I entered Northeastern as a biochemistry major. Within the first few days of classes, I overheard a friend agonizing about writing an essay. I realized that I had no reason to stress about word count, no need for a thesaurus, no essay to complain about myself. I got jealous. Unsettled by a schedule that lacked any English courses, I dropped the College of Science and joined the Explore Program (The Department Formerly Known as the Undeclared Program).
The Explore Program emphasizes working toward a sort of self-awareness that has evaded me throughout my life. The importance of writing glared at me as I grew up. From being read Frederick the Field Mouse to revisiting the Harry Potter series over and over, I’ve always prioritized stories. In addition to the friendships, heroism, and different worlds found on the page, I developed a love for words themselves. At one point, I even tried to memorize the dictionary, giving up some time around “abate.” The definition still haunts me with my defeat. My ego rebounded enough to allow me to begin my writing career. Sometime in elementary school I plopped myself down at my family’s desktop computer and worked on my first novel, in which a girl named Kiera is visited by a talking wolf and travels through time and space. It was intense. As the dual author and illustrator, I even mapped out the land of “Rosen Golia,” a name I conjured after combining some terms on a poster of the state plants hanging in our laundry room. The story regrettably remains unfinished.
In school, however, I never considered writing my priority. I took it for granted. As it came naturally to me, I somewhat crossed it off on my mental checklist of academic challenges. Reading and writing were ubiquitous, elephants in the room as I focused on a crack in the wall next to them. That crack would take the form of biology, bench-warming soccer games, student council, and so on. Science, math, and extracurriculars demanded most of my time. In order to recognize my identity as a writer, I had to miss it.
I needed to assert myself as shamelessly undeclared before I could realize that my love of writing could hint at a sense of direction. For my FSEM1000 ME Plan, my instructor Jason pointed not to the content of the paper, but to my writing itself. He called me out for a style fraught with “healthy cynicism.” I felt a sense of acknowledgement, and I allowed myself to admit that writing was a skill I wanted to actively pursue.
I forced myself to think about writing itself. Writing is vulnerable. Writing is cathartic. Writing is a way to remember, a way to find meaning, and a way to connect to people. My personal ambitions have jumped from medicine, to television production, to politics, to law, but my desire to help make sense of the world always returns to the act of writing. Words reflect how we think and what our values are. It’s terrifying and I love it.
I now actively embrace how I want to become a writer. My time with the writers on the Games Team at Hasbro Inc. especially reinforced the importance of storytelling for me — Our manager deemed us “Architects of Information.” I’m currently taking on the role as a tutor for the Writing Center at Northeastern. My evolving concept of writing seeps into the details of my daily life as well. I keep returning to the wisdom in books like Tina Fey’s Bossypants and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, and on my bed right now is a bookmarked copy of one of Gloria Steinem’s memoirs. Every time I re-watch Scrubs, Arrested Development, or even late-night shows, my longing to be a part of the writers’ room takes over. Whatever I do, I plan to be a writer as I do it.
By: Meredith Dietz