- Elijah Cardenas
The Writing Journey of a Writing Center Tutor
Hello again! Thank you for joining me (Annie) as we return to our feature on Writing Center tutors. A few weeks ago, I published a blog post on the writing process of one of our tutors. To continue this focus, I want to discuss the writing journey of one of our senior tutors. Elijah Cardenas, a senior majoring in English Writing and minoring in Business Administration, began his writing journey as a child inventing bedtime stories. As he grew older, his passion for writing continued to flourish and he has now produced multiple texts. Elijah will tell us more about his story below. I hope that reading about Elijah’s writing journey will inspire you in your own writing journey!
Elijah Cardenas, Writing Center Tutor
As a writer, one of the biggest challenges to overcome in the writing process can often be simply working up the motivation to sit down and make the writing happen. This is true for even the most avid writers and is definitely true for me. I’ve always been passionate about stories and from a young age, I experimented with creating stories of my own. Whether it was backyard battlegrounds, LEGO landscapes stretched across the floor of my room, or bedtime stories to lull my night-owl younger brother to sleep, my childhood was filled with visions of narratives. In hindsight, those stories were probably part of what got me so interested in reading and later on, in writing.
I began experimenting with writing poetry when I was in middle school. It was nothing special, in fact much of it was fairly basic rhymes – about what you would expect of a middle schooler. The course of my storytelling career wouldn’t evolve much past that until I reached high school, where I began what remains the most ambitious writing project of my life (so far).
When I transferred schools at the tail end of eighth grade, it was a season of a lot of changes. Moving to a new school across town, not to mention the move from middle to high school, left me with a lot of uncertainty and lots of strong emotions. I remember I used to listen to a lot of music to decompress after school. I would blast whatever old CDs of my dad’s collection I had downloaded onto my second-hand ipod with the blue case and the sticky buttons and with the music bumping, I would let my imagination run wild. Little did I know then that listening to music would eventually become a staple of my writing process.
I remember in the midst of one of those imagination sessions, with the Eagles Greatest Hits blaring in my ears, I had what I can only describe as something akin to a deja vu where I realized that, for the last few months, my imagination had been crafting a continuous narrative with common characters. It’s a marvel the realization didn’t come to me sooner, to be honest, but when it finally occurred to me that I was writing a story in my head, I began to toy around with the idea of writing it down.
Since my budding skill as a poet had emerged a few years prior, my parents had always encouraged me to continue to practice and hone my skills as a writer. So naturally, when their young son came to them asking for a spare journal to write a book in, they were supportive and enthusiastic. I had never written anything longer than a two-page poem at that point, at least of my own volition, so I’m not certain how much they expected of my attempted venture or how long they expected me to last before I tired of the project and moved on to something new. What came next surprised us both: seven handwritten journals of story detailing the plot for four books out of a five part book series, all done before I graduated from high school.
It was during those four years that I learned a majority of the tricks and habits I’ve carried with me into my continued writing process. The core of my passion for writing came out of that story I crafted over the course of those four years; even the slow parts were thrilling for me, each one presenting a new opportunity for me to expand the characters, plot, and world I was tediously crafting.
The slow parts always presented a unique challenge for me, however, as I’ve come to learn they do for every writer. I learned then that part of being a writer – in fact, most of being a writer – means that sometimes, you’ll be forced to write things you’re less than passionate about in order to pave the way for the topics you’re on fire to write. Sometimes it’s a slow part of a book plot, other times it’s a dry and tedious paper for a required college class. In a book, skipping to the cool action scene would be a tempting offer; however, I established my writing style for my book as strictly chronological in order to encourage me to actually write the less interesting parts of the plot. In hindsight, that decision saved my novel from becoming a disjointed collection of action scenes and turned it into the comprehensive plot it would eventually become.
When I graduated high school, I got a new computer to take off to college and had the bright idea to transcribe my book onto a digital medium with the long-term goal of publishing it. Looking back on my writing from my freshman year of high school, I quickly learned the value of the revision process and set out to completely rewrite and overhaul my book from start to finish. After four years of that process (and juggling school and work), I'm proud to say that I’ve completed the first arc in its entirety. The comparison between the starting work and what I have now is miles apart and I’m now moving into the second arc with the goal of completing book one of my five part book series by the end of the year.
Of course, none of my efforts on my book series would have been accomplished without the passion for writing that I was able to reignite by starting my blog. Early on in my college career, I was finding myself with less and less time to write for myself and was beginning to see my creative writing waning. As I moved into my sophomore year and began the course requirements to work in the MC Writing Center, I began to start writing more poetry. This eventually led to my decision to create a poetry blog online as a space for me to share my poetry with a larger audience and hold me accountable to myself to actually write poetry consistently. After two and a half years, my blog, Mangata.me, has a collection of over 80 poems. I try to publish new poems every month, a practice which has taught me discipline in all areas of my writing. Writing poetry has also given me an avenue to express myself, my thoughts and feelings, and the things that are important to me in a flexible, raw, and often-unstructured format that has helped form my style as a writer.
If you asked me to look back on my time writing so far and tell you why I did it all, my answer would come back to those bedtime stories I told my brother, where my time as a storyteller began. A writer is a storyteller who recognizes that every story deserves the chance to be told, from the very real stories of the triumphs and heartbreaks of our fellow human beings to the fantastic imaginary tales we create in our own minds. As a tutor in the Writing Center, it’s my hope that, by helping the writers who come to see me with the stories they need to tell, I can help encourage them to write the stories that they want to tell.
I hope that Elijah’s writing journey has inspired your own writing journey! The journey of every writer is unique to them, filled with experiences, conversations, and texts that impacted their writing style and beliefs. A writer’s journey often includes academic writing, such as essays written for a course, or creative writing, like the novel and blog posts Elijah has written. The Writing Center tutors are available to help writers with both creative writing and academic writing because our purpose is to contribute to the journeys of every writer we encounter by engaging in discussions about each writer’s writing, offering suggestions on writing strategies, and improving their writing skills. I encourage you to stop by the Writing Center to receive help with your writing, whether that be creative or academic writing.
Stop by the Writing Center to receive help with your writing journey!