Over the next few weeks, Culturas will delve into the world of poetry. This series will examine the art form, its rules, and lack thereof through essays, reported stories, and resource lists.
I first fell in love with writing when I was in fourth grade.
Fourth grade was the year we got to attend a week-long writing “camping trip.” We were each instructed to bring a sleeping bag and flashlight that we’d keep at school for the next few days. Each morning, we’d say the Pledge and then lay out our sleeping bags onto the cold, tiled floor to write short stories according to the daily prompts. At the end of the school day, we’d share what we had written.
One day, we had to create a fairytale. I got really into it and wrote about a man named Mesmerism (a word I saw in a thesaurus!) who wrote little bits of poetry for everyone. In the end, he left the neighborhood, leaving behind nothing but a poem. My class loved the poems I wrote and kept asking what “mesmerism” meant.
Another day, we had to write about the last camping trip we went on. I had never been camping before, so I spun a whole story about going to the woods in West Texas in which there were incessant mosquitoes biting my legs and moose invading our campsite. I remember having a hard time reading the whole piece since I couldn’t help but smile hard every time someone laughed at one of the ridiculous details I’d made up.
Until that week, I had never really thought about writing beyond the limits of class assignments. After this “camping trip,” I realized that it was actually my way of connecting. Through my stories, I was able to create worlds that made people laugh. With the poems I had dabbled in, my words were able to spark people’s curiosity. And so ever since that week in fourth grade, I decided I was going to be a writer.
In fifth grade, the class curriculum was more focused on syntax and parts of speech rather than creativity and storytelling. Nevertheless, I kept a description journal that I’d use to describe characters I didn’t have a story for yet or just anything I encountered that was interesting. I wanted to be as observant as possible and use my words purposefully to paint the most perfect picture.
Middle school was different. I started journaling and was writing to document every emotion I had ever felt. I was writing my way out of sadness, doubt, and insecurity. I was writing to properly remember every single detail of any good day I had. I was writing to create a new reality or suspend actual reality a bit longer.
In high school, I fell out of love with writing. It became too hard for me to balance it with everything I had to do for school. During these four years, writing went from being my future profession to a hobby that I couldn’t properly nurture.
Reuniting with Writing
But in college, I found myself creatively unfulfilled. I missed having an outlet or way to properly, fearlessly express myself and eventually, found my way back to writing again. In fact, I turned to writing for all the same reasons I had when I was younger: I turned to it when I wanted to grow when I needed to rest in the comfort of fiction when my emotions needed a dwelling place when I had an experience that made me so overwhelmingly happy, I couldn’t think about anything else. Writing was where I could be the most myself, where I could put my thoughts up to a lens of reflection and sit with them.
Eventually, my reunion with writing helped me make my way to narrative-driven or feature journalism, where my creativity and feelings can coexist with a mission of having words resonate, passing on stories, and empowering the people I inform–where everything important to me can just intersect.
And now, as a 20-year old journalism student, I write this essay sitting next to a bookshelf stuffed with journals. Some are semi-empty, preserved only for the scribble of an idea they have here and there. Others are full of stories from my decade of writing–full of interview questions, quick descriptions of interesting people I saw on the street, dwellings of emotions, love letters, poems, and ideas for stories I’ve yet to delve into.