Why I Write by Amina Aineb

I write a lot about my dreams. Or at least I try to. How can you
describe the surreal beauty of dreams? It’s near impossible. I used to
keep a dream journal. All the sentences are incoherent, all the syntax
just doesn’t flow right. But I can see and feel the dreams perfectly
in my head.

They say you should write everyday instead of waiting for inspiration
to strike. The remarkable things in life happen everyday, meaning you
can remark on everything. There is no “writer’s block” and there will
never be a day when there is nothing else to write about, nothing new
to say. If you are a writer and feel that you can’t write anymore,
it’s because you don’t want to. That’s fine. Go for a walk instead.
Write later.

As hard as it is to write down your dreams, you can also lie about
them, because thank God no one saw them but you. In a dream you open a
cupboard and see an amorphous red shape. Change it to a small doll. Or

Here is why I write. I want to do the world justice with the right
words. I want to show you how good it feels to wake up with the sun on
my face. You probably already know how that feels, but isn’t it
excellent we both experienced it? I want to soak all of this up and
then ring it out into a cup for you to drink, so you’ll be ready. I
want to make you cry until I start crying with you. I want to describe
my mother’s herb roasted chicken and mashed potatoes until you can
taste them in your mouth. I would make dinner for you, but I can’t.
I’m a lousy cook.

Amina Aineb, class of 2017

Why The Spoken Arts Department Is Going To Be Super Cool by Amina Aineb

On the last day of Thanksgiving Break, I was lying on my couch, feeling miserable. I had a cup of steaming hot tea in my lap, three blankets piled on top of me, and my fever was still raging hard. It was about six in the evening, and I had just woken from a brief, disorienting nap when I had wandered into the living room, where my mom and grandma were sitting. They were watching TV and, despite my confusion about who I was or what day it was, I decided to join them.

I could barely focus, but I managed to gather from the blur of shapes on the screen that we were watching a performance by Andrea Bocelli, the famous, blind singer. His eyelids were closed as he leaned into the microphone and sang “Maria” from West Side Story. His voice vibrated and filled the vast theater. And though I’ve never been a fan of musicals, and though I was shaking and near hallucination, I started to cry.

What I realized then was something Heather had told me a long time ago, but I had failed to truly understand what she meant at the time. She said that the human voice was the most beautiful sound ever heard. And I agree. I can’t think of a single animal or force of nature that compares to a person’s voice. We hear it so often that we tend to forget. Just go into a public space, a park, a bus, and just listen to what’s around you. Voices are fascinating. They rise and fall and roll and strike. We have the power to take emotions and assign words and sounds to them. What’s amazing to me is that everyone has different tones and inflections but yet they all serve the same purpose: to articulate what is inside of us.

Obviously, I’m aware that SOTA already has a Vocal Department, but the Spoken Arts branch of Creative Writing will be the first time students will be creating art with special attention to how it is going to sound when performed. And that’s so cool! I hope its freshman year next fall will go alright, because it really is an excellent idea.

Amina Aineb, class of 2017

A Love Note to Miranda July by Amina Aineb

I’ve searched so long for a favorite writer, someone whose work I consistently enjoy. I have favorite books, stories, and poems, but they all come from a myriad of sources. And sadly, all my favorite books lie in the unhelpful “best of” category. I love The Great Gatsby, so I’ve tried reading some of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s other work, but it just never produced the same effect for me. And I have writers I like: for example, I like Haruki Murakami. I mean, I’ve only read three of his books, but I’d be willing to read more. So yeah, technically, I like his writing. My praise stops there usually. I’d be lying if I said that I found complete satisfaction or connection in reading Murakami’s work.

Until recently there hasn’t really been a writer who has reached out to me again and again; I have this relationship with other artists, mainly musicians (a certain quirky individual in particular…who is great at everything…and in an ideal world is my best friend…and his initials are G.A.W—I think we all know who I’m talking about) so it seems odd to me that I’ve loved writing for so long without having a favorite writer. I guess what I’m saying is that there hasn’t been any relationship between a writer and me that is reminiscent of the relationship between Molly and Flannery O’Connor. (But on second thought, I don’t think anyone else can come close to that level of idolization.)

I was introduced to Miranda July by my friend Chaia and coincidentally, Molly. If I remember correctly, I think Miranda July signed her hat at a reading and Molly showed it off to me. In a few days time, as soon as I finish July’s latest novel, I’ll have read all her work. It’s not really a feat since she’s not very prolific, but it’s a first for me to read the entirety of a writer’s available stuff.

So here’s my love note to Miranda July. Ms. July,  I love you. Not really. I don’t know her. But I love how obviously empathetic she is. Based on her writing, she seems to get inside people’s heads so easily. She just somehow understands what makes certain people tick. Most, if not all, of her fiction is written in first person, and she is one of those writers who can find and reinvent people’s voices so easily. Her characters are diverse (they range from nine year old Chinese boys to lonely, middle aged women) and yet similar. I would say they’re underdogs, but I mean this nicely when I say: they’re all losers. The protagonist of her novel The First Bad Man is a lonely, forty-something year old woman named Cheryl who doesn’t wash her cutlery, obsesses over a man twenty two years older than her, and has a chromotherapist (something which I had to Google.)

I find myself rooting for Cheryl, and for all of July’s other protagonists. There’s something so endearing about being a loser. I think we’re all losers, in a way, and I think Ms. July knows this too. Her characters remind me that there’s always going to be a small, passive part of us that just wants to be loved, no matter how cool or independent we may think we are.

I’m not the best at writing characters. Usually I get lazy and they just end up being more eccentric versions of me. But July clearly has the energy to observe and examine the people she confronts, and she shows their inevitable flaws beautifully.

Amina Aineb, class of 2017


On Motivation by Amina Aineb

Sometime during our fiction unit last year, I was talking to Emma E. about how I was unhappy with the stories I’d written so far. She responded that she too hadn’t really produced much from the given prompts, but that the stories she’d written on her free time were alright.

Ok, I don’t remember the exact nature of our conversation, but it was something close to that. What I do remember is being shocked that Emma E. had written stories outside of Creative Writing. And my surprise didn’t surface because I think Emma is lazy (she’s actually one of the most dedicated writers I know), but because I had never thought of writing for myself.

This is bizarre because before I arrived at SOTA, this was all I’d ever do. When ninth grade came around, “writing” became synonymous with “homework”. This isn’t to say that I dislike writing. Of course I do! I just mean that if I was writing something, I would eventually be handing it to Heather for a grade.

This summer I was a part of the California State School of the Arts’ Creative Writing program. It was a life changing experience for many reasons, but one of them was that I immediately felt like I gained liberation in my writing. For the first time in a long time, writing wasn’t connected to school. Nothing was graded, I was there on my own accord, and what I wrote and when I wrote was solely up to me. I quickly got in the habit of writing every day, and thankfully, I’ve kept that habit since returning to the Bay Area, and to school. Of course, I’m still completing and putting my all into my CW assignments, but in addition, I’m writing other stuff for pleasure, and I’ve never felt more motivated in my writing in all my life.

I made the decision this summer that I want to be a writer when I grow up. While I love being in our department every day, I realize that life after high school is looming in front of me. Being a writer usually means being your own boss, and I just hope that my motivation continues to grow and thrive, along with my writing itself.

Amina Aineb, Class of 2017

The photo is of graffiti at the bus stop near my house.


[DR]: 11/7

by Amina (’17)

Today in C-Dub I, we were joined by the delightful company of shadows (in case any of them are reading this, thanks for visiting, and hopefully we didn’t scare you too much), as we continued workshopping poems we all wrote with a special attention to sound and texture. Basically, our whole poetry unit has been based on sound, because as Heather insists, “SOUND IS EVERYTHING!” So, it was interesting to revisit Josie’s, Noa’s, and Olivia’s poetry with that kind of critical eye. I think we had a pretty rewarding workshop experience this week, especially considering all our comments today. Amazingly, seeing as it’s nearly the end of the week, we managed to stay on topic, sans a small tangent on sleep paralysis brought up by Noa’s poem.

On an unrelated note, Justus and I wore the same shirt today. (We didn’t plan it, I promise.)


[DR]: Today in the World of Creative Writing…

by Amina (’17)

CW BrainstormThere comes a time every year (at least, I assume every year—this will be my first actual Creative Writing show as a Creative Writer!) where the entire department must take on the imperative task of coming up with a theme for our fall variety show, one of our best performances in the school year. Today Creative Writing consisted of pure brainstorming, filling up the whiteboard with ideas and brief phrases that would make no sense to anyone other than a Creative Writer (see: “nature of a fence”), and discussing the most entertaining, stimulating, and alluring ideas for our show. Splitting off into small groups, we all expanded on several ideas and proposed them to the rest of the class, then voted on our favorites. We are well on our way to uncovering that perfect theme and, obviously, I can’t spoil anything… but Creative Writing mermen? Definitely a possibility. Be excited, though, because this show will be a great way to kick off this year, and certainly something you won’t want to miss