Up until high school I never considered myself to be much of a writer, in fact it was one of my least favorite subjects. I dreaded having to write the basic five paragraph essay that included an introduction, body, and conclusion. After following this idealized style of writing for much of my formative years I grew to think of it as being quite monotonous. I felt that the essays I had written during this time to be lacking passion as I was writing them with the sole purpose of acquiring a reasonable grade. It wasn’t until I started taking classes as part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program in high school that I really started to find my voice in my writing. My writing also became heavily influenced by my cultural traditions and the genre of Magical Realism. It was then when I discovered that writing didn’t have to adhere to a strict layout, but could roam freely and could discuss themes other than commentaries.
I was first introduced to magical realism my sophomore year of high school both in my english class and in my AP Spanish Literature class. The first time I read “Un señor muy viejo con unas alas enormes” by Gabriel García Márquez I was hooked. I realized that writing could be interesting and could be so much more than writing commentaries and rhetorical precis. Once I researched more about the genre itself, I found that it is closely intertwined with Latin American folklore. I grew up in a Mexican-American household where we were taught stories of La Llorona, El Chupacabra, and El Cucuy, so the idea of integrating these whimsical stories into my writing was intriguing to me. At this point in my journey as a writer, I was not yet experimenting with my craft out of fear that my creativity would lead to low marks on assignments, however I continued to read and discover all there is to know about this fascinating genre of writing.
It wasn’t until my junior year of high school where I really started to experiment with my writing assignments. The one assignment that defined me as a writer was given to me by my IB English teacher Mr.Good. Mr. Good was actually a UCSC alumni himself and drew a lot of his teaching style from the writing classes and core courses taught at our university. The assignment in question was taking the lyrics from a song of our choice and turning it into a story, a commentary, or a piece of prose. I of course went straight for the story, it sounded interesting to me, as I often picture a story in my head when listening to songs. When it came to choosing a song I was stuck between two songs; “The House of the Writing Sun” by the Animals and “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones. As you can see, I am a bit of a classic rock fan. I chose to go with “Sympathy for the Devil” because I thought I could incorporate portions of Magical Realism with the storyline for the song. I ended up writing a short story about a man who worked at a panaderia in a town that was experiencing a string of tragic events and being a small religious town they blame it on the devil. They assumed that the devil was an outsider in the town or maybe even a traveler just passing by, however when a young girl accidentally walked in on the owner of the panaderia turning into the devil, she revealed his sacred to everyone leading to his exile from the town. The girl held compassion towards the king of evil, though all others feared him, I found their relationship to be quite complex, but at the same time extremely disturbing. I received an “A” on this essay and received several scholarships for my short story. I realized then that it was okay to let my creativity wander in my writing and it makes for a more impactful paper.
I began to become interested with the idea of Dracula after watching a show called Penny Dreadful on Netflix. I thought it was so interesting how mystical creatures were perfectly embedded in the story line of seemingly normal characters. The way in which they were presented allowed me to see these usually scary or unsettling creatures to appear human in their mannerisms. I especially liked the way in which Dorian Gray was depicted, as it was never revealed that there was anything abnormal about him until the show’s last season. I also found it interesting how Dracula worked as a curator in a zoo, fitting given his obsession with the night creatures. The seamless blend of the supernatural with the normalcy of the setting and characters reminded me of the way in which literature of the magical realism genre blurs the line between what is perceived as reality. I hope to gain a better understanding of gothic style literature and aspire that my writing style and the paragraph structuring will be influenced by the literature at hand. I love the use of dramatic irony in this genre and hope to use more of it in my own works. I chose this class to challenge myself in working with gothic fiction literature to be able to expand my understanding or realism and creativity as a writer.