The Power of the Pen
It’s yet another sunny Saturday morning in the kitchen. A soggy old shoebox rests upon the table top with a plethora of loose leaf paper, a stapler, Scotch tape, magic markers and of course stickers bursting out of it. I will never forget those mornings, awakening with a fresh imagination from avid dreaming, and grabbing the shoe box. It was time to create, to write.
This is most likely my earliest memory of writing. I can’t recall a specific event or moment in my life that caused me to begin reading and writing, but I’ve always grown up with a regular enchanted bed time story, trips to the bookstore, and of course my little “writing tool box.” I suppose that many children have had a love for literature like I did early on, as storytelling serves as the portal into the land of fantasy, but it is so easy for that interest to be demolished. Once those bedtime stories have reached their end and the imagination comes closer to reality as the child grows older, a passion for literature can evolve into a mere memory of the past for many. But not for me; writing has been a way in which my early love for literature has blossomed throughout the years. As a result, my writing has grown with me ever since those Saturday mornings and it has even has been able to dictate who I’ve become.
Over the years, my writing has taken on a lot of identities. It has been a storyteller, of course, but it has also been a late-night procrastinating essay writer, an emotional mess on paper in quite a few diaries, and even a short-term blog enthusiast at one point. I seemed to be as dynamic in my writing preferences as New York weather, but I eventually came to find out by my sophomore year in high school that journalism was really the one area in which I was able to uncover my true potential. This came as a surprise to me, due to the fact that I always looked upon the work of a journalist as “boring” and “tedious,” but once I was placed in that position, my beliefs definitely changed. My past fantasy-adoring self was now replaced by a journalist, always hungry for something more to write about in the world.
Despite how journalism has vastly influenced me, it took three newspaper jobs in order to uncover my underlying passion for it. Surprisingly, my very first experience writing for a newspaper back in middle school left me no more excited about it then when I joined as a curious and bored tween who needed something to do. This newspaper, The Mirror, was run by one bound-to-retire English teacher who oversaw a handful of writers, so much of the attention that the newspaper required wasn’t being put into it. Actually, when published, it was just a few sheets of regular printer paper stapled together. Because of this, barely anyone gave any of the articles, including mine, the attention that I so desired for my work. Upon graduating eighth grade, I felt as if I wasted my time writing articles that went unnoticed, and I was discouraged from joining another newspaper.
However, my feelings began to change once I entered high school. Once I saw how official the high school newspaper, The Maroon, looked and the student body’s flurry of excitement when it was distributed in the hallways, I was tempted to give journalism another go. Its pages were filled with articles, illustrations, photographs, and an appealing layout; it was even printed on state-of-the-art newspaper paper. I knew that if I wanted the chance to let my writing shine, this was going to be my best opportunity. Furthermore, my ninth grade English teacher, Mr. Neden, who was the advisor of The Maroon, pushed me to write for the paper because he saw my potential in my essays. “C’mon, Jobson, I know that you’ll really like it and you’ll be thanking me later!” he said to me after I told him my doubts leftover from The Mirror. With a hint of optimism as well as hesitation, I agreed to join The Maroon that following year as a sophomore.
It was on The Maroon when I realized the freedom and opportunity journalism was able to provide to me. In this new world of mine, I felt like there was an abundance of story ideas just waiting to be written about; when it comes to writing stories and other literature, sometimes it takes a long time trying to plan out the perfect idea for a good read. Additionally, meeting new people all of the time is just one of the many perks of journalism. From holding interviews to working on editorial boards, I came to see, I was always learning more about other people as well as the world in general. The middle school newspaper didn’t go into nearly as much depth as The Maroon, which was the aspect that I missed out on and therefore didn’t get to enjoy before coming into high school. But once I started writing for The Maroon and I came to love the feeling of “seeing my name in print,” as my English teacher always said, I never quit writing for it. By my senior year, I was promoted to the rank of editor-in-chief, were I was in my glory.
By this point in my life as a writer, I felt unstoppable. In addition to my leadership position on the newspaper, I also acquired a job on my town’s newspaper, The New Paltz Times, writing weekly profiles on some of my graduating classmates. This job alone provided the incredible exposure that I had always yearned to have as an aspiring author back when I was younger. But, of course, between the two newspapers as well as juggling all of my other commitments as a high school student, stress got the best of me most days. There were many nights when I was forced to stay up late, just wanting to call it quits and go to bed, but couldn’t because of numerous deadlines that always seemed to creep on me a little too quickly. Sometimes I was even tempted to quit. However, my newfound love for journalism kept my writing going strong, and now I feel very accomplished to have had such an outstanding senior year. Now I can definitely say that my writing has made my life that much more enjoyable for me as both my skills and myself have grown substantially. Writing on a newspaper definitely molded my writing abilities, but AP classes did as well. I remember clearly stepping into my very first AP class, AP Literature, and being overconfident as I believed that my strong writing foundation would allow me to soar through the course; but of course I was proved wrong on that first brutal essay. My writing has been torn to shreds and there have been many times in which I believed it were never good enough, but persistence and determination allowed my writing to become even stronger through those difficult classes. Considering both my rigorous schoolwork, the newspapers and their substantial impact, I left high school with a much more mature, impactful and impressive style of rhetoric.
Today, with both of those newspapers behind me as well as all of the chaos and stress that came with those responsibilities, I have realized that writing in general has greatly impacted me as a person. At the beginning of my high school career, I was a very shy and reserved person who tended to slack off in school, but journalism and taking rigorous AP classes transformed both my confidence and my determination. The increased effort was difficult to put in at first into my work, but once I saw the positive impact that it had, I continued to put my all into everything. There’s nothing quite like watching people’s reactions after reading an article that you worked so hard on, knowing that without the amount of effort that you put in, your work wouldn’t be nearly as good as it came out to be. Additionally, my charismatic skills increased ten-fold due to being editor-in-chief, as leading an army of newspaper staff requires boldness and much determination in order to get done what needs to be completed in the most efficient time possible. When I compare who I am now to who I was in the past, the difference is incredible, and I know that without stepping out of my comfort zone to join The Maroon or to take challenging writing courses, I wouldn’t be nearly as invigorated to succeed as I am today in nearly everything that I do.
I believe entirely that my writing in itself has been the one thing that has caused me to change, to become a much stronger and determined individual overall. Instead of hiding my writing away in my room, I now utilize it in order to show the world what great things I’m really capable of producing. My writing skills have transformed into a great tool of impact that I can now use to my best advantage wherever the future may take me. Ever since having my experiences on the newspapers, I now strive to someday write for a newspaper or magazine in addition to my ultimate dream job of becoming a doctor. Now, my picture books rest in the attic alongside my bundles of past newspaper articles; two vastly different things, yes, but they portray exactly who I was and who I have become as both a person and as an aspiring writer.