Books, Movies, and Music, Oh My!

{This post written by Madison Ward, Intern}

Madison, at work with her Genesis staff. 

Madison, at work with her Genesis staff. 

As a young child, I hated reading. Hated it. I would do as little as I could, try just enough to get through a lesson and thank God when it was over. Going to Mrs. Pianowski for reading assistance as a kid with the only two other challenged kids and “never getting around” to taking my SRI [Scholastic Reading Inventory] tests in Mrs. Yeakey’s class, was the norm. In fact, as crazy as it is to think about today, at that time in my life I was a grade-A math student. Math!

Six grade was the year when things started to change. Christmas came around and I got an internet tablet. How old it seems now, but when I had it, it was brand-new. Of course I could play games and watch YouTube videos, but as entertaining as that was, I couldn’t help but be jealous of how much my sister Kennedy was getting out of hers. She was downloading book after book and sitting around just staring at her screen, faintly smiling and stifling laughter. I remember back to when my Mom used to read like that all the time when we were younger. She would sit on the couch in the living room, on the other side of the room, away from where we were watching tv, and she would just laugh and laugh.

I thought, “Well. I might as well try one of Kennedy’s, since we all share the same account and the books were in my library as well.”

And it was… great. And I mean really great! As in, I didn’t really know what the word “great” meant before. I could go cheesier and say it was “life-changing”, it was “real”, it was the “more” I didn’t know I was searching for. Who knew? Who knew that characters could be so charming, that plots could be so caustic, that lines could punch me in my gut and knock me down with it? I definitely didn’t know!

I had seen many, many movies. But books felt different. Partly, because at that age it wasn’t as though I had an opportunity to try out a lot of different films to find what I liked or what “felt” better, but the book… it was me. It brought me in and pulled me close in a way that I had never felt reading the books I had been assigned at school. Since it was not forced upon me, since it was my choice to read that book, it was vastly better. I didn’t feel the bitter resentment that usually accompanied reading. It was also the genre, though. I had no clue that there were books out there like that. “Hamlet” and “Where the Red Fern Grows” did little to nothing for me. I craved fiction and fantasy and nontraditional, non-educational, entertaining books. I kept reading. I read and I read and I read and I believe in what Stephen King says: "If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

This out-of-class, out-of-context reading opened up English and writing to my life. My passion carried over into the humble awareness that is the English language and the real meaning of words. I did much, much better with this in middle school and that carried over to high school. Journalism class was a class I was hesitant about taking. I thought the news was boring and I didn’t want to just be writing statistics and displaying factual information in a slightly different way than someone else. But I found that it wasn’t boring, after all.

Of course it wasn’t exactly titillating, but afterward it was as if I had a higher respect for the way people wrote. I paid attention to things I never had before, like the structure and the syntax of the lines. The development of each individual piece was unique in that everyone was a little bit different and each had a special character to it, like a written snowflake. Since I had a lot of respect for the teacher, Mr. Efsits, and enormously enjoyed his class, I decided to take his Creative Writing course as well. We dug deeper in the understanding of syntax. We became aware of the flow of it, the development in the sense that it had movement, that it moved in rhythm with the structure in that funny way books and movies make you feel more than just the one-liners. It built and it soared; without those two classes, I do not think I would be in the same place that I am right now. After that class, my name was automatically submitted to the staff of the school magazine, GENESIS, because I had taken Journalism, which guaranteed me at least an interview. I also was really interested in joining myself and felt pushed to become a part of what I was gradually realizing was my future.

Madison with her co-editor-in-chief Morgan Gonsoski. 

Madison with her co-editor-in-chief Morgan Gonsoski. 

Since then, my media and entertainment field of interest has only grown and my idea of what I will choose for a career has become less and less narrow. I am now inclined more towards technology and e-books more because that was my first positive experience with reading material that I enjoyed. When I read from paperback books, I just feel like I’m reading a torturously boring school book, and I did not have the best experiences with those. But that old internet tablet led me to love books, which led me to love writing, to reviewing, to computer designing, to film, and, also, to soundtracking and music. As I said, my field of interest is pretty broad. I am lucky to have so many choices and found so many loves this early in life, and I am so very lucky that I have such a supportive family and have had phenomenal high school teachers. They have all helped me develop my interest and helped steer my motivation to where I am now and where I expect to be 10, 15, 30, 50 years from now. 

Now what the heck am I going to do about it?!





Kristin Shaw