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Open Mics to Published Book

October 28, 2019

I feel that I have always been a writer. Even in elementary school, when our teacher would assign fictional story assignments and I finished mine, I felt my work deserved recognition beyond the letter grade. The later years of high school is when I began to take my writing more seriously, sharing my poetry privately with a friend here or there. I would always receive praise from them on my pieces, but wouldn’t dare to show my work to the general public.

Things changed though when I arrived at Oberlin College.

As a freshman on campus, I often found myself following the crowds that would lead me to events I had never experienced at my high school. One night I found myself enjoying some hot chocolate at the Cat in the Cream Coffeehouse, where a poetry open mic was occurring. I listened to these talented writers paint their stories using only the microphone as the brush and heard oohs and ahs from the crowd. I was drawn into the atmosphere to the point where I found myself living in the world of the latest poem being spoken, and as the character developed I developed, only to come back to reality at the snap of surrounding fingers. I felt I needed to join in, I needed my work to be a part of this. At the same time, though, I felt unsure if my poetry could stack up against these experienced word connoisseurs. 

Friendship prevailed; after a week of my friends’ constant encouragement, I felt I was ready to take on the bright lights of an open mic. I attended Oberlin’s prestigious Soul Session, which is an open mic event loaded with showstoppers who will leave you asking yourself how one person could produce so much power just using words. When it was my turn to finally paint my words to the crowd gathered at Soul Session, I was extremely nervous, but I couldn’t have asked for a better support system, as all of my friends were gathered in the front row. Once I finished reading my work, I felt a sense of pride building in my chest, and I knew I wanted to further my writing career.

I saw my opportunity to create a book during winter term, a special program offered by Oberlin College that allows students to work on special projects while away from school. I poured my heart out, constantly on my laptop typing out new ideas and new concepts, trying to create the perfect book. At the end of winter term, I turned my book project into my wonderful advisor, and she gave me such great feedback and even suggested that I pursue publishing the books.

So I used my resources at Oberlin College to gather information on publishing and discovered that I could self-publish my book on Amazon. After going to the writing center and having them review the content of the book for grammar mistakes, I opened up my computer and uploaded my book, Parentheses on Amazon. I received nothing but love and support from my fellow Oberlin classmates as well as alumni.

I often found myself receiving encouraging words as I walked the halls, as my friends would tell me how much they loved my poetry and stories in the book. This helped build my confidence as a poet, as many of my pieces were very vulnerable and it took a lot for me to show them to the world. I always felt that I was a writer, but my support system at Oberlin is what pushed me to be an author. 

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