A senior boy calmly walked over, inquiring about my paper. Anxiety flooded through every inch of my body, enveloping every vein, artery, and capillary that it could find. Writing has always been a vulnerable process for me. Even as a young, inexperienced writer my fantasies of castles and princesses were ensured with privacy by my hot pink Princess Arial diary that had a fragile lock on the outside. Now there was no lock, nothing keeping this stranger from grasping at my tangible vulnerability. I reluctantly told him I was struggling with the coherency of the paper and my use of transitions from paragraph to paragraph. He contemplated my comments for a moment then asked if I could read the paper out loud. I quickly obliged out of nervousness. I never shared it with anyone besides a teacher, and here I was reading it in front of a person who was six years older than me. I began to read my paper and stumbled over every grammar mistake with great embarrassment. My heart was pounding a mile per second, as I was pleading to any higher power to end this agony. I saw the last paragraph in sight and quickly felt a wave of relief rush through my body. I quickly spat out each word and sentence so the seemingly never-ending embarrassment could finally end.
After enduring a painful five minutes, I was finally done sharing my writing with a stranger. I immediately felt relieved that the process was over. However, my anxiety quickly resumed as I came to the realization that now it was time to receive the harsh feedback this senior was sure to give. His mouth opened, my chest tightened, and words that just sounded like frivolous noises at the time came out of the abyss any human would call a mouth. Vibrations lingered in my ears as it took me longer than usual to decipher the meaning of them. I realized what he said and was astonished. He commended my skills in writing and enjoyed the creativity I displayed through the protagonist, specifically describing it as an unconventional hero’s tale. My anxiety transformed into a kind of serenity that flushed through my entire body. I had never experienced pride and confidence in my writing before. This senior thought my story explored originality and creativity that he had yet to see, and I should, too. I thanked him for his praise and inquired about the weaknesses in my paper. He pointed out exactly where he thought I needed to be stronger. Together, we worked on those weak spots and made the story stronger and more tangible to my audience.
The Episcopal writing center offers a variety of unique aspects that commonly go overlooked within our community. For me it is a safe haven. A place where I can escape from the grueling 8 hour school day. I can comfortably lay back on the navy couch and enjoy a nice warm cup of tea while chatting amongst other writing fellows that also seek the writing center’s refuge. For others, the writing center offers a chance for peers to help peers be better writers, to trade tips and tricks and help our writing community grow stronger. I comically look back now at my first writing center experience and marvel at my skittishness in the place that I now find so calming. I guess I thought that all of the people who are a part of the writing center were these big shot writers who were adept in the faculty of writing. But now I look at myself as a person who is a part of the writing center and know that I am far from obtaining expertise in this dexterous skill. I learn things from my clients just like they learn things from me. Writing fellows are here to help make your writing experience better and encourage writing as more of a hobby than a task. I hope more students will choose to seek out the writing center, whether it is to receive help on a paper or to lay back on that couch that gets exceedingly more comfy while enjoying tea or coffee. It has transformed me from that shy, skittish girl mentioned earlier to an outgoing, friendlier person. I hope other people find as much admiration for that place as I do.
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