Letter from a WriteGirl Alum
For those who attended the launch of Lines & Breaks – the first-ever digital literary journal from WriteGirl – the Zoom event had all the sparkle of a WriteGirl workshop: exciting special guests, readings from mentees and alums, and creative writing prompts sprinkled throughout.
For me, in the minutes before the Zoom room filled with multicolored boxes, the launch seemed like a step back in time. Six years have passed since I was a WriteGirl mentee, hugging a notebook to my chest as I walked wide-eyed through workshops at Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Autry Museum and the Japanese American National Museum. I’ve felt the same thrill of soapbox at conference panels and thesis meetings now, but the sense of empowerment instilled at those early WriteGirl workshops has never dulled.
The Lines & Breaks launch brought all that excitement back to life. Even over Zoom, the event buzzed with the same enthusiastic support I’ve come to associate with WriteGirl workshops. After each poem and excerpt came to a close, the chat flooded with words of affirmation, responding in turn to the poignant repetition of Sosé Hovannisian’s “I Am an Armenian Girl,” the inquisitive strength of Ari Benor’s “Questions, or Answers?,” and the gorgeous melancholy of Hyla Etame’s “Ndolé.”
After the final reading reached its end, my sense of time travel returned. As everyone ducked their heads to design manhole covers for the final writing activity, a comfortable silence filled the Zoom room. That silence – so different from the isolation of the pandemic or the harried quiet of college exams – is just as intertwined with my memories of WriteGirl as that first taste of creative empowerment.
It is the silence between synapses, the pop of an ember before it bursts into light, the flash of a bulb as an idea springs into being. It’s a silence that comes in the wake of anxious excitement, warm encouragement and words of affirmation – and for the moments in between, there is Lines & Breaks.
– Emily Burton, age 24 (alum)
Emily Burton (she/her) is a WriteGirl alum with previous publications in Capsule Stories, Columbia Journal and The Northridge Review.