How My Parents Made Me A Writer

How My Parents Made Me A Writer

I’ve told stories my whole life. My parents made sure that I knew it was worthwhile.

I’ve always loved reading and telling stories, but not everyone who reads or tells stories becomes a writer. I’ve recently found myself trying to piece together how it all started. I could point to many teachers who have shaped my writing, especially since I enrolled at the University of Iowa, but none of them were around to get me on the road to being a writer in the first place. For that, I have my parents to thank.

My parents kept our house full of books and they often sat and read with my siblings and me when we were little. However, there are people who grow up in houses full of books who don’t grow up with reading and writing as their favorite things (my brother is one of them). My love of stories came from inside me. I can’t remember anyone ever teaching me to narrate the adventures of my toys in the dollhouse, it was just a fun thing that I did on my own. I have two major childhood memories of things my parents did for me that, I believe, set me on the path to becoming not just a story-lover, but a writer.

One morning, while I stood at the front door, waiting for the bus to come and take me to kindergarten, my dad sat down next to me and started to ask me questions about the story that I’d narrated with the toys before breakfast. Who were the characters? What were they doing? I answered his questions and he made notes on a piece of paper. When I got home that day, he presented me with a typed sheet of paper. On it was the story that I’d told him, all official and in print. I still get excited thinking about that day. It was the day that my Dad showed me that the stories that I casually made up for my toys were worth hearing, they could be written down and read. People would be interested in them, just like how people were interested in "Harry Potter" and "The Berenstein Bears." After that, I started to write my stories down and I told them to other people more often.

My mom provided the other big contribution to making me a writer, but because the memories of those moments are much less fun, it’s taken me years to realize how important they were. In elementary school, there was a competition called “Young Authors.” I wrote little books for that contest every year. Mom was the one who told me that my stories didn’t make sense and that I needed to edit. I would kick, scream, and insist that my stories were fine just the way that they were, but she wouldn’t back down or give up. She would stick with me until I had improved my work. In doing so, Mom showed me that my stories were worth putting effort into and that I could and should improve my craft. Even though I never won the Young Authors contest, I know that that was when my writing really started to improve. I learned to self-critique and to put my writing in other people’s hands not just for praise, but for constructive criticism.

To this day, my parents are still my cheerleaders and my editors. I’d probably still love stories without their influence, but I know that I wouldn’t be the writer who I am today. I’m heading towards a future in which writing is the main thing that I do with my life and, while telling fun little stories to my toys was a good starting point, I couldn’t have made it this far on fun alone.

Cover Image Credit: Sophie Katz

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A Playlist From The iPod Of A Middle Schooler In 2007

I will always love you, Akon.

Something happened today that I never thought in a million years would happen. I opened up a drawer at my parents' house and I found my pink, 4th generation iPod Nano. I had not seen this thing since I graduated from the 8th grade, and the headphones have not left my ears since I pulled it out of that drawer. It's funny to me how music can take you back. You listen to a song and suddenly you're wearing a pair of gauchos, sitting on the bleachers in a gym somewhere, avoiding boys at all cost at your seventh grade dance. So if you were around in 2007 and feel like reminiscing, here is a playlist straight from the iPod of a middle schooler in 2007.

1. "Bad Day" — Daniel Powter

2. "Hips Don't Lie" — Shakira ft. Wyclef Jean

SEE ALSO: 23 Iconic Disney Channel Moments We Will Never Forget

3. "Unwritten" — Natasha Bedingfield

4. "Run It!" — Chris Brown

5. "Girlfriend" — Avril Lavigne

6. "Move Along" — All-American Rejects

7. "Fergalicious" — Fergie

8. "Every Time We Touch" — Cascada

9. "Ms. New Booty" — Bubba Sparxxx

10. "Chain Hang Low" — Jibbs

11. "Smack That" — Akon ft. Eminem

12. "Waiting on the World to Change" — John Mayer

13. "Stupid Girls" — Pink

14. "Irreplaceable" — Beyonce

15. "Umbrella" — Rihanna ft. Jay-Z

16. "Don't Matter" — Akon

17. "Party Like A Rockstar" — Shop Boyz

18. "This Is Why I'm Hot" — Mims

19. "Beautiful Girls" — Sean Kingston

20. "Bartender" — T-Pain

21. "Pop, Lock and Drop It" — Huey

22. "Wait For You" — Elliot Yamin

23. "Lips Of An Angel" — Hinder

24. "Face Down" — Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

25. "Chasing Cars" — Snow Patrol

26. "No One" — Alicia Keys

27. "Cyclone" — Baby Bash ft. T-Pain

28. "Crank That" — Soulja Boy

29. "Kiss Kiss" — Chris Brown

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30. "Lip Gloss" — Lil' Mama

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My AP Environmental Science Class' Cookie Mining Experiment Shows Why Capitalism Is Destroying The Planet

Who cares about the environment with profits this high?


With the AP exams in May approaching quickly, my AP Environmental Science class has wasted no time in jumping right into labs. To demonstrate the damage to the environment done by strip mining, we were instructed to remove the chocolate chips from cookies.

The experiment in itself was rather simple. We profited from fully or partially extracted chips ($8 for a full piece and $4 for a partial) and lost from buying tools, using time and area and incurring fines.

This might seem simplistic, but it showcased the nature of disastrous fossil fuel companies.

We were fined a $1 per minute we spent mining. It cost $4 per tool we bought (either tweezers or paper clips) and 50 cents for every square centimeter of cookie we mined.

Despite the seemingly overbearing charges compared to the sole way to profit, it was actually really easy to profit.

If we found even a partial chocolate chip per minute, that's $3 profit or utilization elsewhere. Tools were an investment that could be made up each with a partial chip, and clearly we were able to find much, much more than just one partial chip per tool.

Perhaps the most disproportionally easiest thing to get around were the fines. We were liable to be fined for habitat destruction, dangerous mining conditions with faulty tools, clutter, mess and noise level. No one in the class got fined for noise level nor faulty tools, but we got hit with habitat destruction and clutter, both of which added up to a mere $6.

We managed to avoid higher fines by deceiving our teacher by pushing together the broken cookie landscapes and swiping away the majority of our mess before being examined for fining purposes. This was amidst all of our cookies being broken into at least three portions.

After finding many, many chips, despite the costs of mining, we profited over $100. We earned a Franklin for destroying our sugary environment.

We weren't even the worst group.

It was kind of funny the situations other groups simulated to their cookies. We were meant to represent strip mining, but one group decided to represent mountaintop removal. Mountaintop removal is where companies go to extract resources from the tops of mountains via explosions to literally blow the tops off. This group did this by literally pulverizing their cookies to bits and pieces with their fists.

They incurred the maximum fine of $45. They didn't profit $100, however.

They profited over $500 dollars.

In the context of our environmental science class, these situations were anywhere from funny to satisfying. In the context of the real world, however, the consequences are devastating our environment.

Without even mentioning the current trajectory we're on approaching a near irreversible global temperature increase even if we took drastic measures this moment, mining and fracking is literally destroying ecosystems.

We think of earthquakes as creating mass amounts of sudden movement and unholy deep trenches as they fracture our crust. With dangerous mining habits, we do this ourselves.

Bigger companies not even related to mining end up destroying the planet and even hundreds of thousands of lives. ExxonMobil, BP? Still thriving in business after serial oil spills over the course of their operation. Purdue Pharma, the company who has misled the medical community for decades about the effects of OxyContin and its potential for abuse, is still running and ruining multitudes more lives every single day.

Did these companies receive fines? Yes.

But their business model is too profitable to make the fines have just about any effect upon their operation.

In our cookie mining simulation, we found that completely obliterating the landscape was much more profitable than being careful and walking on eggshells around the laws. Large, too-big-to-fail companies have held the future of our planet in their greedy paws and have likewise pulverized our environment, soon enough to be unable to return from.

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