Why Writers Are My New Rock Stars

Last week, I had the honor of meeting Judith Ortiz Cofer, whose work I have been reading in my Women in Literature class. (Some of you may recall my recent post about her poem To A Daughter I Cannot Console.) I swear, it felt like I was meeting a celebrity. Never before have I gotten to listen to an author whose work I’ve read and then meet him or her in person, so the whole experience was really exciting for the girl who has been striving to be a writer since she was born.

That reading took place on Thursday, April 14 and was one of the coolest things I’d done all week (which is saying something, since I also went to Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s in-house ad agency). Both Judith and my professor, Cecilia Rodriguez Milanes, performed their work. I had never attended a reading before, but I know I will be doing that in the future… it was, for lack of a better word, awesome.

But the adventure wasn’t over. That following Saturday, my school held its annual book festival, pulling in authors from all over the country to talk to us about the themes of their work. Half of the panels I attended featured authors I’d never even heard of before, but it was an amazing experience and I learned a lot about the publishing world and writing in general from the talks they gave. Judith was there once again (I lent her my copy of her book during the panel! eeeee) and so was Vicki Forman, the author of This Lovely Life, which we also read in class recently. Having my books signed and getting to speak one-on-one with the writers was exciting, and it shed some light on the topics they write about as well as the processes they went through. My class also video-chatted with Vicki yesterday, which gave us the chance to ask her some of the tough questions.

To me, writers are like rock stars. I have been reading, more or less, since I was three or four years old, and so books have been more prevalent in my life than almost anything else. I love what I’m studying in school, but ultimately I want to just write books full time. Therefore, attending readings and author panels has been one of the most interesting things I have ever gotten the chance to do. In the past, authors were seen much more as celebrities — Arthur Miller was well-known for his marriage to Marilyn, for example, and Truman Capote traveled within Hollywood’s social circles — whereas now, the only writers we ever really hear about are J.K. Rowling, James Patterson and the not-so-beloved Stephanie Meyer.

Still, I am proud to have met some truly inspirational writers in the last week! One parting piece of advice to readers: college presents some wonderful opportunities, so take advantage of the ones that sound remotely interesting to you. I promise you will learn something from them!

Heartbreak and The Latin Deli

“And the heart, like a well-constructed little boat, will resume its course toward hope.” – Judith Ortiz Cofer, “To a Daughter I Cannot Console,” The Latin Deli

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Today in my Women in Literature class, as we broke into groups to discuss our latest anthology The Latin Deli, I couldn’t help but become drawn to its poem called “To a Daughter I Cannot Console.” Although I’m not by any means a fan of poetry, the works of Judith Ortiz Cofer really caught my attention, especially because of the real life situations and relationships that her book brings to light. In this particular poem, a woman (the speaker of the poem) tries to take care of her heartbroken teenage daughter. The speaker tries to explain to her daughter that things will be all right in the end, but naturally, the daughter does not believe this because of the pain she is currently going through.

Of course, when the speaker tries to remember the boy who broke her own heart at sixteen, she can barely even recall his face. Ultimately, she realizes that while “the storm surging within will abate – like all acts of God,” her daughter is still too young to realize this, and will have to undergo those hard feelings herself. As difficult as it is to watch her daughter endure such a disappointment, the speaker recognizes that her daughter will have to learn from life experience rather than merely a mother’s calming words.

The significant things in our lives are always changing. (Tweet this!) The things that are important to us on one day aren’t always the same things that are important to us a year later. When I look back at my high school experience, for example, I realize that the boy who broke my heart in a Spiderman costume right before Homecoming has become just a memory, a random story I’ve told a few friends in college (you can’t make these things up).

In other words, all of us have — at one point or another — been that sixteen-year-old girl, inconsolable over someone or something that has hurt us. But after the wounds have healed, we begin to forget that they were ever really there in the first place. We take on the role of the mother in the poem, optimistic that the passage of time will make everything better.

Therefore, when things haven’t gone our way, we have to keep on moving like that “well-constructed little boat,” and remind ourselves that soon enough, many of our disappointments will disintegrate into the stories we rarely think to tell.