As a second semester freshman now, I am amazed at how quickly time has flown by and how I have changed within the course of only six months. I look back on the previous months in humor, remembering how I frantically tried to pick out my first schedule out of the hundreds of different classes Tufts has to offer without the help of a high school guidance counselor, all of us freshmen akin to fledglings learning to fly without their mothers.
I chose Creative Writing on a whim; I thoroughly enjoyed reading and loved being a part of my high school’s literary magazine. The class was fairly small so I got in despite my late enrolling time. Before classes started, I scrolled through the class’s syllabus on Canvas and began to freak out after seeing the amount of reading and writing exercises we had to complete. I suddenly regretted enrolling in the course.
The first couple weeks of the course were extremely intimidating for me. Being one of only three freshmen in such an intimate class setting, I was scared of participating in fear of judgment from my peers. I was also planning on going on the pre-veterinary track and wanted to turn away from humanities and arts; I really did not need to take the course.
After not being able to find a class to switch, I reluctantly stuck with creative writing for my first semester. The first few assignments included reading Chekhov and Dubus, which rekindled my love of reading after a summer of which consisted of nothing academic. While the writing exercises hurt my brain considering I hadn’t written anything fictional since middle school short stories, it also excited me. I didn’t realize how wired I was to write academically and argumentatively rather than figuratively. For a good part of September, you could’ve spotted me sitting in Tisch intently observing other students to describe their actions as part of a writing exercise.
When it was time to begin our own stories, I immediately hated the workshop-style class--20 to 40 minutes of the class breaking down your story, adding edits and suggestions. As someone who unfortunately takes constructive criticism a bit personally, the initial intimidation of creative writing had resurfaced. I felt young and naive, as if the advice I had wasn’t worth anyone’s time. While writing my first draft, I was filled with doubt with every word I typed on the page. I hated it with every fiber of my being, but I needed to submit it by Sunday at noon. My first workshop class I even ridiculously prefaced it with, “I’m so sorry, I know this is a little rough.”
During the next 20 minutes, I was hit with the blatantly obvious realization: workshops were not bad! Everyone went around with their general comments first, and by the end I’d written so many notes down from their feedback. Not only did I find myself excited to write my second draft, but I’d also gained a newfound appreciation for the seven people surrounding me. Their comments were helpful--they said what they liked and what they didn’t like. After that, I knew which direction I should go towards in terms of the plot, or which descriptions were better than others, and how to show and not tell.
I was also struck by how I initially envisioned the class as if the students were there to judge or personally attack my writing. I once again had to shake myself. This was Tufts and these were their students: passionate and kind, helping and encouraging their peers rather than intensely competing against them.
Despite my initial reaction, I am so glad I kept creative writing in my first semester of Tufts. In many ways, it is representative of the school itself: It challenged me in ways I’d never thought about, shaking up my brain and the ways in which I treated writing by changing my automatic proclivity to simply take another test or write another essay. Regardless of whatever major I will choose, Creative Writing was a core course in first semester that forced me to look introspectively, find a deep truth within myself and creatively manifest it on 13 pages, and for that I am forever grateful.