Over the last six months or so, I’ve seriously started thinking about my future plans, academic and otherwise. After much internal debate I took a course in Creative Writing and it was honestly one of the best decisions I’ve made. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it helped me knock down a few fears…

You see, I’ve been questioning my chosen degree and career options for the past year. I have been so focused on finishing my undergraduate studies properly and ticking off the various requirements that I utterly forgot that I was supposed to be enjoying this journey. So, in an attempt to somewhat dial-back my ambitions, I made a resolution at the very start of this past summer – just one little resolution: to return to my previously unbreakable habit of reading a book a week. To read something for pleasure, a non-academic read.

I’m embarrassed to admit that the only novel I read over the past four months was The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. The fact that it took me about four week’s worth of Translink journeys to finish Plath’s novel is more than a little humiliating for a Lit student, but I’d like to think that part of the reason behind my slowed reading pace is that I am now taking the time to savour what I choose to read. When I was younger everything felt competitive, including reading. Since all my friends were racing through Rowling and Tolkien door-stoppers, I wanted to read as much and as quickly as they were. As I got older I think I was genuinely devouring books as much for my personal gain as to ‘keep up with the crowd’.

Although I was fairly disappointed in myself for not meeting my goals, I think I overestimated how much I could accomplish while taking a full course load. It was challenging to motivate myself to read in the little spare time I could scrounge up, but I think my changed reading habits have enlightened me in their own way. I made the transition from Enid Blyton’s boarding schools series to Danielle Steel and Paulo Coelho at age 12 (withhold judgment about what tickled my adolescent interests, please!). These writers fuelled my fascination about people, experiences, and stories, leading me to speed through books effortlessly. However, now that I’m slightly older, I’m realizing that I must have glossed over so many details in the texts I thought I was actively appreciating.

With rarely any free time to myself in the face of unending piles of scholarly reads, I’m becoming aware that I need to redirect my goals to fit the current pace of my life. Thus, my goal these days is to pick one piece of literature and combine it with my newfound love of screenwriting; whether it’s a poem or short (or long!) story, I am to read it through once, grasp whatever I can, and turn into a new form of creative writing. In prose writing, readers typically get at least a fair amount of insight to characters and plots. However, in screenwriting, all the writer gets to give are slug lines and words to dialogues, which leave everything else up to interpretation, directing, and acting. Not only does this teach me about other forms of art than what I’m accustomed to, but it also helps me try to really take in a character from prose/fiction and turn them into a three-dimensional one with just words of interaction.

Cassie Dominic is an international student studying English and Classics with big dreams and an obsession with all things Jean Rhys and Shonda Rhimes.

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