Since we’re approaching the end of the Spring semester, it’s time to hear what the English public relations interns have to say! Today, Taylor tells us about her experiences as an English student — both inside and outside the classroom.
I got my job as an English department secretary a few weeks before I started my freshman year of college. The office was inviting, my co-workers and bosses were friendly, and every day that I worked behind the front desk, I found myself meeting people, students, staff, and professors — all intimidatingly smarter than I was in every aspect of life.
I spent my first year hiding behind that front desk, watching clubs organize events I refused to go to, hearing about readings in local coffee shops I’d most certainly miss, and poetry competitions I would never dream of competing in. I got into the habit of staying behind the scenes, of appreciating my department at a distance. The more time I spent behind the desk, avoiding these opportunities, the more I craved to be involved in them.
I was writing, sure, but I wasn’t showing it to anyone. I was reading, definitely, but I didn’t want to talk about my experiences with anyone outside of my painfully disinterested friend group.
Outside of class and work, I was the lone English major surrounded by people who were looking to go into the medical field, or studying fashion, or business, or telecommunications. I kept to myself, only shared academic essays with my professor, and kept my collection of unpolished writing to myself.
I took Intro to Creative Writing my sophomore year with John King, and I have never written more than I did that semester. Personal essays, poems, screenplays, flash pieces, memoirs — I threw myself into all of it. The desire to write became this strange, feverish desperation.
With workshopping and class critiques, I not only had a platform to read what I’d spent so many years hiding in my hard drive, but I had a chance to make my work better. I had nineteen people, all kind but honest, telling me how I could improve my craft.
I’m still friends with some of the people in that class. We still pass each other in the halls of Robert Bell, still smile and wave — even if we’ve forgotten each other’s names — and it’s so overwhelmingly comforting to see how we’ve all grown together.
With each creative writing class I take, my appreciation for writing transforms further into an appreciation for writers themselves. The girl in the corner who never seemed to contribute much wrote her heart-breaking tale of losing a loved one when she was still a kid. It was pure poetry, and the entire class teared up during workshop. The shy girl in another class wrote an enthralling sci-fi piece that seemed like a complete contradiction to her introverted appearance. I reread it three times, wishing she would stretch it into a novel. The quietest guy in another class, who blushed when anyone gave him attention, wrote a story that had the entire room laughing, and we spent the first five minutes of workshop rereading our favorite lines to relive the hilarity.
I’m still the girl behind the desk. I go to some readings, but I never compete in the competitions. I sit in the back of the coffee shops, and I inevitably drag one of my non-English major friends along with me.
I guess I still worry about fitting in. Outside of class, my fellow English majors and I just drift into separate social circles. In the library or at the bar, we offer small waves to each other, and continue functioning with the people who tend to look and act more like us.
But within Robert Bell’s walls, I’ve found a home that I could never recreate elsewhere. I’ve found a community of people who are all willing to give up our differences to celebrate and appreciate our similarities. And while I never thought I’d be relying so heavily on such interesting and diverse characters — people so fantastically different from me — I wouldn’t give that up for anything.