It is time to join the creative writing club!
“Storytelling is embedded in our species down to the very core of the neurons in our brains. . .Writing and storytelling, in my opinion, are what make us human,” stated Jennifer Stephenson, English teacher and sponsor of the creative writing club at TJ. Since September of 2020, the creative writing club has been offered at TJ. Students meet with Mrs. Stephenson every Wednesday after school; the club offers a safe place where all forms of writing (fiction, poetry, songwriting, and others) are cherished, worked on, and discussed. In this community, the catharsis of expressing oneself through words is the protagonist.
Then again, in order to understand creative writing, it is important to understand the power of writing outside the bounds of normal professional, journalistic, academic, or technical forms of literature. First, creative writing has to be recognized as the greatest expression of “self.” In creative writing, the purpose of the piece is entirely up to the individual. It is a place where someone faces their ideas, perspectives, memories, feelings, principles, fears, insecurities, dreams, and identity.
Creative writing is about nakedness. It is about vulnerability.“I learned just how important writing is after I lost one of my brothers two years ago,” Stephenson stated, “I couldn’t handle all of the horrendous emotions without some kind of outlet. I wrote his eulogy and some other things for his funeral, and as difficult as it was, the act of writing helped me sort through my emotions and get a handle on things. After that, I started writing again consistently, and I’ve noticed a tremendous shift in my mental health and happiness overall.”
In a world where suicide and depression rates increase constantly and many people feel as if what they feel cannot be heard or understood, writing might be a good outlet for the expression of those emotions and could help the individual work towards a better and healthier mind and life. Allowing people to see the darkest parts of themselves or their raw emotional state is terrifying in the best of situations, but maybe that is the miracle of creative writing. Vulnerability does not have to come in a piece written in first person. It might be a short story about dragons and heroes, it might be a tale of angels and fairies, it might be a satire about society, it might be a song about a loved one, or it might be a rap about one’s childhood or a poem about the rain. There are no boundaries because its sole purpose is to help the author understand themselves.
TJ’s students find themselves discussing a wide variety of topics such as identity, culture, memories, fears, and doubts. In high school, people are still figuring themselves out, and through different writing exercises such as creating a haiku (a Japanese poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five) students might explore their experiences with grief, anxiety, joy, satisfaction, and the uncertainty of the future.
“Every time I’m in [the] club, I’m swept away by unique and wonderful experiences each time. It’s almost impossible to single them out; do I talk about recognition or do I mention the beautiful minds in the club itself?” Caprice Agassounon, a member of the creative writing club and a junior at TJ, declared. “I believe my most meaningful time was when I was writing my nature concept. I called it “The Creek,” a short recollection of time and growth. This was the first time I ever felt that my writing was worth something, that it held true meaning. I was the most vulnerable I’ve ever been, recollecting times on “The Creek” of hardship, of triumph, and of the passing of time. Probably one of my most valued experiences.”
Then again, the author is not the only beneficiary. Many readers can relate to the words written in a piece. They can feel as if a stranger actually understands what they have not been able to say. Maybe, they can even change the mistakes of the ideas portrayed in the narrative, one by one, until this one piece becomes a world heritage. An allegory about everyone; an allegory about humankind. “This past week, our freshmen wrote ’deleted scenes’ for the play Fences, and then some even performed dramatic readings of their scripts. The quality of work was exceptional; the students were engaged and asking questions,” Stephenson revealed.
Besides being essential for a complete understanding of academic and professional knowledge, creative writing can also be exciting. Even in its smallest dose, it offers one of those rare occasions when an individual can feel as if they have the control to shape the world however they like because, for a moment, they do. They entertain their wildest thoughts and present thousands of possibilities to human action. Through a simple story, the reader and author may have to face the dangerous consequences of ocean pollution and the apocalypse or the beautiful chain of good deeds sparked by a single act of kindness.
“We are the myth makers. It is through our words and our stories, especially fictional ones, that we can change hearts and minds, and ultimately, the world,” Stephenson proclaimed. Creative writing is about the most beautiful and powerful kind of magic: hope and freedom. Every day, there are thousands of stories developing themselves—pieces of narrative that communicate the story of humanity and are edited once, twice, and thrice in order to give shape to a better world. Each comma, period, and word is a new path that can be chosen and the birth of a new idea that will last for generations.
The creative writing club has been an incredible addition to the TJ community, allowing students to experiment with each one of these sensations while also improving their communication or writing skills and offering a safe place to show vulnerability. “It’s important to highlight the creativity in the English language and how to utilize it. There are so many words with so many meanings that don’t get used and, because of that, our imagery and our creativity have been muddled. Creative Writing lets us be free and fluid with our emotions and words, to think outside of the guidelines traditional English classes give us… [It] enriches.” Caprice remarked.
TJ used to have a creative writing class, so maybe one day it’ll be taught again, presenting an opportunity for the students’ narratives to be the tales of humanity in a pandemic or the memories of high school that cannot get lost in the tricks of time.
After all, writing is also immortality.
If you want to join the club, email Mrs. Stephenson: firstname.lastname@example.org