Falling Back in Love

We’ve recently welcomed Emma Eatman as a spring intern for The Cooler Minds. A fellow Texan, Emma is now studying communications and political science at Howard University. Here, she describes her relationship to writing as she was growing up—and how college has reawakened her passion for written expression. ~Lisa

My love for reading most likely began when Santa gifted me the first ten books of Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew series—which, now that I remember, I finished in about three days. I refused to read anything that wasn’t fiction and fantastical—witches, hidden forests, and magic powers. As for my writing? I’m not entirely sure, but my adoration must have begun once I developed an eye that noticed every detail around me. I wrote short stories brimming with colorful imagery that I would slip under my mother’s door late at night when she was asleep. It never failed to boost my ego and paint a smile on my face when I saw my short stories taped to her vanity mirror.

I wrote short stories brimming with colorful imagery that I would slip under my mother’s door late at night when she was asleep.

I soon became all too familiar with the faded walls of my high school—walls that housed an abundance of knowledge but often restricted the beauty of creative expression. This is not to say that I wasn’t writing—I was, and often. But my creations simply became hollow, routine and structured. I was writing to appeal to my teachers and the way I knew they preferred me to write. I became a robot—a writing robot who was taught to keep my sentences short and sweet and to never write more than three pages because no teacher wants to stay up into the wee hours of the night reading papers that long. A stack of books that I had yet to read would sit in a clustered corner of my room, collecting dust as I ran from one activity to another, forgetting the beauty and wonder and enchantment of cozying up with a book for the first time. I became jaded. I longed for the feeling I once had as I stayed up late on school nights to read just one more chapter or write just one more story.

Luckily, when I entered my first year of college a few short months ago, I found that feeling once again. I was reintroduced to the power my voice holds in my writing and the importance of reading “for fun.” My writing improved tremendously when I had little structure in how I was to write, and my reading choices began to be comprised of nonfiction works that taught me about the world I live in—why things are the way they are, why so many people live in poverty, more reasons why we need feminism in a world that oppresses women for simply being… women.

…my reading choices began to be comprised of nonfiction works that taught me about the world I live in—why things are the way they are…

I found myself slowly but surely beginning to fall back in love with how writing makes me feel, how reading makes me think and how the two intertwine to color my world with enough creativity and room for growth to last a lifetime.

 

 

The Whole Thing

Once upon a time, there was a mighty word from Old Norse that meant a decision-making assembly, charged with important business–you know, futhark-laden, land-holding, axe-wielding, men-only stuff.

Over the centuries, this ancient and esteemed word became care-worn and lowly, a word to toss in the mix  when the other words in our heads block all the light and leave us grasping.

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On its journey from mighty þing and mightier Alþing to simple thing, it even lost a letter. The gracefully curved thorn, along with 11 other siblings, didn’t make the cut into the modern 26-letter alphabet.

Yet, through thing‘s very ubiquitousness and utility, its insistence on cropping up again and again when a better word would surely suffice, it stands as a miracle of survival and resilience. Its distinctive starting sound, made by thrusting the tip of the tongue between the teeth and aspirating silently (‘th’) has become a hallmark of spoken English, a frustrating exercise for some non-native English speakers–and has defied the attempts of a few born speakers, too.

We suspect even Julie Andrews required elocution lessons to enunciate things with aplomb.

Favorite Things
..and then I don’t feel so bad.

Thing is, I grew up being shooed off from delicious, old words like thing. The vagueness it supposedly lends to a sentence is bad news to English teachers and buttoned-down employers who think they know what’s what. Yet try getting through just one day without it. You’ll learn a thing or two about its value.

Robby gets this.

Thing is the comfortable old blanket in many sentences, a humanizing sign that we’re actively thinking, that our minds are not perfect, our logic not impeccable, our things all in a muddle. Many things defy our understanding, and many more defy description.

The old words are the best words. That’s the thing I’m trying to say.

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