Wordsmith Eager for International Education

Lexie Reinecke, Staff Writer

Freshman Brigitte Jia began writing fiction in 4th grade. She calls Pulitzer Prize Winner Donna Tartt an inspiration, she emulates Dickens, and she’s already started writing a novel of her own.

Jia explained, “[Back in 4th grade] I loved reading books and I still do. I like reading Dickens, and that style of old English, type things, at least kind of archaic. I really like that style and I decided to try it out. I just took it from there.”

While many of her peers cringe at the idea of writing an essay, Jia loves the writing process, and squeezes it in whenever she can.

Jia said, “On school days I’m really mostly just writing essays and history notes and all of those technical things. But I say I get in like a good paragraph or two if I have free time. On the weekends I like to do a lot of editing for my works. I do write a good bit more than when I’m in school, like maybe 3 or 4 pages.”

Jia not only writes prolifically, she nurtures a work-sharing relationship with freshman Kathryn Daniel, who also crafts stories in her free time. Daniel explained, “If I like something that I wrote then I’ll show her or if I find a story that I really like I’ll show her it. It’ll be like if I don’t know what to do with an ending I’ll show it to her. I’ll tell her the plot and ask her what she thinks.”

Jia described her writing style as verbose, though she tries not to overwhelm her audience. She said, “I’m best at creating long-winded sentences. . .I try to use analogies in my writing, a lot of descriptive words, definitely, that’s the basis of all writing. I sometimes try to tone it down a little bit, to keep it simple because I feel like if I write too many adjectives it sounds like a science essay and nobody really likes to read those.”

Scott Brady-Smith, Jia’s English instructor, explained, “She’s very logical but she’s also very creative and fanciful even. I haven’t read any of her creative writing, but she finds a way to create metaphors in her [in-class] writing that are the sign of a great writer.”

Jia looks at every opportunity to use language as an opportunity to be an active author: “Even in, like, history notes you can incorporate your writing into the history notes, like rephrase it better than the textbook says it, add some adjectives in that the textbook wasn’t smart enough to use, or something like that,” she said.

Jia believe her passion for manipulating words to craft unique ideas has had a positive impact on her academics.  “It’s definitely helped me academically. Reading comprehension, it really gets you into that. The proper usage of grammar, also, you really need that in writing and it helps with the English classes that you take,” she said.

While she primarily writes fiction, Jia said she’s “dabbled a bit in everything.” She explained, “I’ve tried to start books, that type of thing, I’ve done books, I’ve done poetry, I’ve done short stories. I’ve dabbled in long prose, so I’ve kind of experimented with stuff.”

Jia also writes fanfiction, which is an online form of literature. This part of her work is what she, primarily, shares with Daniel. Jia explained, “We’re both involved in the fan-fiction community so we do like to share our works with each other and when we have a mutual interest in one character or several characters we do exchange works.”

Daniel said, “Fanfiction is when you take something, it could be a book, a movie, a band, really anything, and you create a plot line using the same characters that are in them. You can create things with it. It’s just kind of taking an original story or plot and making more out of it.”

Of her efforts to create new stories from previously published work, Jia said, “I’m always happy when people notice my works and comment like ‘congrats, this is so great.’ That’s always a great feeling.”

Jia explained that concrete poems are a great way for her to combine two of her interests into one project: Visual art and literature.

“I really like also those poems where you create a picture with the poem. I really like that because I’m also into art. I kind of like, combine the two, and I like that,” Jia said.

While writing brings her joy, Jia admits that it can also be challenging to find motivation to put in the time. “It’s hard to get on your feet then go and actually write something. I have a lot of great ideas that I’ll build upon in my head but then I’ll be like, well, I don’t really want to write the exposition and it’s a good plot, but then I think of something else and it’s like ‘hmmm, maybe I should start building on this instead.’ It’s really hard to get the work off the ground,” she said.

Editing is the most difficult part of the process for Jia. She said, “It’s when you’ve finished a work and you’re staring at that work and you think ‘hmm, something’s off’ or it doesn’t have that one quality that you want it to have. You’re looking at it because you’ve read it, you’ve proofread it like fifty times and it’s staring back at you.”

Jia hopes that writing will play a key role in her adult life. She plans on attending a prestigious college with a program that will improve her composition skills.

Of her long-term academic plan, Jia said, “Definitely a lot of the schools in Great Britain. I want to get into college in the United States and then transfer out. I’m looking at Cambridge, Cambridge and Oxford, all the big name schools. . . They really have good writing departments which is why they’re so famous, right? I wanna try and set my goals high to get over there.”

Jia’s writing companion thinks she has the linguistic chops to accomplish her goals. “She has high plans. If she stays with how she’s going right now, yeah [she’ll be able to deliver on them],” Daniel said.

“Oh, she’s the hardest worker I’ve ever known. She’s extremely perseverant, like, if she doesn’t understand something, she’s going to understand it whether or not that requires her to stay up all night. She’ll do that,” Daniel explained.

Brady-Smith agreed: “Brigitte’s a great student who sees through to the heart of things, very thoughtful, incredibly insightful, and she has a great sense of humor which I appreciate in class. I’m sure she could handle it. She would do fine in any environment and Cambridge would fit her.”

“The ultimate goal, I feel like every writer’s ultimate goal is to get published. I really do want to get published but if I can get my works out there and have people read them, then I’m happy,” Jia said.