Hello everyone. I look forward to getting to know each one of you and am very excited about this seminar. I know that we will learn and grow together in a supportive and collaborative environment.
At the insistence of my older sister, I learned to read and write at a very early age. She always encouraged me to read above my grade level. The first book that set my mind aflame was The Secret Garden. Then it was The Outsiders and Jane Eyre that became treasured favorites. What intrigued me most was the authors themselves. Like Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye, I wondered what it would be like to call them on the telephone and have conversations. It is exciting that in today’s digital age, you can have contact with writers! You could most certainly conclude that great writers were (and are) celebrities for me.
My interest in putting pen to paper was ushered by my affinity for reading and art. I would warrant that many of us have had the same experience. The printed page, a painting or a sculpture always caused me to wonder what the artist was thinking when he or she started his or her work. How did it evolve? Did the artist end up with that which he or she expected? Writing is akin to cooking a new dish: you have all of the ingredients on your counter, but then you improvise along the way to suit your unique tastes. Writing should never be static. It is an organic process in which ideas move in different directions as research and perspective changes. An essential part of my writing is challenging my own initial assumptions. Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. In a similar vein, I believe that thoughts and writing must be examined and cross-examined.
Speaking of examination and cross-examination, I have also written as part of my career as an attorney. This always required me to anticipate my adversary’s arguments in order to be ready to write reply briefs and be subject to rigorous questioning in the courtroom. I enjoyed the latter the most because performance art and public speaking were parts of my earlier education. I have also earned an L.L.M. in intellectual property. This is important to me because it has peaked my awareness about digitally protecting my own work. While I continue to practice, my passion lies in creative writing.
My own writing in the afore-mentioned realm has been driven by the need for self-expression. Instead of writing in a journal as a child and teenager, I always wrote poetry and used symbolism to capture the essences of my experiences. As an adolescent, it is was often difficult for me to lay my feelings bare in literal terms; the blank page was too daunting when I tried to do so. It was also the medium I often chose for performing school assignments. Poetry proved to be a fruitful genre for my writing and self-development.
As an adult, I continue to write poetry; however, I also write to capture experiences and memories in a much more literal manner. This is true whether I choose to express myself in the realms of fiction or non-fiction. My goal is to be a better writer and to capture memory and culture. I grew up in an Italian/Sicilian home. There is much to explore with regards to my nuclear and extended families and the extent to which they did and did not assimilate within their communities. I seek to publish a collection of fictional short stories, based on true events. I would also like to write the “next great [Sicilian-American] novel.” The historical lifeblood of our country is one that is steeped in immigrants’ stories and they are very important to understanding and navigating the world.
The graduate program presents a unique opportunity to sharpen my research and writing skills. One of my interests is historical fiction and I look forward to learning methodologies for writing and researching in this genre. I have found the professors and students to be warm and very open in communicating their thoughts, both in and out of class. I look forward to learning with all of the members of our bright and diverse group.