in full swing. Spring Break actually begins tomorrow, and I could not be happier to be able to set the textbooks aside for at least a few days. I will be making several trips to New York City, and I swear, if I run into Jon Sands (let’s pretend there is a significant chance), I will be speechless, as if I have just run into the beautiful manhood of Colin Farrell’s chest. Regardless, keep an eye out for a very exclusive Jon Sands interview! I do not doubt that it will be candid and entertaining. 

What Do Freshman Write About?

Last Thursday, I had the interesting privilege of sitting in on an afternoon’s English class. I observed the class taught by Dr. Lux, the woman who was my own English professor a few years back. I spent two semesters with her, during my freshman year at Georgia Tech., learning about poetry and poems and figurative language. During her class, I performed, ‘This be the Verse’ by Philip Larkin, and this was the first time the word ‘fuck’ fell so cleanly from my mouth. During these two semesters I recall that I felt especially homesick, and Dr. Lux and I reminisced on the day when I read a handwritten poem aloud to my classmates, balling as the words trickled from my mouth, for I was too nostalgic to gather myself. I learned a great deal in Dr. Lux’s class (she truly sparked my appreciation for poetry), and I was very eager to see how this freshman class responded to poetry.

 On the day that I observed Dr. Lux’s class, I was primarily interested in what topics her students would talk about. As a freshman, due to the fact that I was horribly homesick, the content of my poems solely consisted of mom, dad, sisters, and New Jersey, even Newark Airport, and it was truly fascinating to see that these students were not much different than I was, nearly three years ago. They spoke of their relationships with their mothers, fathers, siblings, and hometowns. They also mentioned their love of home cooked foods, and the traditions of their grandparents. They also spoke of their childhood pets and their favorite hobbies and the places they most felt at ease. It sincerely put the largest of grins on my face, to see that these freshmen students value their homes and the places they come from.  

 It doesn’t shock me that these were the chosen topics of the students. I am not surprised that the one girl, from Boston, in the class prefaced her poem by saying, “since none of you are from the north, you probably aren’t going to understand what I’m saying- GO REDSOCKS.” What truly astonishes me is the freshman student, although not present in this class, who declares that they resent their home life, their mom and dad, and they plan on never returning to the place they grew up. I feel so unhappy for students like those, and I honestly have come across many. Even in Dr. Lux’s class, a few international students read poems about family hardships and difficult decisions families had to make; however, there was still a sense of pride for their loved ones. Personally, I am a true patriot to the place I come from and the people back home who support me. They are all still topics of my poems, even as a junior in college, and probably that is something that will remain stagnant. Freshman year is truly a year of outsized changes and enormous boughs of acclimation. Family appears more important than previous years because without them, fending for yourself seems like someone has stolen a body part from you.

 I suppose some things never change- one’s love for their family, home, home-cooked meals, grandparents, dogs, and the town you grew up.

 XOXO