When quarantine started, I didn’t expect everything to go away so quickly. Of course, I knew my love of going to the movies every week would have to be put on hold. But then, all the studios pulled or pushed back my most anticipated blockbusters’ release dates. No more Marvel. No more Wonder Woman. If I’m lucky, I may get to see Wonder Woman on the big screen before my eighteenth birthday, but I’m not holding out much hope.
Then even more bad news hit: my upcoming creative writing camp, a two-week splendor of passion, art, and new friends in the great city of Memphis, TN, was cancelled and changed into some online Zoom classes, which I am already sick of.
I realized that I had nothing much to look forward to. Aside from the occasional online Prep News article and the typical binge watch of the newest Netflix series, I didn’t have anything on my agenda to motivate me or to set my sights on. Just finish these last few weeks of classes and … then what?
That was my attitude until I was cleaning out my vinyl collection, and I realized there were many records that I would never spin again. Whether they were scratched up and unusable or simply just bad music, they were just gonna collect dust until the next rummage sale took them away from me.
Along with some old magazines and comic books that were taking up space in my bookshelf, there were so many pieces of my past that I needed to get rid of, but still had some value.
Then, the idea hit me: there’s not much in my immediate future, and very little from my past is making me all that excited, so why not take the old, and make it into something new?
Over the course of a long weekend, and with the help of some old newspapers, durable scissors, and a fresh tub of modge podge, I got to work. I printed collages of my favorite superheros and space battles from pop culture onto cracked and scratched up vinyls. The project wasn’t simply entertaining and time consuming; it was inspiring.
In times of uncertainty and when most everything has been cancelled, with not much hope to hold onto or future endeavors to look forward to, it's important to create some hope of our own. If taking the past and making a future hobby for myself is what I need to look forward to, then that's not too bad, even if it’s not as exciting as the next big superhero movie.
I went to the local nursery on the first day of shutdown to buy some succulents for my room, and I thought, “when will I ever have the time to grow a garden again?” I have always wanted to garden, but I never had the time in the early spring to plant vegetables.
With college around the corner, I find myself in the final months of true locational permanence. So, with hours of free time on my hands and a mandate to spend them at home, I bought myself some little heads of butter lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, and a load of herbs. I also have harvested seeds from the vegetables that I eat like lemons and cucumbers. I planted them in some raised garden planters. I tend to the crop everyday with water; I cut them back and harvest the leaves of the lettuce almost daily. When I cook dinner I always make a salad with my lettuce and dress it up with olive oil and herbs that I grew.
Gardening reminds me of the beauty of the world around me; nature has always amazed me. I love the way that a seemingly lifeless seed can, in a weeks time, sprout from the ground into the beginning of a cucumber plant, or how a head of lettuce can multiply in size seemingly overnight. I am reminded of the power of nature to bring life when I see a plant sprout—a reassuring thought in these troubling times.
Writing for the Prep News is like operating a machine. It isn’t easy, but the more you do it, the more effortless it becomes. Each story you write is already there; all you have to do is tell it, and the way you tell it is determined by the 83 editions that have come before you. Creative writing isn’t as stringent. In addition to telling the story, you also have to make the story. You must decide the medium. Poetry? Short story? It's up to you.
However, what makes creative writing so difficult is what also makes it so beautiful. I didn’t fully understand this lesson until quarantine. With COVID-19 stealing my spring break, I needed to find a way to occupy my time. I found that outlet in writing.
No matter how incredible a teacher Mrs. Carroll is, it takes yourself to find your true voice. As a way to find my voice, I read pieces by various authors from various different forms of literature. I read the novel The Chamber by John Grisham, and poems like “God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manly Hopkins (an author introduced to me by Mr. Hussung) to be inspired to write literature of my own.
Once I felt ready, I began to write. First it was “True Self,” a short story about a ruthless general repenting from his bloody ways. Then I tried writing a poem to reimagine the story of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse with a piece called “Unsung Heroes.” With the guidance of fellow junior and founder of Creative Writing Club Philip Hiblovic, it slowly grew from 20 lines to 40 to 80 to 130 lines exactly. The more I wrote and revised, the more I saw my voice come to life on the page over the course of three weeks.
While COVID-19 brings much misery, I hope that good things can come from bad situations. I believe finding my love for creative writing was a light amidst the darkness brought by this terrible pandemic. When I return back to school, I hope my efforts not only prove fruitful for my English grade but also my writing for Prep News, Sisyphus,and the Creative Writing club, which is set to launch for the 2020-21 school year.