Starting My Thesis by Julieta Roll

As a senior I’ve begun the ultimate task, I’m writing my thesis. All Creative Writing seniors are required to write a larger body of work as a final project, a last hurrah in the department. The thesis I’d like to think represents everything you’ve worked for as an art student. You completed four years in Creative Writing, so what? A thesis answers that question, encompassing the talent you’ve gained in the form of stories you want to tell.

   I won’t say the journey to a thesis is easy though. I am only starting my writing process, and there have already been some bumps in the road. I think the difficulty originates in pinpointing what exactly you want to focus on. Topics and themes can be broad of course, but the thesis has to be cohesive; the writing has to connect and talk to each other. I, for example, plan to write a series of short stories all within the genre of magical realism. I chose this idea not only because I love magical realism but because I felt my best work could come out of a surreal world. I knew to explore what could be off about a universe would fuel my motivation more than writing realistic fiction.

   I cannot express my gratitude more to the Creative Writing Department. My high school experience has been indescribably special, and my thesis can only begin to articulate that uniqueness. Senior year is a year of finalizing everything which is both terrifying and exciting. I can’t wait to see what these next eight months bring.

Julieta Roll
Class of 2019

Overcoming Stagefright by Julieta Roll

Every year Creative Writing has a playwriting show. We select around ten plays from our playwriting unit to produce, all of which are performed by us. By no means is Creative Writing a master of theatre, but in my three years in the department I have become infinitely more comfortable with the stage.

I have never been an outgoing person. As a child I would often cower, begging not to be seen. Now as a teenager I have taught myself to be in the spotlight, to be accepting of attention. Creative Writing has taken my humility, in a good way. I have learned that I can’t spend so much time worrying about what others think of me. I should act as I wish, be completely myself. As much as that sounds cheesy the Creative Writing shows have truly aided me in reaching that confidence. For rehearsal week we have to spend hours on stage, fully becoming our characters and yelling at the top of our lungs. The process can be overwhelming yet it has pushed me to explore my abilities in performance. I have no choice but to play the role I have been given and give it all I have.

In this year’s playwriting show I played the role of a maleficent bird. As I looked through the dialogue I would have to memorize and the cues I would have to learn I felt that familiar surge of panic. The feeling of ​stagefright ​and worry. ‘I can’t do this’ I thought, thinking of myself up there on the stage, everyone staring. Yet, rehearsal week arrived and I knew there was no backing out. I would play a bird, a pretentious demanding bird, a bird that was quite the opposite of myself. Like all the years past I memorized I went through grueling rehearsal and when the moment finally came to walk on stage I felt that pumping adrenaline fuel my body. One thing I always remember about being on stage is how quiet it feels. You become consciousness of how many people can watch you at once, waiting for your words. As always, the play continued and as if on autopilot I said my lines and walked off stage. “I just did that” I thought as I often think when I finish a performance. I had enough confidence to go up there. I demanded attention.

Julieta Roll, class of 2019

Learning How to Drive by Juliet Roll

Recently in my junior year I have begun my venture into the world of the American streets. By that I mean I have begun learning how to drive. I’ll be honest, it’s been rough. The cinematic scene of the teenage girl hitting the road seems far from my reality of jerky steering and lurching halts at the red light. No, it hasn’t been easy, but I think driving has given me a whole new perspective on my position in the world.

As a passenger, your perspective is passive. You lean your head against the window and you watch your neighborhood go by. The movement of the cars around you appears timed and orderly and jeez! Why can’t your dad just park in one go? But as a new driver having that control is unnatural and horrifying. You suddenly have to think about every move you make, the cars around you, and how to get to where you’re going. It’s scary, especially being aware that you could get into an accident, but I’ve learned to be more observant. As a writer, detail and specificity are so important. When I’m driving I find myself focusing on the color of every sign, how each pedestrian walks, and the layout of every block. Driving has given me a new freedom and I can go through the world so differently from how I did before. I feel this is truly the transition from my childhood to my adulthood.

Julieta Roll, class of 2019

Upperclassman by Julieta Roll

As I enter my junior year I have realized the transition from being an underclassman to an
upperclassman. Although the shift was subtle at first, the piling homework and endless SAT prep
soon had me face to face with the responsibility of being an 11th grader. Even if I don’t want it,
I’m getting older, and that means change. I still can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that I’m going to college in a few years. Such a large transition seems almost traumatic, but I am
reassured in the fact that many students have done this before me.

I realize with being an upperclassman I understand things more. I have a map of the school in my head, I’ve learned how to take notes, most importantly I feel my writing has improved. What
Heather says is true, writing is rewriting. In order to create finished pieces I’ve had to workshop.
I’ve had to restructure sentences over and over again until I’ve felt crazy. It’s a painful process
but it’s a necessary process. As a junior I understand that, and I understand how vital it’s been in
my development. If it wasn’t for the Creative Writing Department I’d still be writing how I did
in the 8th grade, and oh! How sad that would be! I think this is true for most students at SOTA.
We spend half our days practicing, analyzing, and we get better. I guarantee you any senior who
looks back on their freshman work is going to cringe, but that’s part of the process. It’s how we
learn. It may be in three years time I look back on this very blog post and think, “Geez! What a
loser!” But that’s okay because I’ll know I’ve improved.

I think I’m trying to take junior year day by day. One thing I know is I’m going to keep writing,
and I’m going to keep rewriting. Hopefully soon I can find balance. Between my art, between
my academics, and within myself.

Julieta Roll, class of 2019

Julieta Roll reads onstage with California Poet Laureate

CW’s own Juli Roll, as San Francisco champion of the annual Poetry Out Loud competition, is appearing onstage tonight at the Mechanic’s Library with California’s Poet Laureate, Dana Gioia, at an event celebrating National Poetry Month.

From the Mechanic’s Library Website:

Mechanics’ Institute is honored to welcome consummate poet and arts advocate Dana Gioia as guest of honor to celebrate National Poetry Month. He will read and talk about his latest collection, 99 Poems: New and Selected. He will share his experiences traveling to communities and schools throughout California’s 58 counties to engage people of all ages in the pleasures and inspiration of poetry. Book sale and signing will follow the program.

Dana Gioia will be joined by Julieta Fuentes Roll, Poetry Out Loud Champion for San Francisco County and a student at the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts; and Margo Perin, San Francisco County Poetry Out Loud Coordinator.

Reflection on Marina Abramović by Julieta Roll

Marina Abramović is a Serbian performance artist born in Yugoslavia. In her nearly five decade career she has preformed radical and questionable feats pushing and defying the limit for
what art can be and what performance art can be. I went to see her talk with City Arts and Lectures, a privilege I had been given through the Creative Writing Department. It was at the Nourse Theatre with interviewer and mediator Maria Popova. I was completely blown away by this women. I was seated in in the balcony, straining to see the large yellow-lighted stage where the two women sat facing the audience in large upholstered chairs. They seemed so far away but when Marina Abramović spoke her voice echoed powerfully and filled the theatre space making her seem close, nearly touchable.

Some of Abramović’s most significant work includes “The Artist is Present” and “Rhythm 5” among others. “The Artist is Present” (2010) was shown in the New York’s MoMa where Abramović sat unmoving in a chair, a table and another chair opposite her. Visitors were welcomed to sit across from Abramović where she would simply maintain stable eye contact with the guest until they left. The piece lasted 750 hours, stretching over several months and thousands of people waited in line to sit across from the famous performance artist.

In “Rhythm 5” (1974) Abramović constructed a wooden star in which she soaked in petroleum, sprawled in the center of, and set on fire. The piece was brought out of Abramović’s thoughts on the strict Communist government that Yugoslavia lived under. In the interview she talked about how the Communist star was everywhere growing up: on buildings, in her house, on her birth certificate, and how she wanted to get rid of it, how she wanted to “burn it” so it was no longer apart of her. She also discussed while performing “Rhythm 5” she fell unconscious due to

the lack of oxygen in the burning star and how this frustrated her. She felt she had lost control and was angry at the fact that the body had limitations. I thought Abramović’s work raised the question “What is art?” and “Why is this art?” as her pieces were so unfocused from the traditional lense of the fine arts and even modern arts.

“I learned very early if you want to be an artist, not to compromise….I make my work without any compromise” said Abramović as she discussed the struggles she faced trying to become successful through her performance art. “The plumber had more money than the performance artists” she remarked. This inspired me greatly, to see a women who had come from so little and had made her way to place where she could talk freely about her ideas and create what she wanted. She spoke with such wisdom and gracefulness her words kept the audience at an attentive silence. I was extremely engaged the entirety of the talk, Abramović charismatic personality wrapping me and afterwards leaving me with more questions than I began with. Although this wasn’t a usual reading I did not exit any less inspired.

Julieta Roll, class of 2019

Poetry? by Julieta Roll

In Creative Writing we are currently in our Poetry Unit. This means that at the beginning of art CW 2 (seniors and juniors) and CW 1 (sophomores and freshman) split and go into their own classes to study and learn about the broad exhilarating topic of poetry. I am in CW 1, I’m a freshman, and I have to say at first I had my doubts about poetry. I never thought I was any good at it, and found writing a poem stressful, like I had to make each line fit in it’s exact place so it sounded right. In the CW 1 Unit we’ve been analyzing mountains of poetry, and I’ve discovered and read so many poets I’d never even heard of. I feel I’ve been opened up, and I’ve been quite enjoying sitting down every night and writing a poem. I think it’s because I’ve found that poetry is freedom to me. I can write whatever I want and it feels personal and contains a lot of meaning. It’s like my own little seashell. When people would ask if I liked to write poetry or fiction better my response would always be ‘fiction’ no doubt about it, but now I’m rethinking. I know I still have a lot to learn about writing and I feel I shouldn’t rope myself to one type of writing or the other just yet but it was interesting to me to how easily I sunk into poetry. We’ll just have to see what happens.

Julieta Roll, class of 2019

Auditions & Doubts by Julieta Roll

Every Tuesday and Thursday for the most couple months has been shadow day at SOTA. This means that around 1 o’clock pm every department receives a handful of ‘shadows’. Shadows are 8th graders who are interested in the department and come to visit the school for a day. They sit in with us during the art block and ‘shadow’ a student, usually a 9th grader.

Every Tuesday and Thursday that I am reminded that not to long ago I was a shadow, and a scared 8th grader who wanted to apply to the Creative Writing Department. Seeing the new group of people interested in CW it makes me reflect, and as the due date for the portfolios approach I can not help but remember my experience applying to this department. I often look back and try to remember my audition process, but all I can really recall feeling is nervous, and wondering if my writing was any good, and if it was even a good idea to apply in the first place. It is these doubts that we all feel that get us down and prevent us from doing things we want to do.

For all those applying to the department the advice I give you is to not be doubtful of yourself and your writing. If things don’t work out the way you want them to it shouldn’t stop you from continuing your interests, especially if that interest is writing.

Julieta Roll, class of 2019

Teenage Girl Meets Disco Ball by Julieta Roll

In the fourteen years I have been alive I have never stepped in, nor even been near a nightclub. Wow, crazy right? Yeah, the whole idea of going to a ‘club’ when I’m twenty-one and doing whatever it is twenty-one year olds do I had never really thought about until a few days ago. It was Tuesday (Sep 29) when Maia Ipp came into our Creative Writing Class and announced that we and the entirety of SOTA had been invited to an event called Mercury Soul. Mercury Soul for those of you who are uninformed is a concert of live electronica music and classical orchestra mixed together. The idea of the event is that you’re taking two types of music (electronica and classic) that are very much on opposite ends of the spectrum and mixing them together into one soup of sound. I was intrigued by the idea and thought it sounded exciting. So, as expected, the whole freshman class and Harmony (‘18) decided we would go all together on one big Friday night outing. We also settled on the idea that after our time at the club we would walk to The San Francisco Art Institute where we would participate in Cine Club, but that’s besides the point.

Mercury Soul was located at Ruby Skye, a club space near North Beach. The place is usually meant for only twenty-one and older but this night was the exception. The whole experience was fun and crazy. The night was filled with blue disco lights, bass strings being sprung at the notes of electronic music, and the smell of teenage sweat. I have never been the kind of girl who just starts dancing at events like these with confidence and grace. I’ve always felt awkward and the self-consciousness can really get to you at times. As a writer, I’ve always felt more comfortable inside my own head and notebook. Social skills are not my forte and I’m perfectly happy when I’m alone with my book. This isn’t to say I don’t love having friends and being with the artistic minds of people at SOTA because I do. Since being the Creative Writing Department I’ve noticed there is this stereotype that other people have of what a writer is. That where all introverts who stay inside all day, hunch over our notebooks and read. I find this funny, because in some ways this stereotype this very true, and it’s true in a good way. Everyone I’ve meet in Creative Writing is so unique and intelligent and I feel we’re all just a bunch of weirdos who like making our own paths. That’s a good thing, being unique is important, and it’s something very valuable when you’re a writer. At Mercury Soul I felt I was too able to loosen up and be myself. I was able to just dance to the music, only being with the people I love and who I know love me.

Julieta Roll, Class of 2019