Here is some writing from previous composition students:
I don't think anyone is born a writer. I think we all are, it's just that some feel compelled. Some people have seen things,
little things like going into labor while watching the same movie as you watched while you were in labor with your first child.
Or it could be big things, like carrying the electrocuted boy into the barn with you. In truth, I believe it's not the extremes
of what happened, it's not the amount of terribleness that counts. What's important is that we write it, we all write it.
There is something psychological about writing, expressing your joy and sharing your pain. There is something comforting
about reading experiences. It's an important process that teaches us not only sympathy and empathy or fellow feeling, but
also how to grieve and let go of hate.
I like to think of myself as a writer, not any better, not any worse than anyone else. A little more practiced than some,
a little less than others. The experiences in my life are no more compelling than anyone else's I believe everyone has a story
that lies beneath their eyes, and that everyone should share it. Writing is not a cold unmoving thing. It's alive with our
voice that we give it.
- Larissa Velez, Composition student, Fall 1996 -
Writing is my mirror. It is the mirror that reflects my inner self. Writing is my companion. It lets me share my soul.
Writing is my vacation away from the world. One word, one comma, one hesitant thought, can create a thousand images. Words
are the color palette of the artist. What dream, what hope, what sorrow, what fear will you paint on your canvas today? And
when I'm finished, I'll show you . . . and for that moment in time, you would have gotten a glimpse of my world. . . .
There are so many more memories I have to collect, there are so many more mistakes yet to be made, and there is so much
more to know. I will continue writing, because I think, one day, I will want to know the yesterdays of me growing up. Writing
is like taking a photograph of the moment . . . a photograph of your emotions, your thoughts, your opinions, and your immaturity.
It's a valuable record . . . because sometimes a person cannot understand the way he or she felt just yesterday. Sometimes
it's important to know . . . because we might forget something important . . . something that growing up can blind us to.
We become insensitive to our past, unknowingly. One day I may not understand why my children are thinking certain things,
or why they are doing certain things . . . but I was probably there before . . . but I would have forgotten exactly how it
felt. When society traps me in a mass of chaos, my secret key that I keep handy is writing. Writing . . . to somehow organize
the chaos. Sound like an oxymoron? Maybe it is. But chaos is okay. Confusion is okay. That's when I know I'm thinking. That's
when I know my brain is on.
- Mayumi Kawashima, Composition student, Spring 1998 -
We are the music makers,
We are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams--
World losers and world forsakers
On whom the pale world gleams:
We are the movers and shakers
Of the world forever it seems.
Arthur William Edgar O'Shaughnessy
It was last school year that I learned to write. I learned to compose images, sketches of skies as blue as indigo, sunsets
scarlet and gold, fields as colorful as a jester's motley, and perhaps more importantly the blood red of suffering, and the
sepulchral black of longing, with the pen as my paintbrush and white paper of my canvas. I learned to have an opinion driven
with such force as to break a wall, using the wheels of eloquence and the iron flanks of roaring language. I wrote for classes
only, writing what was necessary to finish a given assignment. I would form an opinion, write it down, and fabricate whatever
appropriate phrases were needed to breathe into it a false life. Although some of what I wrote came from the inner depths
of my heart, most was not genuine, but perhaps that was the nature of what I was to write in high school.
It was when I was given the opportunity to write without boundaries, without being constricted in the enormous grip of
the MLA Handbook, and without being beset by the barbed-wire and concrete of the five paragraph essay that my rough sketches
started to grow with color and bloom. I began to give my work the intricate harmony of music and the projected reality and
fancy of dreams. Sharing my writing with others and they, sharing theirs with me in a robust feast of ideas and words has
taken my work off of the respirator and endowed it with vitality and vigor. I have molded with my own hands the history of
my life as I see it, the truth from inside of my body meeting with the canvas.
I am now under the indigo skies, I am gazing into the vermilion sunset, and I now pluck a flower from the patchwork field.
The blood red of suffering has been wrung from my heart and the black longing has been collected from the caverns of my mind.
There is still a tank, emblazoned with the wheels of eloquence and the flanks of language, but I am now in the driver's seat,
sitting behind the steering wheel.
Before writing this paper I said to others that this semester I learned to enjoy writing. I learned to craft from my own
experiences and trials and moments of ecstasy beautiful pieces of art. I learned to add dimensions and incorporate other senses
into my work. I learned that writing is what I want to do for the rest of my life, and I want to share my talents with others
and allow others to embark on such a journey through teaching mine.
But I realize now that this semester I have learned nothing. I have painted no art. I have made no music. I have dreamed
I have become.
I am music.
I am dreams.
- Natalie Cyhanenko, Prose Composition I, Fall 1999 -
As I have said before, this writing is not just about writing. It provides a rich source of learning and a courageous
environment for exploring. I can always find an audience for my stories and I can always share my feelings and experiences
with someone else. My knowledge grows from a small and narrow stream to a large and wide river because of this class. Now
I can examine and understand things from more various directions, and I can think about them on a deeper level, which gives
me a much more thorough view on things happening around me. This class helps me to realize that though the world is large
and complicated, there are always some ways to explore it, examine it, and understand it. There isn't a door that would close
upon me to prevent me from proceeding and succeeding further in the journey of my life. It is just that I have to knock on
it sometimes in order to get through.
- Jiwei Yuan, Prose Composition II, Spring 2000 -
I just want to write something that can be read by multitudes of people. After being in the Cloister's and Met, I have
finally seen a glimpse of my future. It isn't a clear vision, but I get the gist.
I just want some kid to hear about me. Maybe it was a poem I wrote, a book I published, or an interview I conducted. And
maybe he heard about me from his hippy teacher, or someone that equally "cool." Or possibly he was on his favorite
band or rap artist's website and saw that one of my works was their favorite piece of reading material. Whatever the scenario,
I want that kid to hear about me, and then call up every bookstore in his area (even out of his area). And I want that kid
to hunt down any piece of my work relentlessly as Gandhi fought for freedom. And after finding it, either at the used bookstore,
or the basement of the library,
I want that kid to read it with attention he should be paying in class. Finally, and hopefully, I want that kid to remember
my writing and me. It could be a one liner for all I care.
I just want some kid to act like I do when I hear about an amazing writer or singer. There's a rapper named Ras Kass.
He's one of the finest lyricists I've ever heard. He's also proudly from southern California. After being out here for a couple
weeks, immersed in this East Coast (New York) lifestyle, I needed a mental break from the subways and brownstones. In essence,
I wanted Ras Kass's first album. The label it was released on is now defunct, so I realized it would be difficult. I've hunted
down albums before so I was definitely up to the task. I went to the Tower Records on Broadway, Coconut Music on 6th avenue,
Sam Goody's on 6th avenue, Virgin Records at Union Square, and little mom and pop shops on west third (and the surrounding
area), and St. Mark's Place. I even went on an expedition for a Sam Goody's on 13th st. and 8th avenue, but there is no Sam
Goody on 13th st. and 8th avenue. I also looked up the white pages and called other stores in Manhattan. I was contemplating
going to Border's Books and Music near Wall Street, but for some reason changed my mind. I even looked for the album online,
and after I couldn't find it online, I asked my roommate to find it online. No luck though. I was upset, sincerely devastated
because my hard work usually pays off. After my frustration I went back to Tower Records, hoping to be consoled by another
album, knowing it would eventually lead to disappointment. I tried anyway because I believe music is always worth a try. Before
I started going through every CD, I stood back and glanced at the wall's selection. After only a couple seconds I spot this
familiar CD. It's a picture of a guy sitting in a jail cell that is frozen in ice. It was Ras Kass posing for his first album,
"Soul on Ice." It was almost divine. I've been to Tower several times, looked with scrutiny each time, and at my
most desperate moment, out of nowhere, there is the album I want staring at me. The shock and amazement was worth recording
in a random journal entry. I looked everywhere for this CD, and it appears when I'm not looking. I simply smiled to myself,
partly because I finally had the CD, and partly because I found it this way.
I just want a kid to smile like that . . . about my work.
-B.J. De Guzman, Prose Composition I, Fall 2000-
My writing desires much. It wants to express the impossible. It wants to share my feelings with others. It wants to make
tangible what is completely beyond my grasp. It wants to be something that means something to me, something meaningful for
others. It wants to solidify what is brittle and insubstantial.
A writer gives unto writing a part of her person; though it may only be a spark from the blaze of her soul, the flame
is true. Sharing this spark through telling a story is what it means to be a writer--to be human--and it reflects all the
ideals of humanity. It is truth. Like so many other ideals from which humanity has sprouted, truth has been lost to our humanity.
And it is the place of writing to resurrect what is truth--what is human--and restore its proper meaning back into society.
Writing is revealing a story that means something, telling a tale in such a fashion that it becomes something to readers,
something that can be meaningful to them. Not merely words on paper, these syllables are sparks from the passion behind writing:
they give form to the intangible. When people read works, readers can hear the words of the writer, the beating of her soul.
Writing is meant to connect person to person and recount to them a truth within the writer's life. Their story becomes ours
-Alexander F. Chu-Fong, Prose Composition II, Spring 2002-
Write. Write so someone else can read, someone else can imagine, someone can dream. Write so that people can feel, experience.
Write because people WILL listen, because they want to. Write about whatever you want, whenever you want it to happen. Write
to remember. Write to forget. Write a textbook. Write on Hitler, Lenin, colonialism, genocide, you decide. Write an essay.
Write on books, people, events, who cares as long as it has one-inch margins on double-spaced white paper? Write a story.
Write a fairy tale, a thriller, or maybe even a romance novel, if you ever get that desperate. Write jingles, but only the
ones I like to hear. Write about me, because maybe you have nothing else to write about. Write for people who can't write;
tell their stories, let them live, it's the best gift that one could ever offer, a BOOK is forever. Write about what goes
on around you, what ignites your hunger for life.
Write about life in New York City, the hustle the bustle. Write about life in Iowa, with lots of corn. Write about life
in Iraq, but make sure the American Media doesn't find it first, or tape you writing it in your home. Write about war; support
our troops. Write about art, or paint about words. Write about the Twenty First Century. Write about the Twenty Second. Write
about the Internet, write about e-mail: Mac or PC. Write about things that can't, the trees, the leaves, the open space. Write
about how you feel alone in bed at night, tell your inner thoughts. Write about "mind-expanding drugs," write about
college: the best years of your life. Write about how much you hate exams, write about how it was worth it to miss class.
Write about choosing a major, write about choosing a career. Write about growing up, because when you're old it's all you're
going to have, sorry. Write about memories, the corners of our lives. Write about Wordsworth, write about Camus. Write about
yourself, write to be creative. Write.
-Brendon "Max" Whalen - Prose Composition II, Spring 2003-
The value of writing can be assigned no definite worth; it can be treasured to one and despised to another.
Writing is a release.
Writing knows no bounds or limits.
Writing lets you pretend and explore worlds that aren't your own.
Writing is like my music, comforting. When needed, it is uplifting, angry, or sensual.
Writing lets me laugh at past challenges and difficulties and whine about present ones.
Writing lets you act crazy without someone wondering if you are mentally disturbed
Writing can adapt to your mood and can fit like those great jeans you're always searching for.
Writing gives me the power to express things that I normally wouldn't feel comfortable talking about.
Writing is an escape. I can forget about everything else that is enclosing me in a small bubble or box and explore.
Writing forces you to try to figure out all that is floating in your mind, fighting in your heart, and beating in your
Writing has a way of making me concentrate on one strain of my many thoughts at any time, pausing on one thought pattern
just long enough to write it down.
Writing gives me the ability to pound on the walls of this container of life, reach for the unknown, and create a clustered
combination of words that have never been read before.
Writing is like the ideal friend, waiting for you day in and day out, at 3am, throughout the perils of life, on your graduation
day, before your wedding, and when you feel there is no one else to turn to.
Writing is a lost art. Love letters, e-mails, and text messages aren't usually viewed as aesthetic, but they are. Thoughts
in your mind drop into your heart when they are drawn by a pen, scribbled by a pencil, or typed on a screen.
Writing is my insulin, reminding me that it is possible to stay true to my heart, and giving me a certain confidence and
energy when I feel drained. It is a new drug that I have recently discovered; I have become hooked and addicted.
Writing allows us to glimpse into a window of the life of another. It is the closest thing we have been given along the
lines of mind reading or telepathy. When we are presented with something to read that has been written by another's heart,
we are given a key to the door of their innermost thoughts; we are shown things that we normally wouldn't come across in regular
At times, writing can make you feel naked.
When I write, I encounter things that I have pushed away and stored in the promising depths of my brain. I write according
to rhythm and sound, not according to words or intellectual content. For me to write, words have to flow and mingle with each
other; they cannot be like the shy boy who stands behind the punch bowl, watching the others dance at the high school formal.
When I truly write, I shut off the power to my rational being and listen only to my passions. When I truly want to write,
I never lack ideas or designs; when I want to
write I do not experience "writer's block."
When we write, we present ourselves as the fragile beings we truly are. We become susceptible to scrutiny and criticism.
We allow ourselves to become open to those we usually slink away from. We emerge from the shadows of insecurities to tackle
the world head on.
Writing empowers. Writing strengthens. Writing perseveres.
-Michelle Welsch - Prose Composition II, Spring 2003-
Writing to me, however, is not only something that will hopefully survive once I am dead but also something that today
tells me that I am alive. Everything I write down is part of me, my life, my mind. When I write something down, I do not only
give something away that has been inside of me, but at the same time I get something back. This "something" is often
much greater than what I give away. It's not material, not something I can explain. I also don't mean the reaction of another
person, although this is very important to me; rather, it's a feeling that makes me happy and satisfied.
-Eva Lang - Prose Composition II, La Pietra - Spring 2004-
Writing is a belief. It can be love. It can be a principle or someone's philosophy. Or it can be someone's religion. Writing
is a way to communicate with those who are dead, those who are alive, and some sacred writings are a way to interact with
the One who lives beyond eternity. But no matter what it's about; writing is certainly a way touch the fingertip of another
person, and it is a way to interact with someone, invisibly within our senses, and imagination.
-Umair Chaudhry - Prose Composition II - Spring 2005- Posted by Carole Deletiner