Name: Taylor Colvin
Year: Class of 2014
Hometown: Mt. Airy, Maryland
Major: Writing Seminars
So once upon a time, I was a first semester freshman who was so scared about having to prove myself at a place like Hopkins that I sat in the corner in the fetal position, chewing on my own hair. Just kidding, obviously. I grew up in a little place fondly known as the sticks. Don’t get me wrong. I am head over heelsin love with the sticks. I miss the sticks and anytime I have a free weekend, I go home and watch my cousins play little league football and ride ATV’s.
But, making the transition from my local public high school to Hopkins was daunting, and any abstract fear I harbored in my belly about keeping my head above waterin college was only magnified tenfold by the following conversation:
“So Taylor, where are you going to college?”
“Oh that’s wonderful. Congratulations. So you want to be a doctor?”
Lather, rinse, repeat. I’m a Writing Seminars major. In a lot of ways, I’ve been a Writing Seminars major since I was old enough to talk, and I would stop old women in the grocery store to tell them about my light-up little mermaid shoes. I don’t mean to wax poetic on anybody who’s reading this, but I was totally, one hundred percent addicted to James Harriet novels when I was seven. I also loved The Hobbit, Chronicles of Narnia, and Artemis Fowl. I dressed as Ron Weasley for Halloween two years in a row. My taste in literature is constantly evolving, but more than anything else in life, I am completely fascinated by a good story.
That fascination is something I share with my peers and professors in the Writing Seminars program. I think the bottom line is that if you clicked on the Writing Seminars link on the sidebar of this webpage, you’re probably a storyteller too. My advice to anyone who is considering Writing Seminars as a potential major is simple: Take courage. In the Writing Seminars program, you are in fantastic, accomplished hands, and you are surrounded by peers who root for you, and push you to be better than you thought possible.
I have yet to meet a professor in the Writing Seminars department who has been anything less than completely inspiring. Professor Greg Williamson, my Intro to Poetry professor, invented a form of poetry called “Double Exposure”. Some of his work can be read here.
My Intro to Fiction teacher (I’m also lucky enough to call him my advisor), Professor Tristan Davies, writes some of the most beautiful short stories I have ever read. I just finished reading his book, Cake, and I still can’t believe that such a great author actually takes the time to edit my work.
I also view my fellow Writing Sems majors as one of the more significant contributors to my writing education at Hopkins. I care about the work that I produce because they care about reading it. I’m continually amazed in workshop when someone points out a character motivation, a plot hole, or a missed opportunity in one of my short stories or poems that I didn’t notice myself. These are students who care about each other, and who care about writing. They are ambitious, involved, and articulate. I am proud to call myself one of them.
Take courage. The decision to dedicate your education to writing is scary. I know this fact very intimately. The stereotype of the penniless writer is a prevalent one, but I promise you that it is not one proliferated by students and graduates of the Writing Seminars program. If you have the time, look up Carrie Jerrell, one of my new favorite poets, and a graduate of the Writing Seminars program.
If you are afraid of majoring in writing now, understand that the atmosphere at Hopkins will slowly, but definitively replace that fear in your belly with fire, and as a writer, nothing is more important.
Now, since I previously mentioned that I love a good story, I’m going to relay one of my particular favorites to you. (In advance, I would like to let you know that that the theme of this story is, “Haters Gonna Hate”.)
One particular night, during the first semester of my freshman year at Hopkins, I struck up a conversation with the boyfriend of one of my housemates. He will remain anonymous, but for storytelling purposes, I will refer to him as Snarky Boyfriend Boy (SBB for short.)
SBB and I were having a pleasant hallway conversation, when he asked me what my major was. I told him I was a Writing Seminars major, and he immediately looked at me and said, deadpan, “I would like caramel with my latte, please.” “What?” I asked, believing that I had misheard. He repeated himself. I had not misheard him. What followed was an uncomfortable exchange that I will chalk off to his own social awkwardness and my inability to find my key in my purse, so that I could unlock my door, and then promptly slam it in his face.
After lots of stuttering on both of our parts, he said, in a final, parting blow,
“Well, come on. What kind of decent paying job are you expecting to get as a writer?”
One night, a few weeks later, a rather absurd series of photos showed up on my Facebook newsfeed depicting SBB and his friends, all very practical Econ majors, in a movie theatre wearing polyester black capes, face paint, and round fake eyeglasses with tape on the center. They were at the midnight premier of part one of the final film installment of Harry Potter.
That evening, I went to sleep satisfied, knowing that even if the chance is one in a million, as a writer, I have the potential to influence the world in a massive way. I am a Writing Seminars major at Johns Hopkins University. I have the chance to make storytellers like me, and skeptics like SBB pay (a lot) to dress up like wizards, and sit together in a dark movie theatre at midnight, in contented, enthusiastic solidarity.
To further your exploration of this academic program and ask any question you may have of current students, be sure to visit the Hopkins Forums’ Academics: The Insider Perspective and Writing Seminars question thread.