About Anne

Dear Readers,

Today, I just want to share something simple with you. Something I stumbled upon recently that has become a source of great inspiration.

As a graduate student, I get very few breaks from academic reading. When I do get time to read whatever I want, I’m often so overwhelmed by my options that I end up binge watching old sitcoms on Netflix instead. This summer, however, I decided early on to make a stack of books to tackle before classes start again. I selected several works of fiction, a few collections of poetry, and this:

Many students read this famous text in the first year or so of high school when the curriculum calls for Holocaust-era literature. However, my English teacher at the time replaced it with Night by Elie Wiesel on our syllabus, and I’ve always felt I missed out. Don’t get me wrong, Night is a beautiful and deeply moving book, but every time I saw the smiling Anne on the cover of the copy of her diary that’s been sitting on my bookshelf for years, I just knew I would enjoy taking a journey into her thoughts.

Once I finally sat down to read The Diary of a Young Girl, I knew within a small handful of sentences why this piece of writing is loved by so many. Anne’s writing, to me, is the definition of a heart on a page.

Beyond being amazed by her writing proficiency (because good writing does translate), I was instantly awed by her approach to writing about her life. She had no way of knowing, when she began the task, what was to come in terms of the atrocities her fellow Jews would undergo or how important her words would become in the world’s historical view of Jewish suffering in WWII; she simply wanted to put her thoughts down on paper. She had no ambitions for the diary itself, no thought in her mind about it ever being published and read by millions, and therefore, no scruples about writing honestly.

In her second diary entry, she explains her intentions in the following way:

“It’s an odd idea for someone like me to keep a diary; not only because I have never done so before, but because it seems to me that neither I – nor for that matter anyone else – will be interested in the unbosomings of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl. Still, what does that matter? I want to write, but more than that, I want to bring out all kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart.”

This quote never fails to give me chills. The young girl who has become a household name, whose work has become a piece of world history, simply wanted to unburden her heart on the page. And what was the result of her intention? A beautifully crafted, deeply insightful, emotionally stirring, and historically meaningful piece of writing.

I’m not saying we can all be Anne Franks. I know and appreciate the context of her writing, and I realize that few, if any, of us will ever endure such trying circumstances. What I am saying is this: we can all learn something about writing from Anne. Great writing can start with humble beginnings, with no desire for fame or recognition, with nothing more than a heart that is willing to be spilled on the page.

Written by Caitlin

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The Little Mermaid Syndrome

Writing can be hard, and I am definitely not the first one to admit this. You have to come up with an idea and then actually write. It’s the latter part that got me for the longest time. I have so many ideas that I could write about (not that I want to share any of them, lest they be stolen by any Idea-Goblins. They’re like the ones that always take the left sock, but instead, they only take the good ideas). The difficulty lies within the actual writing. For some people, it is in the actual writing process; laziness tends to best them in the field of combat and their pen is not quite sharper than the sword. For others, though, it is finding their voice. A lot of writers, especially students, tend to have this fantasy that, in order to write a well-developed paper, one has to sound super scholarly or have the most extraneous utterances known to the writing academia. Some have trouble finding their voice outside of writing academically. Sometimes you look at the blog post you’ve written and think that is sounds nothing like you.

Well, I happen to have the perfect medicine for this problem! Don’t worry; it’s not cherry-flavored. That stuff is nasty.

The medicine is actually prescribed by God himself and works pretty well! It’s in short supply and only you have it. It’s called Being Yourself. Take 550 mg a day and feel free to take as many times a day as needed (Trust me; I want to get a Ph.D. some day. I know what I’m talking about).

You are the special.

You are the special.

A lot of people tend to lose their voice when writing. I call it The Little Mermaid Syndrome (patent pending). Writers tend to sell their voices short, and in most cases, lose them amongst the sea of words that float menacingly on the page. When I first started writing, it took me a while to sound like me. I wanted to sound like some of my favorite writers because obviously it worked for them. However, what works for George Orwell is different than what works for Ernest Cline. Each of their respective voices shines through in some way in their writing. In the same way that every voice sounds different audibly, so to do voices on pages sound different. Don’t try to impersonate someone else. Instead, let you be you.

As I have written previously, I have a problem with letting people read my work. It’s always been a difficult thing to let my work out into the world. But like Noah let the dove out to find land, I must let out my own dove to help you find land (You’re welcome. I work for tips). Writers oftentimes lose their way amongst the crowd. They want to stand out and impress people, so they try to be someone that they are not. They try to create this alternate person that they think everyone will like to read. However, people have this sixth sense about them.

They can sense when someone is being false.

I see fake people.

I see fake people.

So in all of this mess, Ariel (you) ends up losing her voice because she traded it to an evil sea witch (tried to be someone you’re not). She calls out to Prince Eric (the audience), but he does not hear her because she has no voice. Yeah, you’re The Little Mermaid. Feet aren’t all that great when the person you’re chasing can’t hear you. We flounder in our writing because we gave our voice away in exchange for something we thought was better. In reality, no one wants to listen to the same copy-and-pasted voice over and over again (unless that voice is Morgan Freeman. Then this entire blog is void). Instead, they want to hear something unique. They want to hear something special. Don’t get so caught up in refining your writing that you forget that you are the person writing it.

It’s Time to Write

When you’re in grade school, you dream about the last day of school. The countdown to freedom begins about a month in advance, and you are sure to remind everyone in your wake. When the day finally arrives, visions of festivities dance through your head as you sit in your last period class, watching the hands of the clock turn ever so slowly. The final bell rings, provoking you and your peers to burst through the doors of English class. Roars of “No more papers!” fill the halls of the school while teachers sigh in relief at the departure of their students. The celebration is nothing short of your favorite High School Musical number.

Now thacovert you’re in college, you have aged and matured into a nice and refined adult, which caused you to tackle the end of the spring semester with grace and poise. You waited until the very last moment to submit your final writing assignment, not because you procrastinated or watched an entire season of The Office the week before it was due, but because you were truly saddened by the idea of having an assignment-free summer, right?

Yeah. I didn’t think so.

I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t excited for summer. In fact, I’d be lying if I told you that my inner 7th grader didn’t come out after I submitted that last essay. That’s right. I sang that High School Musical number; I sang it real loud.

If you’re like me, you enjoy writing on your own terms and on your own time. It took years for me to become comfortable with writing specific papers. I never liked being told what or when to write, which didn’t work out so well for me in high school. After spending so much time dreading writing specific assignments, I quickly lost the desire to write at all, which meant that I rarely picked up a pen during the summer. This is one of my deepest regrets.

Although I’m still daydreaming about Troy Bolton and random musical outbreaks taking place in the lobby of the Learning Center, my views and perspectives on writing have completely changed since being in colledownloadge and working in the UWC. Obviously, there is great importance in writing specific assignments for classes, no matter how tedious or ridiculous it may seem at the time. That being said, I believe that it is absolutely essential for us to write for self pleasure as well. I am continually astonished by the things that I find out about myself while writing as a pastime, rather than writing as an obligation. The simple act of putting pen to paper has gotten me through the best and worst times of my life.

So, today, I’m writing this blog for one sole purpose. It’s not to remind you of the good ‘ole days of grade school or to reminisce about one of my favorite Disney classics, but it’s to encourage you to write. Write a poem or a song. Write something non-fictional or down right imaginative. Write in a journal or on a wadded up napkin that you found in the floorboard of your car. Write whatever you want, whenever you want.

Summer is an amazing opportunity to express yourself through writing. There are no specific topics, time limits, or grades. It’s just you, a pen, and a world of possibilities. Don’t take it for granted.

Written by Haley