Letter from the Mint editor: A budding writer

Learn the Mint editor’s evolution from 5-year-old to 21-year-old editor

JENNIFER LADWIG, Evergreen mint editor

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Mint is featuring a local author this week, and it has me thinking a lot about my writing abilities. So, I thought I’d tell the tale of the rough history my passion has experienced.

Once upon a time, your favorite Mint editor was born. She was a happy baby. At least I think, I don’t really remember. Fast forward a few years, to a young girl in kindergarten. Somehow, some way, this kindergartener developed an affinity for editing early on.

I am not sure what possessed me to do this, but as a kindergartener, I saw my older sister’s second grade writing covered in corrections. So, I was inspired to make her papers bleed, too. I would set up my cute little chalk board easel, and I would give my sister a writing prompt — probably something about horses or cats.

She would write in her shaky young handwriting a page about her cat, Midnight, or her favorite toy horse. Then I would go through and mark it with one of my mom’s red pens. And the most adorable part? I know I couldn’t read a thing she wrote, I was just making marks that I thought looked cool. Then, I would give it back to her and tell her to make my unintelligible and meaningless edits.

Fast forward a few more years: I was in fourth grade, and my class was paired with a second grade class to work with them on their writing skills. Again, little Jen’s inner editor came out and I was ruthless. My second grader was the best damn writer in her class after I was done with her.

In fifth grade, I decided to put my writing skills to the test. I wrote a small portion of a story for my teacher, thinking it was the greatest thing ever created. It was about a girl who was really good at singing, and a bully saying her lyrics were shit because they didn’t rhyme (of course, I didn’t use shit, I didn’t know that was even a word yet). My teacher wasn’t as impressed with my masterpiece as I was, but I still told myself I was amazing.

In seventh grade, we got to make a magazine. My magazine was about “Twilight,” because all middle school girls were in the Edward versus Jacob haze. Little did I know, I would become an editor, getting to do page design and put together content on a daily basis, just like I did so many years ago with that magazine project.

Next is eighth grade, where I tried to write another story. This one was a love story, the kind where the cool guy falls for the awkward girl, naturally. I made a chart of all my characters and their defining features, and I wrote the first chapter. That’s it. I went back and read it again a few years ago, and let me tell you, it sucked.

Then came junior year of high school. We had to write a short piece describing a local hotspot using colloquial language. I wrote it out, read through it, felt great about it, then I heard it read out loud. In front of the whole class. It was awful, it was the worst thing I’ve ever heard. Ever. I was mortified. That’s when I realized I was not meant for creative writing.

So I came to WSU with the plan to never write creative things again — I would stick to research papers as I pursued my history degree. But after joining The Daily Evergreen, I discovered that I was pretty good at journalistic writing; the cut-and-dry, here-are-the-facts kind of writing. I switched to a journalism major, and the rest is history.

Looking back at my young dabbling in editing and writing, I can see that this is what I was meant to do the whole time. But who knows, maybe now that I’m not 10, 12 or 16, I could finally write a decent fiction story. Maybe I’d rock at biographies. Or maybe I should just stick to the red pen. Or maybe, I should take up underwater basket weaving.

Jennifer Ladwig is a senior multimedia journalism major from Washougal. She can be contacted at [email protected]