[DR]: 11/6

by Olivia W. (’16)

Today we started off Creative Writing with a writing exercise, which
is not uncommon, given the nature of the department. Our instructions
were to write about where we were. Not literally, though, unless we
were planning on using that as a metaphorical device. Personally, the
prompt related to something that had passing through my mind. As a
teenager, I am in a constant state of growth, not so much physically
anymore as mentally, spiritually and emotionally. Some adults refer to
the moods of the human adolescent as “phases.” I refer to them as
“being between selves.”

After some time was spent responding to this prompt, we were
encouraged to engage in a group led activity known as bonding, or
“feeling circles” for those envious spectators not included in our
departmental cult. Yes, we bonded over pastries, our department head’s
favorite, these funny little half-madeline half-brownie things. I am
not ashamed to admit the ten of us devoured all twenty four
instantaneously. When this self-led bonding was done with we moved on
to the real work: workshopping. Today we workshopped the first of the
four sophomore poems, which are all heart-wrenching and breath taking.
This may be because I wrote one of them.

Creative writing always has good days. Today was mellow and
fraternal. Tomorrow, i know, will be much the same.

How to Write (the Inconvenient Way)

by Olivia Weaver (’16)
From the Sarah Fontaine Unit

Picture 33

There is no way to write. It happens. Usually, at the most inconvenient of times. Perhaps you are listening to your classmates do speed-reads as you prepare for your show that’s on tomorrow and some hidden dam breaks inside of your head and the words are flowing. You’d like to go and get your writer’s journal, but you’re on next to stage and cue and you have to swallow down all the inspiration and wonder. Words wait for no man.

This is usually how I write. Something happens, maybe someone was particularly witty or I saw something touching, and lines form in my head. They jostle around and mix and swirl, and I do my best to remember them and write them down when I get the chance. I often forget them.

If I know I have a writing assignment due very soon, I read something, or take a walk, or listen to music. I have authors I know will quicken my brain, and there’s a ridiculously large park near my home that I spend a lot of time in. My muse is sought out, poked, prodded, and otherwise bothered until it grudgingly allows me something that might be acceptable. This is how the worst of my poetry is created.

On the rare and delightfully frustrating occasions in which the Muse is ready to work and I am not preoccupied with anything altogether urgent, I find that my hand will not write down anything fast enough. Even now, I am having difficulty putting feelings down on keyboard. But this is also probably because something in my room is on fire and it’s very distracting.

What I’d like to do about writing is simply do it more. I don’t believe that I write enough. I used to feel awfully guilty about this, but I’ve come to be a professional at making excuses and making myself feel better. Sometime I write on the bus; it’s very charming. People think I’m strange or artsy. It’s really just because I haven’t got time anywhere else.

Well, of course I have time, but nobody has time for having time anymore. Why would I write when I could take a shower? I need to sleep, and eat and finish my homework, and take the trash out and also call whatsherface about that thing that happened on Friday. And Christ, I’m not going to be a stereotypical writer and not go out with friends, because we’re going to have a Star Wars marathon and I’ve never seen all the movies completely and I know I never will if I don’t get it done soon.

I should also probably sand my bookshelf and paint it, because at the moment it’s the only piece of furniture in my room that isn’t a dark color. Except for that dresser-thing, but that’s going out as soon as I transfer everything from the top of it to that new desk I got, which has a really scratched up surface but that’s alright because it was free, I think.

Not to mention, tomorrow is Monday and I haven’t picked an outfit. I’d probably end up wearing all black because that’s what I have the most of, but I haven’t done laundry in way too long. Which reminds me…

You probably get the picture. I have a distractable nature, especially when I’m under pressure. It’s a gift, I’d like think. I never stay down for very long.

Something else I’d like to do about my writing? Besides more of it? Well, I certainly wish it was better, but that would require something undiscovered. I’ve certainly come a long way from when I first applied to the Creative Writing program here. I wrote poems that rhymed and my short stories were meandering and plot less. I believed that poetry could just be a jumble of words that sounded cool that people didn’t use very often and brought together and image. I didn’t really attribute writing to producing physical reactions, or emotional, or mental, for that matter. I was blissfully insensitive. I thought I knew what I was doing.

I know now that writing is all about recognition. It’s about someone explaining your feeling to you better than you ever could. It’s pulling something out of you didn’t know was there. As a writer I’m a magician. As an eight grader starting off I was the kind of fool who got his magic kit mail order, waving his plastic baton with a towel tied over his shoulders like a cape.

I still don’t think I have any idea what I’m doing. But that’s better, I think, than wrongly thinking I’m doing it right.


the sky smells pink and hard
when i walk through it in the mornings
the sulfuric dusts the dawn
a fruit-bowl
full rosy belly bent backwards
that loud gray groan inside the skin
pierced and peeling like a salty apple
swollen hot choleric
elderly clouds left over damp winds
scraggle across dimly like some
stale leftover scraps of canvas
just enough to swab up the strokes
i can hear the first few fistfuls of light
faint and wavering like timid bells
then with a clap, the sun heaves up
a heavy head
–Olivia Weaver

Art: the Map of Maturation

by Olivia W. (’16)

I’m the only freshman in my Spanish 5/6 class. I’m not entirely sure how that worked out, but it’s one of my favorite classes, probably for that reason. A few weeks ago, my teacher told me that I had matured. I asked her what she meant, and she replied that I’d been acting less like a freshman and more like a sophomore.

I didn’t notice the change. Well, at least not like I noticed the change from 6th grade or 7th grade. It’s hard for us as human beings to notice change within ourselves unless it’s quite drastic, but there are subtle clues from things we leave behind. I can map my growth from my art. I’m talking about my visual art, the little sketches I ink on the corners of school papers and homework. I can tell just from looking at some small creature doodled in the cranny of some paper what era of my life it came from. This most definitely is true with adult artists as well, but not as quickly.

So much happens in middle school. You are transported to a new world, one you were dimply aware of but not coherently understanding. I learned so much in those three years. I experienced a lot of things for the first time, and because of them I grew. As we get older, there are fewer things for us to newly experience, and we don’t grow as quickly. We may wise up or realize important things, but slowly, gradually. Human beings are always growing, always maturing, but I believe that teenagers and tweens are on a sharp curve of some sort, where everything is going terribly fast. It’s not a roller coaster of ups and downs; it is a roller coaster going the same direction as all life, just a hell of a lot steeper then the rest of the track.

I am a different person than the person I was last week. Something happened, something changed during that time that changed me. I’m not talking about a big thing, I’m talking about something that’s probably ordinary that’s happening to me for the first time. Maybe somebody said something, maybe something ripped or bloomed. I’ve watched my peers change into completely different people since the year started. Unfortunately, it’s not always for the better.

I’m so grateful for my art. I use art the way that people now use cave paintings, to see how far we’ve come. Without art, my younger self would be a complete stranger, a different person, an unrelated species. I can look at photographs from a year ago, and suddenly I remember what I was thinking then, what I was feeling as the camera froze that expression forever, and I can see how far I’ve gone form there. I can read old letters to people, postcards, essays, secret diaries or whatever, and I am amazed by what has changed. I can leaf through old sketchbooks, and sometimes I try to draw an updated version of whatever I find. I thank my art for letting me not lose the bets parts of myself.

What Do You Guys Even Do In Creative Writing?

by Olivia W. (’16)

This is a question I get asked a lot. Nobody ever asks, “What do you even do in band?” because that’s quite obvious, as well as “What do you even do in Visual?” or better yet, “What do you even do in Vocal?”

Nobody asks “what do you guys even do in Media?” or “What do you guys even do in Tech?” (Which I personally think are the most obscurely named departments.)

At SOTA, our departments are named for what they focus on. Band will play their instruments and Visual will conduct visual art and Vocal will be vocal and so on and so forth. Creative Writing is no exception to this rule of thumb.

Or maybe we are.

When I am asked this question or someone just wonders it out loud with no direct reference to me, someone in the vicinity will usually answer “I dunno, they just like, write all day.”

This wonderful misinformation has cleared the road for all of our highly amusing Creative Writing stereotypes. We drink tea all the time, read and write at every chance we get, are sadly underdeveloped and love poetry.

We do have a hot water boiler in class to make tea, I know for a fact that I write poems in math textbooks, and we did conduct poetry circles for a couple of weeks in CW1.

The stereotypes of Creative Writing aren’t a far throw from the truth. They are merely grossly bloated overblown romantic renditions of it.

What do we do in creative writing? Sometimes, we have deep, philosophical discussions. Sometimes we eat cupcakes. Sometimes we watch clips from awfully camp movies. Sometimes I have no idea what is happening.

Creative Writing changes day by day. I can tell you that we have a fall fiction unit, and then comes poetry, and we finish off with playwriting. I can tell you that we have Portfolio checks and Lit Reviews and three shows a year. I can tell you that Heather is our head and everyone loves Isaiah even though my freshman class has no clue who he is. I can tell you that on Friday we went to a Zen monastery and we won field day and that I know the names of everyone in my department and their grade but I cannot tell you what we do. It’s not because it’s a secret, it’s because so many things go on in my department I wouldn’t be able to give you the faintest clue in a novel.

Asking what we do in Creative Writing is like asking a mole what the ground tastes like. If you really wanted to know what the ground tasted like, you should take a bite yourself. Moles don’t eat dirt. They just swim in it.