Editor talks what inspires her writing

Category:  The Arts
Thursday, November 1st, 2018 at 8:44 AM

The kaleidoscope of whirling chaos that is life has always been an object of intense interest to me as a writer. Random conversations or observations are enough to send me scrambling for a pen to record some passage of verse, or bit of dialogue. My backpack is overflowing with loose post-its, flashcards and pieces of paper that carry incomplete thoughts, snatches of dialogue and first sentences of short stories. The drive on my computer is home to a folder with short stories, poems and chapters of novels that have been inspired from the most random of observations: the way freshly fallen snow sounds when you walk on it, the fine powdery mist that sprays when you peel an orange, the way that the guy who sits in the fourth row of my psychology class takes notes. 

I’ve always been in awe of the way that life, captured in words, can cause tingles to dance down my skin. A sentence of carefully chosen words can perfectly capture the right tune needed to make me laugh, or cry, or squeal in glee. I can feel deep empathy for a character or person that I’ve never met by reading a few keystrokes written by an author who can put words together. 

As a writer, and lover of words, and appreciator of literature and language, I’ve always looked for inspiration from subjects that are far removed from my personal experience of life. Growing up I drowned in words: I was always the girl peaking over a composition book and vigorously writing down what was going on in front of her. The written word made and continues to make sense to me in ways that no other form of communication does. And my love only grew stronger as I went through elementary, middle school and high school curriculum built around my interests: languages in elementary, world mythology in middle school, and creative writing in high school. The concept of college, with its rigid hierarchy of classes, majors and programs befuddled me: why did I have to take this course rather than another that interested me more? If I was taking the required prerequisite coursework for graduate school admission, why couldn’t I have freedom in everything else? Did I really have to be defined by one major? 

I wanted to use my deep empathy for the human condition to nurse people back to health, and for that I would have to declare myself a health science major. However, I also felt there was so much to be said for writing that captured the pain and plight of people and brought it to a larger audience. 

And so, I declared two majors: one in the pre-health sciences and another in journalism. My science degree allows me to take my inspiration and apply a more empirical lens to it: what systems uphold life as we know it, and how does the way we are built as humans influence the way we interact with life? My journalism degree allows me to become more inquisitive about the things that I observe: why do so many of my professors lack a basic knowledge of how to use the internet? Who are the people that come up with the names on graduation pamphlets? How do teams become a part of the NFL? 

Life lived is joyous, tragic and confusing, often all at the same time, and as a writer, I find the fact that life is so interesting and varied, and never the same for two people at once, the most inspiring muse that I could ever ask for. 

Shayma Musa can be reached at ae.spectator@gmail.com.

Tags: arts, opinions

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