As I venture through my senior year, it’s funny to look back on my time at Penn and see how I have shaped my Penn journey along the way. If I could draw a map of the past four years, one the most important sites would be the Kelly Writers House. Originally, I came to Penn because I was recruited through the Creative Writing program. I have taken classes in the Arts cafe. I have had meetings on the oversized and well-loved leather couches. I have listened to famous poets and journalists read their work only a few feet away from me. This semester, I am taking part in an alumni mentorship series that brings in Penn alumni to discuss their careers in journalism and publishing to Penn seniors.
Really, there’s so much to say about the Kelly Writers House that I couldn’t possibly get it all down here, which is ironic considering so much about my experience at the Writers House has made me --you guessed it -- a better writer. The Writers House is a personal experience. Every person there has a different relationship with it that is as unique as they are. For me, the Writers House is a cozy, comforting space where I can go for exciting community programs that share new ideas, enrapturing works, and plenty of homemade cookies.
And, if I’m being totally honest, it’s a place I’ve only recently gotten to know well. I have lived less than a block away from the Writers House for my entire four years at Penn, and I visited the Writers House often enough to feel somewhat comfortable. But I was nervous. When I went to events, I would sit in the back and leave early. I didn’t feel comfortable just hanging around the space. I thought I needed a reason to be there, as if wanting to be in a welcoming space wasn’t reason enough. Still, I knew this could be an important space on campus for me and yet I avoided it. I think I was scared that I didn’t fit in because I was struggling to see myself as a writer, and, more importantly, a writer worth reading.
In the flurry and finality of senior year, I have vowed to spend more time at the Writers House. As corny as it sounds, it really is never too late to join a group on campus. Look at me, I’m a senior and this semester I joined Penn Appetit and the Writers House, though anyone is welcome at the Writers House at any time.
I can’t say the transition was not without fear. I still get nervous sometimes when I feel like a situation is too “new”, but coming to Penn was a pretty new experience four years ago, and I feel better and stronger for it. As for “am I a writer?”, for now the answer is yes. The Writers House has taught me that being a writer has less to with award winning writing and more to do with the bravery it takes to share your creativity with others. Keep doing that, and you’re a writer, my friend. Flowing through the Writers House doors are painters, cartoonists, writers, poets, historians, activists, athletes, engineers, journalists, and more. In my view, the goal of the Writers House is inclusivity and the door is always open.