For my readers:

I don’t have a large group of followers. I am not a well-known blogger. But that means absolutely nothing to me. Each and every one of you mean something to me. 

When I started this blog I wanted to inspire through the written word and maybe get some things off my chest. I wanted to write more and I wanted to help others write more. What amazes me is how many people actually listened. And responded. And continually kept me going.

My blog isn’t flashy; I rarely include pictures, it’s a huge work in progress but I’m still learning. And despite all that, you all stayed with me. You shared my triumphs and my sorrows and often tried to help me along the way. And for that, I cannot thank you enough.

If I have helped, inspired, or related to a single person in the past 3 1/2 years I’ve had this blog then I have done my job. Keep writing. What you say is important. Your voice matters. Write.  I beg you to keep the written word alive. Find value in the words of others and your own. Write love letters, thank you cards, little reminders, whatever it may be. Words can be the most powerful weapons in the world if we allow them to. So please, WRITE!

This blog has helped me chronicle my journey in a way I never expected. However, I am about to embark on a new journey. By the time this is published, I will have just finished up my last final in my college career and will be counting down the hours until I walk across the stage. I will no longer be able to call myself an English major. But on the good days, I will be able to call myself a writer. 

I hope that you too feel like you have earned the right to call yourself a writer. Even though this blog has run it’s course, I am far from finished. Please visit my new blog, “Confessions of a 20-Something” and follow along if you so wish. I greatly appreciate all of you and everything this blog has provided me over the years.

I love you all.

-Marina

“I write so that people can see the entire universe through the lens of me. I write because I must. And most of all, I write to let those stranded in the darkness know that they are not alone.”

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The Real World?

I’ve decided that there is absolutely no way to truly prepare anyone for “adulthood” or entering the real world. You go to high school to prepare for college. When you’re in college you’re preparing to get a job, or to go to another school where you will prepare to get a job. And then you’re just done. You’re thrown over the fence where they keep all the hungry, snarling dogs and you wonder if you’re actually going to make it out alive.

When we’re in college we are in a little bubble of essays, and exams and eating bad food because that’s all we can afford. And then we are no longer in our bubble. We don’t get to stick our foot in the water and see how it feels. We don’t get to step outside and then quickly come back in. Nope, we are catapulted from our nice, comfortable bubble and told “Good luck” and “Congratulations!” And we’re supposed to just know what to do.  The problem is, we’ve been in schools our whole lives, supposedly preparing for this moment. While we were in those schools we were too busy filling out scantrons and cramming for tests and just trying to make it through the busy week that we didn’t have time to take a step back and really ask what are purpose is in doing all of this? And to ask, “Do I actually feel ready to go into the real world?” “Will the fact that I aced this test mean a damn thing to my future employer?” Or maybe the most important question we can ask ourselves is “Is this really how I want to spend my life?”


Is this really how I want to spend my life?

I just turned in the last essay I will write in my college career. And while it feels as though a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders, I also feel a little heavy hearted.

My relationship with writing has been tumultuous at times. And over the past four years, I have questioned why I am doing this, if I’m any good at it, and more importantly, if I care whether I’m good or not? I have beaten my head against the table trying to reach page limits or word limits or works cited. And I have laid my head down on the same table, just trying to write the words that I was too afraid to say aloud.

Writing has been the bane of my existence and the saving grace in my life. 

And now, I am no longer forced to write. I have no more assignments that require my voice to come through or my thoughts to have some sort of cohesion to them. I have thrown essays away when I saw the grade, only to fish them out later and have a conversation with the teacher. As angry as I was that they could dare give me lower than an A on a essay, those are the teachers I learned the most from. They helped me improve; and more importantly, they humbled me. My writing is better because of the teachers that pissed me off.

The last post for this blog is already being drafted. I find myself having to stop and take breaks to make sure I am really saying what I want to say. I also take breaks to keep from having too many emotions escape. I never thought that I would fall in love with writing the way that I have. 

Pen and paper will always listen. Even if you don’t think you need to talk. When tears come streaming down my face, I turn to pen and paper. Pen and paper will catch your falling tears.

I don’t think I ever fully realized my love for writing until now. When life breaks my heart, or the LSAT breaks me down, I write. And I let myself feel. Even when I reread posts like that I can feel a lump in my throat and a tear forming in my eyes. But that’s what you need to do. That is why I write.

I don’t think I am so passionate about the written word until someone tries to devalue or belittle it. Until someone says, “English, what are you going to do with that degree?!” And even though I know what the job market looks like, I continue to defend my decision and I still believe I made the right choice. Because despite the lack of appreciation for writers and a beautifully composed, emotional piece of writing, I fell in love with writing because of my degree. Despite all our ups and downs, I fell in love with writing.

Your writing voice is the deepest possible reflection of who you are. The job of your voice is not to seduce or flatter or make well-shaped sentences. In your voice, your readers should be able to hear the contents of your mind, your heart, your soul.

For writers

The amount of writing I have done for the past week is absolutely ridiculous. It has all been for academic purposes and it has drained me of all my energy, creative and otherwise. However, today in my Writing and Style class, we wrote a final reflection on the class. The instructor told us that the best way to go about doing this is to write a letter to ourselves 10 years in the future. This took on a different form than I expected it would. Our audience was ourselves, with the teacher eventually reading it as well. And now, it only feels right that I share it with my larger audience. This is especially aimed at any writers. Whether you consider yourself a “writer” or just like to write in your spare time, I hope this will ring true for you.

Dear Marina,

I hope that you have continued to write in any way possible. Carrie Lamanna said at the end of the semester last year that “Each and every one of you have something to say. And each and every one of you has written something that is important and that matters.” And while right now it’s hard to imagine that anyone really cares what you have to say, you at least have to try to get them to care. If you stop caring, so will they. This semester you looked at the word “this” in your own writing so much that it lost its meaning and almost forgot why you were looking at it for so long. Remember the word you are describing needs to be immediately after the “this.” THIS TECHNIQUE is something that has and will continue to make you a stronger writer.

It’s hard to imagine that you’re not still writing at this point. And I mean writing substantially, more than just lists or cards or emails. I mean writing with every ounce of emotion that you do on your blogs or in your profile piece on law school. When you write your emotions and use your voice and put a little piece of yourself into your writing, it tends to be pretty amazing. All those love letters you wrote this year as part of your own challenge to write more, those were moving (if I do say so myself) and that same kind of feeling and devotion is what you should be putting in all your writing. (That is why I say write something more substantial than lists. It’s a little hard to put your heart and soul into a grocery list. Fresh, ripe, and juicy tomatoes – while entertaining, it may be a little over the top).

Remember those sentence imitations that we did and do some now. When you find a sentence that strikes you or that you just fall in love with, write it down and imitate it. You were pretty proud of those sentences too, and you are more than capable of writing them yourself. Write sentences that other writers would want to imitate. Write sentences that people find so striking, they stop reading, look up and think about it, and then they read it again. Write with such meaning and intention that people use your words as quotes.

Above all, just write. That’s what you do and you’re pretty good at it. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. If this class has taught you anything it’s that you can always improve on your writing. And you can always write. The title of this class is Writing and Style. For you, it was more of “Writing and Life” because it helped reinvigorate the writing skills that tend to only show up in your blog posts. While your blogs are great and they are more of a tool for you to write and put it out there when you need to, don’t focus on followers. Even if you only have one follower, that’s one person who cares about what you write and finds value the words you put on a page (or a screen) and that one person should be enough for you to keep writing. Keep using your voice and putting your thoughts and emotions out there. People care. Not everyone, but let’s be honest, you don’t care about what everyone has to say either.

At this point in your life, you’re 31 years old and you probably have children. If you can’t find it in you to write for yourself, write for them. Show them that you are strong enough to use your voice and that they shouldn’t be afraid to do the same. Write them letters for the milestones in their lives. Write blog posts that are dedicated to them. Write on the day that they are born and on their first birthday. And then share your writing with them. Let them see those same pieces of your heart manifest themselves on pages. Let them see that they mean enough to you for you to write to them and about them. Write, share, grow.

Believe in yourself and give future writers the belief that they need because it is quickly becoming a lost art. Use nice paper and ink rather than a screen and some keys. There is no way to improve upon your writing if you don’t do it. If you don’t share your writing, you are not allowing for any kind of constructive criticism. Write, share, grow.

Keep writing. You can do it.

With love,

 

Marina 5/6/14

Happy birthday/anniversary?!

Yesterday, my blog turned one year old! It seems like just yesterday I was creating it! 

Just kidding. Well about the sappy creation line, it really is a year old. 

While I may not have written every day like I wanted to, I had valid reasons. For example, the interenet at my parents house is just not compatible with my computer so for the three months of summer that I was there for my internship, I couldn’t write nearly as easily or as much as I wanted to. And secondly, I have another blog.  It is for my Writing in Online Environments class so it is themed and targeted for a different audience. But if you are interested in baking, you can feel free to follow my baking blog. It’s supposed to be fun and cute and is still a work in progress so be nice!

The thing that suprises me most about this blog is that I have 100 followers, and I know that that number is nothing compared to other blogs that have been up and running for a year, but for me, the fact that even one person cares enough about what I have to write to follow up on it, is amazing. I am not a professional blogger or writer, I am just a college student who writes when I have time and when I feel inspired, so I am pretty proud of myself. 

Thank you to all my wonderful followers, and those who read my writing even without clicking the “Follow this blog” button. You all keep me going. 

Happy Birthday Blog! 

I am an English Major

I am an English major. 

And I hate that every time I say that, I feel the urge to immediately justify myself to people. 

Let me explain why I am an English major. 

I was lucky enough to be able to explore different options and do different things when I was growing up to figure out what I liked, what I was good at, etc. I had a modeling agent for a year when I was in high school. I am not tall enough or patient enough to model. I studied fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York for a summer. I am pretty good, but still, designing just wasn’t for me. 

In high school, math was nemesis and science wasn’t far behind. I did love my AP Government class though. I grew up in a family that talked about current events and politics and I had a teacher who made learning exciting. However, I  was also good at writing. Or so I was told. I was a section editor for the school magazine, on yearbook and newspaper staff and posted some of my writing on Facebook occasionally. Most of the compliments were from my friends though so I assumed they were just being nice. Until I posted more personal, emotional things.  And then I got responses from the most unexpected people, all positive and inspiring. But I was still interested in debates and the law. So I asked my AP Government teacher, who dropped out of law school, if I realistically had a shot at being a lawyer. And he said “Definitely.” He also told me that the most sought after degree for a lot of law schools today is English. So I decided on a major in English, concentration in writing and a minor in Political Science, all with a pre-law focus. 

That being said, I would like to believe that I’m pretty good at what I do. 

When I tell people I’m an English major, I brace myself. I’ve heard, “Yeah but aren’t you taking any real classes?” or “So you’re learning how to say ‘Would you like fries with that?'” or “So what you read novels all day?” 

Yes. I am taking “real” classes and I do have to read novels for some of my classes. But that is not everything that I have to do. My hardest paper in college thus far was for my Poetry class. I had to write 5 pages on how the rhythm affects meaning using Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18. (Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day…) 

Now many people, especially those who aren’t as acquainted with poetry, confuse rhythm with rhyme scheme or sound. Let me be clear, rhythm is the stressed and unstressed syllables of words. I doubt many of you science majors who think that your work is harder than mine can tell me how stressed syllables affect the meaning of a poem. 

I’m not trying to degrade anyone’s major. I will most likely not find a cure to cancer, or send a rocket in to the atmosphere or solve the economic problems in America. But don’t you dare say that English classes are not as hard as any other class. Everyone has their strengths. 

As an English major, my long term goal is to be a lawyer. I know how to analyze and how to argue effectively and break down another argument. However, if that plan falls through, I have other options. I can write. I can teach. I can analyze. I can critique. And I can continue to learn. Don’t ever doubt me. You will only fuel my fire more. 

So yes, I read great novels in my classes. I also read historical documents. I argue, I analyze, I write. I emphasize, research and learn. I am an English major. 

And wherever this life ends up taking me, I will always proudly say that I was an English major. 

While I could go on forever about how my major is just as important as anyone else’s and how no one has the right to say otherwise. I will leave you with a quote from a great writer, that I relate to immensely: 

“And though she be but little, she is fierce.” -William Shakespeare

Inspiration

I used to inspire people.

I used to move people to tears with my writing.

I don’t feel like I do that anymore and I don’t know why.

I would say that it is due to the fact that I’m actually happy in my life right now but some of my best writing was not always necessarily about sad topics. And I admit that while I’ve been on Winter Break I haven’t been writing as much, it’s not because I have run out of things to say, it’s mainly because I haven’t had my computer open everyday like I do during the semester. And there’s the idea that I have in my head that nobody really cares what I have to say anymore. Or that they don’t read it. To some extent, that’s fine, I don’t write for other people 99% of the time. I write for myself, but sometimes I do need feedback on it. Whether it’s good or bad, I want to know that I caused a reaction or that I sparked an idea, an emotion, a thought in someone’s head.

How can I inspire? How can I  be more inspired?