Throwback Article: Reading, writing helped shape my career path

I wrote this article while I was an editor for the Spartan Daily. Decided to bring it back, since I am currently working on my writing career.

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Writing and reading go hand in hand; without one, you cannot have the other.

According to dosomething.org, one in four children in America grow up without learning how to read.

The article also states that kids who don’t read proficiently by fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of school.

There are many other disheartening and discouraging statistics about literacy in America that do not surprise me.

When I was an English tutor at San Jose City College, I would help people who were taking a high level English class.

Although there were many people who were excellent writers, there were some who had made it into high level courses without even knowing how to write a thesis.

Writing has always been a big part of my life and along that came a love for reading.

From the time I learned to read, I perused each book my hands grabbed.

I became a bookworm and was damn proud of it.

One of my biggest influences for writing creatively is J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

The Harry Potter books have sold more than 450 million copies worldwide.

When I first found out about it, I had a strong connection.

Harry was an abused child who dreamed of a better life.

He lived with people who were supposed to love and protect him yet didn’t.

I easily put myself in his shoes, especially since both of my parents died when I was younger.

Some people might find it strange that a children’s story can have so much influence on someone.

When the world around you is ugly, escaping to Neverland, Narnia, Middle Earth or Hogwarts is a better alternative.

It never mattered to me people thought it was weird I liked Harry Potter, even when I was repeatedly called a “Harry Potter freak.”

I even wrote a few fan fictions without even knowing.

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After I decided I wanted to major in journalism, I also decided to minor in creative writing.

I believe it is necessary for people with diverse backgrounds to write books.

I noticed a long time ago some of the more popular authors were white people writing about the white experience.

According to a study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin, of 3,200 children’s books published in 2013, roughly 93 stories were about black people, 34 were about Native Americans, 69 were about Asians and 57 were about Latinos.

There are so many unique stories that need to be told.

Future authors need to include all diverse experiences, whether inspired by people in the LGBTQ community, people of color or with disabilities.

The list goes on forever.

Books are an integral way for children to connect to society, learn about the past and understand life from different point of view.

If the point of view is always from the same perspective, how can anyone learn?

The Cooperative Children’s Book Center also mentioned that census data shows 37 percent of the U.S. population consists of people of color — but children’s books have not kept pace.

It also boils down to whose books are actually being published.

According to its website, VIDA is a research-driven organization with a goal to increase critical attention to contemporary women’s writing and further the transparency around gender equality issues in contemporary literary culture.

Each year, women from across the country dedicate thousands of combined hours to manually tally the gender disparity in major literary publications and book reviews.

From the New York Times to the London Review of Books, data shows women are disproportionately underrepresented when it comes to contemporary book sales.

As upsetting as it is, this definitely does not deter me from my dream of writing books.

I want to write a book that might inspire young children to better themselves because books, in a strange way, saved my life.

I have a blank canvas that needs to be filled.

By blank canvas, I mean my life.

I partly filled it with magic and teenage drama instead of gangs.

Neil Gaiman, another one of my favorite authors, once said, “People think dreams aren’t real just because they aren’t made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes.”

His quote summarizes what it means to be a writer.

Writers have ideas roaming in their heads all the time.

I remember being 7 and thinking it was weird I wanted to write about these characters I imagined.

I thought it was weird at first, but the older I got, the more I realized I was born to be a writer.

Writing is in my blood and has always come naturally to me.

Writing books has always been a dream of mine and I will make it a reality.

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