My road to writing creatively began in perhaps not the most conventional manner. In fact, prior to my first semester as a college junior, the extent of my writing repertoire began and ended with class-assigned essays and lab reports. I always flirted with the concept of writing a book, but who has time for writing recreationally when you don’t even have time to breathe or eat lunch or what have you; and when I did have the time—as far as a plot is concerned—every stone I upended fell flat on the ground where I first found it.
However, what most people don’t know is I struggled pretty heavily with depression from the beginning of my sophomore year in college up until I found myself in my writing. I’ll be the first person to admit that a part of my depression was brought on by overreactions to personal situations, but another part—and the part that was far more substantial—was my rather sluggish realization of trying to be something I wasn’t anymore. As a chemistry major, I began falling into a miserable cycle of waking up—if I got any sleep at all that night—and going through a set routine, eventually to the point that the day of the week constantly escaped me. As I continued to push myself through a discipline that was pulling out what little life I had left within me, the depression became debilitating to the point that I felt crushed under an intense, yet nonexistent, weight. Getting out of bed in the morning was, perhaps, the biggest struggle. Lying in bed, wrapped in my makeshift blanket burrito, with nothing but darkness around me was an aesthetic I wore far too long; everyone knew I was self-destructing, but no one knew why because everyone saw me as I was before—the brainiac with dreams of being a surgeon.
To try to stray away from using platitudes, I won’t accredit writing with saving my life, but that creative writing class in the fall of 2015 was certainly a bright light in an otherwise dark existence. That same year, I made the brave decision to change my major to English and attempt to finish my degree in but a year and a half, something I am proud to say I am completely on track to do despite my late transition.
Since making that brave leap, I’ve found a lot of success. First, I was named a Content Creator for theodysseyonline.com, eventually working to the point where I was brought on as a Contributing Editor for my community. Just a few days after finishing my creative writing class, I submitted a short story and three poems to my college’s literary journal, The Wooden Tooth Review, and all but one poem was published. Shortly after the end of my junior year, I had a few columns published in my local newspaper, Herald Standard, and I was named lead prose editor for The Wooden Tooth Review’s 2017 volume (for which I wrote a new short story and poem, which are being considered for publication). And, that’s when 1932 rolled around.
Although 1932 isn’t my brainchild, I still treat it as if it was. My official titles are Managing Editor of Prose and Social Media Coordinator, but I go far beyond what those positions entail. I pour every inch of myself that I can into making sure that it has a chance at being successful, not just because my name is on it but also because I know how much it means to Layla, who was brave enough to follow her dreams. Our first issue, which will be in print soon (shameless plug), houses one of my short stories—the first piece that I ever wrote. If that’s not a storybook ending to my struggles over the past few years, I don’t know what is.
As far as tips for writing are concerned, I have a few that—much like my story in finding creative fiction—are unconventional, but I try to employ them in every piece I write. The first is that you shouldn’t always give your work a fairytale-style ending. Life doesn’t always end as neatly as Disney movies portray, so you shouldn’t be afraid to capture the evils that we and others around us face. The second is that a blank screen isn’t your worst nightmare; it’s the beginning of something potentially beautiful. Don’t let the absence of words deter you from finding your own. And, lastly, don’t be afraid to use your own experiences to fuel your writing fire. People will respond well to your writing if they can feel emotion exuding from the page.
Dare to be creative, find inspiration in nothing, and make yourselves vulnerable.