From our Editors: why Su Young Lee writes

Su Young Lee—this year’s prose editor here. Currently a sophomore who hopefully and finally narrowed it down to studying English Literature, Journalism, and Creative Writing (fun fact, I’m indecisive). Why (How) I Write   I see a man with his daughter on his lap, brushing her hair away from her small sleeping face as if they weren’t sitting in the middle of a crowded subway train. I like their intimacy and decide that maybe I’ll write about them someday. I never do. I sit in a café and eavesdrop on a job interview as the man becomes increasingly and amusingly anxious, visualizing his half-uttered sentences in the air, full of ellipses. I sit in my room on an especially bad day and decide that the imagined tragedy of how I feel will look good on paper, but all I can manage is jot down a few phrases that all sound like half-finished lines from terrible poetry—my poetry—and I throw the piece of paper away. You see, I like thinking about writing. Sometimes I convince myself I’m really a writer because all I can think about is how something will look on a page.     Then I come to my senses and decide that a writer is probably someone who actually writes. This is discouraging because writing is kind of hard. I plan characters, conversations, odd little phrases but when it comes to writing them down and filling in the gaps I find that I’m not a writer after all. Not a writer I’d like to be, or maybe I think I should be, the clichéd artist tortured by the task of translating their genius onto paper. The only thing I’m tortured by is my fear, laziness, lack of inspiration. While everything I see and hear and feel I think about writing down, it’s rare that I actually do.     This is partly why I sign up to a creative writing class. People say writing comes from the heart, the soul, from whatever other metaphorical body part, but honestly sometimes I just need someone to make me write because otherwise I never will. I have to make it inevitable because when I finally start writing I confirm what I suspected all along—that I hate writing.    This is the process of writing that I loathe: in bed. I don’t like sitting on a desk because it seems like I’m doing work, even though writing is really hard work. I put on some music before I decide that it’s distracting. I stare down at a blank piece of paper—or Word document. I tend to start with paper the first few times because I think writing by hand is romantic but I throw down my pen and hate myself finding I have more scribbles and crossed-out words than useable material. Blankness is encouraging—threatening—and maybe promising. The ugly blacked out words, however, are sad visual reminders of my failure that I’m too conceited to stand.     But if I hate it so much, why do I do it? Despite all the complaining and self-loathing, there’s something addicting about the adrenaline that comes with writing, beyond the effects of all the caffeine I consume. It’s the starting that’s hard, but once something is on the page the next words tumble after each other. I let myself ramble. When I finish the piece (the draft) it’s like finally letting out air after holding my breath. It’s at that moment when I close my laptop and go to sleep, because I conveniently write in bed, that I think I have found the reason I write. The feeling of satisfaction. There are a lot of other and often forgotten reasons too, like how I want to be eloquent but writing is the only way I can achieve it, how I like to hide behind the anonymity of words on paper, but how I also like the intimacy it provides. Sometimes I hate it because having to write something interesting is a reminder that my actual life is unexciting, but maybe I like that I can live through the pages I write. I don’t know if that’s sad. Sometimes I think being a writer means being sad—dragging up things that have happened, bad things, or things that never will.        Ultimately though, being a writer means writing. I may hate the act of writing but I love its effects, a similar relationship I have to cooking and actually eating the food. Hate the labour, if you will; devour the fruit. If I want to be a writer there’s really nothing else for me to do but write. That’s the one thing that all writers of all genres have in common—writing words, instead of just thinking about them. No matter how bad you think you are or how much you dislike the physical act of writing, writers write. So to all you aspiring writers: give yourself deadlines, make others give you deadlines, find some way to force yourself to put words on a page.

From our Editors: an Afternoon in Brooklyn with Jenny Cronin

Although art appreciation, or even collection, may seem like a daunting concept for the average college student, it is actually quite an enjoyable experience. Have you ever wanted to look at some amazing art, but found it wasn’t accessible? Galleries are not always the most welcoming environments, with snobby shop assistants or outrageous price ranges that no one younger than their mid-thirties can afford. But, the college student is in luck, because there are also places like The Cotton Candy Machine in Brooklyn—a gallery that accommodates all wallet sizes and has a wonderful staff very eager to be of service.IMG_0299 The shop, located on 1st Street, has a very fresh and modern feel, and caters to a younger audience, so if you’re looking for something to do on a Saturday afternoon, or you just want to see some cool drawings, toys, paintings, wood carvings etc., this is the place for you. The bright blue benches outside will draw you in and the art will make you stay. They break out some crazy and innovative artists that have a lot to say even on small surfaces. In fact, the shop is well known for its quaint sized drawings and paintings.The Cotton Candy Machine (even the name sounds cool and inviting!) was co-founded by an artist herself, Tara McPherson, who makes extremely colorful, detailed paintings that can be bought for as little as $20 as a lithograph. She sells her art in many other forms, including shirts and tank tops. The shop also has featured artists hanging on the walls, a toy, sticker, and button collection by the register, and a center table dedicated to art books and magazines.IMG_0300Did I mention that this art gallery happens to be a convenient 15-minute walk from Smorgasburg’s Williamsburg location (open Saturdays from 11am-6pm until November 21st) where you can pick up unique foods from over 100 different local food vendors? I seriously recommend the Pineapple Black Pepper Ginger Soda (all natural) from Bolivian Llama Party, the Ramen Burger, and a Hibiscus doughnut from Dough. IMG_0295There are also tons of other unique places in the area that deserved to be checked out, like Artists and Fleas, a handcrafted art and vintage market. Brooklyn doesn’t just have an amazing writing atmosphere, but appreciates all forms of art, handcrafting, and individuality. I highly recommend checking out all the above-mentioned places for a great afternoon that won’t disappoint!--Jenny CroninThe credit for the  first and third photographs of this blog post goes to IG @thecottoncandymachine!