Most teenagers do not spend their time writing novels and poetry. But, by my thirteenth birthday, I had produced my first complete novel as well as dozens of horrific, sad little poems. Life had always been different for me, and the idea of writing a novel before I had even driven a car for the first time was actually not out of the ordinary. Growing up in New England with Italian grandparents gave me a mixed and colorful cultural background. I spent my days playing with my younger sister and brother on a sixty-acre family farm full of horses, peacocks, zebras, and African dogs. Like I said, life was different for me. I never ran out of topics to write about. Then, seeking a more forgiving climate, my family moved south and eventually settled in Greenville, South Carolina. As I worked on surviving high school, I spent more and more time first with a pen and paper and finally with laptops and Word documents. When graduation day came, I was prouder of the fact that I had succeeded in writing eleven novels in five years than I was of the fact that I had completed high school. I then moved on to college, first dipping my toes into the crazy pool of intoxicating excitement and constant stress at Greenville Technical College. My sister, exactly twenty-two months younger than I, came to college with me and together we joined the Greenville Technical College Honors Program. My brother, a full six years my junior, enjoyed watching us leave every morning by 6:00 am. Most nights, we didn’t return until dark. The hectic schedule was worth it. My professors helped me fine-tune my skills in writing and suddenly my poetry was being noticed! Everyone told me I had to write about what I knew… so I did. I focused on what I knew best: my family. I wrote about their lives and personalities. To their chagrin, my siblings became my main subjects. I wrote all the time, no matter what was going on around me. Honestly, my most creative time was sitting through eighty minutes of math class, twice a week. I wrote poetry while the rest of the class learned how to pass midterms and finals. One day, my professor told me I needed to pay attention to the class. So I did. I paid attention long enough to write a poem about the class. Blue Granite Review Magazine published that poem and suddenly, I was hooked on seeing my name in print. I saw a total stranger reading my poem in the magazine. Then I saw two strangers. Then someone recognized me as the author and all at once, those pesky math exams no longer worried me. I threw my entire focus into my English classes. This May, exactly two years later, I will graduate from Greenville Technical College with several published poems and research papers. Now, as I look forward to transferring to Lander University to complete my degree in English, I feel as if I am living in a dream. I think of my thirteen-year-old self, scribbling away in a wide-ruled notebook, feeling so proud of my first novel. Thirteen-year-old me would be floored by the idea that her future self could one day be a published author. Honestly, twenty-year-old me today is floored by this idea! People say growing up is hard and I agree with them. Growing up was hard… right up to the day I was handed a published copy of a magazine with my little poem standing bravely alongside all those massive, intimidating white pages. At least, the pages were intimidating. Now, those pages are mine.
Link’s to Featured Student’s submissions: