Hi! I’m Annie Humphrey and I’m a senior from Boston, MA studying BCN. I feel such mixed emotions about graduating in April—I’m so relieved to take a break from the stress, but I’m also terrified to leave the comfort of the college community and figure out what I’m doing with my life. I participated in two of my favorite writing communities last semester; I took English 325 (Creative Nonfiction) with Nick Harp and I wrote opinion columns on mental health for the Michigan Daily. Both communities required me to write about fairly personal issues, but the style and platform were very different.
I really loved Nick Harp’s class, but for some reason I found the class more challenging as I went along. The format was open ended, meaning we could write about whatever we wanted from our lives using whatever style we felt was appropriate. This worked out well for my first essay; I had recently gone through a messy breakup and was excited to finally have a chance to write down my feelings. I became so invested in the piece that I kept revising and accidentally submitted it several hours after the due date. This was probably my first essay where I cared so much about the story I was telling that I didn’t care about the grade. Luckily, my passion showed through and I wasn’t marked off for lateness.
Unfortunately, this trend did not continue in the class. After the first piece, I felt like I had nothing else left to say. The aftermath of my breakup took up so much energy that I couldn’t seem to access my emotions from any other challenges in my life and write about them. In addition, I had become so used to the writing style I used in my biweekly columns that I couldn’t remember how to show and not tell. For the Daily, I used concise language and always said exactly what I wanted to say without embellishment. While being direct worked will in a newspaper, it frankly sounded boring and preachy when it began spilling over into my English 325 essays.
Writing for the Daily was a great experience for me. I had never written for a newspaper before, and I loved the challenge of figuring out how much to share with the world. At first I was worried that a lot of people would criticize what I had to say, but everyone was really supportive and nothing in my life changed dramatically after broadcasting my voice to the world. However, I realized I still had to be careful with what I said because I lot of people had access to my articles—professors, administrators, residents (I’m an RA), and future employers. There were times when I wanted to be as open about my life as I was in English 325, but I knew that mentioning things like my breakup wouldn’t be appropriate or wise because my ex still went here and a lot of our mutual contacts were reading my articles. At times I grew frustrated with the limits that my lack of anonymity gave me, but in the end I think this was all part of the fun of writing these columns.