If there is one thing I’ve learned from pursuing a career in writing, it is the fact that words can come from all over. Everyone has the ability to create something meaningful via his or her own language, background, culture and experience. I like being surrounded by writers because we each bring something unique to the “universe” that is the written word. Writing is a method of communication, used formally in medical journals, newspapers, magazines, and of course, literature.
It can be overlooked at times, but reading other people’s writing is the best way to expand your own horizon of knowledge. If you think about it, nothing is completely objective. There is always a tone present, lightly detected or not, that can reveal an author’s true feelings about his or her subject.
I never considered how many sources and types of people that various writings could come from—until I was surrounded by writers on a regular basis. It started when I took my first creative writing workshops away at school, attended a summer writer’s institute, and began interning at a literary magazine in my hometown. I didn’t understand how much variety there was in literary works because I had been constricted to what I read as a child and what I was assigned later in high school.
Working at the literary magazine has solidified this realization. As an intern I am partly responsible for reading and voting on submissions from various writers all over the country and abroad. I have read pieces written by college students, published authors, MFAs, and professionals who never studied writing but love it all the same. Then I have read work from people who are a mixture of these categories. It’s amazing to see how one method of communication, widespread as it is, takes its own form within just one person’s imagination.
Then there’s the other side: us, the receivers—the interns, the editors, the outside readers who volunteer their input, and everyone else who helps out. There is a variety even within our small group. We have different educations, have attended different schools, are from towns from all over, and have experienced vastly different lives. Yet we all get along, and I feel that a large part of this is due to our passion for words. (Of course, we’re all a fun-loving group anyway, but the writing aspect is still quite important!)
I think the most valuable thing I can take away from what I have experienced, being surrounded by writers and readers, is that variety is a very good thing. Without it you can miss out on so many perspectives that have the ability to alter your own lifestyle and values. Without it would be like living in a secluded society of your own, where you can only learn from people just like you. I value the new people I have been exposed to since I started college because it has helped me grow as a person, a student, and a writer. Working at the magazine just marks the beginning of that growth—seeing as I have quite a few more years ahead of me.
The same goes for being away at school. Dip your toes into the water that keeps changing temperature; don’t stick to what you’re comfortable with. Take it from me, it’s worth it.