Lang Pre-College Students Find Their Inspiration From Writing In The City
In the Eugene Lang Summer Intensives Writing Program, pre-college students in their junior or senior years are given the opportunity to take a four-credit, college-level course at The New School. In these courses, students are introduced to writing practices supported by renowned faculty and engaged peers to develop their own unique voice. Pre-college students, Cameron and Katie, share their experiences from this year’s Summer Intensives Program.
From as far back as she can remember, 17-year-old Cameron always had a love for writing. Before she enrolled in the Writing In The City course through the Lang Summer Intensives Program, she may not have felt comfortable enough to call herself “a writer.” She saw this course as the perfect opportunity to delve deeper into the craft. Cameron explains, “My goal going into the program was to figure out if I could produce viable, purposeful material while still maintaining my love for the simple act of sitting down and writing.”
She says, “The program really pushed me in that I was forced to write even when I wasn’t necessarily in the mood or feeling particularly inspired, an invaluable skill for any writer.”
Writing In The City is a Lang Summer Intensive course taught by children’s novelist and young adult author, Daphne Benedis-Grab. In this course, students are expected to write a weekly work of fiction to be workshopped together amongst the class. On top of exploring various elements of story creation, students are also given reading assignments to better understand the craft and taken on weekly excursions around the city to further inspire their writing projects.
Cameron ultimately decided to enroll in the summer program after taking two campus tours, which helped to further solidify her admiration of the school’s values and the energy of prominent faculty and talented peers. She says, “I felt that I would be free develop on my own and write about edgy and intriguing concepts while receiving insightful feedback.”
Additionally, the program brought Cameron the opportunities for social collaboration, immersive study and excursion in the vibrant life of New York City, and networking to build lasting connections with fellow professionals, artists, and activists in her classes. Taking advantage of the opportunity to attend school in New York was a no-brainer for her.
“I’ve lived in Tampa, in a small area called ‘Davis Islands,’ my entire life,” says Cameron. “To truly exist within the crazy world of New York City, which you always feel a bit excluded from as a visitor passing through, was one of the most special and formative experiences I’ve had thus far. New York has this magic about it which makes you feel as if anything is possible.”
Cameron also highlights the excursions and off-campus activities as an extra benefit of the program’s influence on her writing. “Going to different areas of the city, such as Little Italy and Chelsea, was so helpful to our writing and really got our creative juices flowing,” she says. “The excursions also allowed us to bond as a group and really get to know each other, which was very helpful in providing a comfortable environment within the writing workshops.”
Similarly, pre-college student Katie also chose to apply to the Lang summer program, Writing In The City, because of her knowledge of The New School’s reputation for stimulating minds through the arts and social engagement in an intimate environment. She says, “Praise for the school particularly piqued my interest because I feel that writing is something that is personal to the writer and that setting inspires and provides for a deeper discussion.”
She shares, “I had previously held the misconception that you have to wait for everything to be perfect before being inspired and actually getting the words to flow. The truth that I learned is that the words only flow if you work hard and are dedicated to what you are doing because otherwise you'll be waiting for something that will never come.”
From her own experience in the program, Katie was able to meet her personal writing goals by examining different character types and creating short stories on a regular basis. On top of exploring the craft of writing itself, , she explored her own interests, built lasting friendships with like-minded classmates, and gained inspiration from the people and places in New York City.Katie says, “I think it's interesting to incorporate these things into my writing because in an odd way it helps me better understand the world around me.”
As the program drew to a close, Cameron was surprised to find her goals shifting along with a new sense of confidence that she developed. Finally comfortable in her ability, she found her focus to create stories that audiences enjoy reading.
Katie shares one of the most important lessons learned from her time in the program: to be true to herself and her writing, because that’s when it becomes most genuine. She says, “This has helped further shape my writing in that now I can really get out of my own head and focus on how I want to shape and build my stories.”
Written by Casey O'Connell for Open Campus.