This week we’re celebrating the graduation of our Junior Memory Collectors.  Below you’ll find some of their  work and their reflections on the program.

Memory Collector: MICHELLE JOHNSON

IN HER OWN WORDS:

Knowing that today was my last day working at the Spaces Between Your Fingers Project, I have to describe today as bittersweet. Discontinuing something that you loved doing is always sad but you’ll always carry the memories you’ve made and lessons you’ve learned with you. My time here is different from anything I’ve ever experienced. I came expecting to perfect my craft but I gained an immense amount of social experience as well.

As a poet, I’ve always found it hard to put a narrative together. My poetry had components that my narratives were lacking. That’s what made me apprehensive about taking the job at first. I was afraid that my inadequacy would get in the way of doing the job. But before I even began my first day of work, I already recognized how working with the Spaces Between Your Fingers project would benefit me. The only way to get better at something is to practice. As an English major, I am forced to write a variety of works. I’ve gained experience in the fields of analytical, persuasive and exploratory writing and that’s great but there’s sometimes very little room for creativity. I thought I’d solve this by taking a creative writing class but I was given the option to work with narrative, as well as poetry. Of course, I chose to work with poetry as that is my strong suit. For the first time I had no option but to expand my knowledge in narrative writing.

From day one I learned what makes a story great. Having an enticing plot is a big part of it but the story won’t capture your reader unless you build on that plot. When I say this, I mean creating a scene for the reader, making them feel like they’re a part of your character’s world. You do this by supplying details. If you say something like “Jenny wore jeans”, that’s a lot different from saying “Jenny wore jeans that matched the blue of the night sky”. It shows the reader the exact color of Jenny’s jeans. I also learned to show instead of tell a story. Instead of saying “her son had big, blue eyes”, I might say “her son had the ocean between his eye lashes”. I’m a much better writer than I was six months ago, no question.

Each person that I interviewed with touched me in some way; whether they changed my perspective on something, made me more grateful for what I have or inspired me. I have to admit that some nights I was left thinking about someone I had met for hours and felt so much sadness in my heart for them. I never knew that I could have so much compassion for strangers. I learned not to be so quick to judge. Everyone has a story that you’ll never get from just looking at the cover or reading the title. You have to turn the pages. These are experiences I never would have gotten from sitting in an office Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm. I’m so grateful for my experience at the Spaces Between Your Fingers project.

-Michelle

SOME OF HER WORK:

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