The Mind of an Enclosed Writer by Tiffany Dong

If I were to describe Creative Writing as one of the new freshmen in six words, it’d be out-of-my-comfort-zone. The sixth word containing my internal scream when I am called on to read my writing out loud in front of others. There were two separate departments— one specifically designated for spoken arts, so my naivety gave me the idea that there would be no speaking or talking required. 

Before fully diving into the gist of Creative Writing, I had the opportunity to attend summer courses for poetry, fiction, autobiography, and more, where I met the upperclassmen prior to the start of the school year. This allowed me the chance to question them about what to expect, despite the given circumstances and differences they had when they experienced Creative Writing and my upcoming online distance learning experience. They warned me about the major requirements, of course– where the aspect of workshopping played into the part of what to expect. As a middle schooler who has freshly emerged out of the habit of blending in with the crowd and never taking the initiative to voice my ideas, Creative Writing was a scare. Therefore, I’m thankful to have something that prepared me for the upcoming monitory that I call “workshopping.” It is a knee-buckling, stomach-churning, and head-spinning sound. Though, nothing is worse than the word, “presenting.” Both workshopping and presenting enable you to showcase your personal work to others. That was a problem. Surely, writing is also quite personal to me where it was considered as my safe space. To have people claw into that space felt like an invasion of privacy or comfort. Of course, that’s what I used to think. I despised the simple idea of a pair of eyes scanning through my work, so it would make sense that I can’t possibly stand a group of people thoroughly analyzing them. Writing here is a crucial passion that lives in every one of us in this department, and we all have our own definition or sacred relationship with writing. 

Heather, the department head once said, “To show your writing is to show your vulnerability and open yourself up.” Even that took a lot of understanding and time to grasp that concept as someone who constantly struggles with the idea of opening up. Now, during this time of distance learning, I realized it is dire to be understanding of our given circumstances. I may not be meeting my upper-classmen face to face this year and that already sets a blockage between us. Through a screen, it is already difficult enough to communicate and genuinely become a part of this writing community, who’s always been supportive and patient regardless. 

It took a lot of mustering up the courage to fully become adjusted to this new environment with many new faces. But as of right now, I’ve decided this is a turning point to finally take a step out of this little bubble I’ve barricaded myself in.

Tiffany Dong (Class of ’24)

The Mentor(s) by Clare Sabry

Today was MLK day so school was not in session. Thus I had time to mull over what I wanted to write for this blog post, and somehow landed on the subject of mentoring. All of us in Creative Writing know how great Heather, Maia, and Isaiah are as mentors. They lead us through thick and thin in our art and help us to create and improve and learn about so many things. They teach me like my middle school geometry teacher never could (or perhaps never tried to) in a way that truly makes an impact.

I’ve spent now more than two and a half years with these people, but sometimes it takes stepping back and reflecting to realize how much they have influenced who I have become. Now I wouldn’t say I am much of a playwright, or that I would gladly write a book of poetry, but dabbling in and traversing these arts through writing, reading, watching, and listening, has given me a stronger understanding of how I write and how I can improve while still retaining my own voice.

It’s a humbling experience, one that I have discussed with many of my peers, because no matter how far we have come, there is still more to achieve, more strange surrealist ballads from Maia, or absurdist films from Isaiah or another of Heather’s never-ending supply of books. I am more than halfway through High School, but I can’t see the end of my Creative Writing journey. I know that the mentors I have come to know and the friends I have come to make will surround me for much longer than four years of secondary education.

Clare Sabry, class of 2017

The Nature of CW

 

Dear Department:

I was so proud of you all last night!

Our emphasis on community clearly makes us comfortable and confident working with each other. This reading performance was our most collaborative to date and sets a precedent for our fall shows. There was a real exchange of ideas as we all worked together and the results were much richer for it.

Our department has always had particular traits that characterized who we are and I have discovered that a collective sense of humor is one of them. For one thing, we all work smart. Our skits were funny because they were witty–language is always at the center.

I was struck by how your individual pieces revealed distinct voices that spoke to those things that really matter to you. This reading performance had a strong feminist current and there was such power in it! Many people told me how impressed they were with the intelligence, humor, and strength of the show. A particularly lovely, rather elegant older woman told me that she had long wanted to shave her head and that Hosanna had inspired her to finally do so.

The successful incorporation of other arts and the effort put into the  staging and pacing created the most professional show to date. We owe this professionalism to Tony, Carol, and Rachel, whose own varied arts backgrounds were an enormous contribution–as were Isaiah’s poster, flier, and program design. Many people made a point of telling me it was their favorite CW show to date–including our principal, who was sitting behind me. I will add that this was the first rehearsal week where no one asked to leave early: everyone was completely engaged with the reading as a whole, rather than his or her specific part in it.

I had planned for us to begin our fiction unit Monday, but I have decided we deserve a down day to talk about the show and enjoy our success. I also want for us to begin talking about our upcoming performances. We did a number of things right this time and have learned where we can do even do.

“The Nature of Offense” made the most money we have ever made on a CW performance. As many of you know, the theater holds 350 seats. After we filled them, Kwapy and the techies quickly retrieved forty more chairs to accommodate the over-sale. Tech, by the way, was AWESOME and we are going to go upstairs on Monday and thank them in person. We also are in debt to photographer Heidi Alletzhauser for her professional support. We should be seeing her photos up on our blogsite soon! (Photos from the show can be found here.)

Our Creative Writing Department also includes our parents. We are all completely invested in our community and it shows. Karen Saux and Julie Glantz worked nonstop on our show. Susan Williams and others posted fliers in their neighborhoods. Esther Honda, Jeanette Given, and Sue Weaver provided meals and snacks. Kevin Mogg was our trusty pizza guy and Gary Mankin once again supplied his sound expertise. Nancy Allegria printed the programs. Many wonderful parents supplied the front-of-house support without which we could not have a performance (unless the show was titled “The Nature of Anarchy”).

In the past four-and-a-half weeks CW has won Field Day, had a terrific Kirby Cove trip, and has just completed its highest-grossing and possibly best show to date. And the Giants are in the League Championships! All this and it’s only mid-October!

Keep on trucking! (I can’t believe I just wrote that.)

Love,
Heather