—Shannon Martin is a senior English Language Arts and Literature Major at SUNY Plattsburgh. She is graduating this may and will be going to graduate school at Columbia University. She writes both fiction and nonfiction. She hopes to instill the love of writing and reading in her future students.
Do you remember the genre of the first piece you’ve created? What was it?
I don’t remember the first piece because I started writing when I was really little. I think that I got into fiction writing, especially when I was young. I only recently got into nonfiction because of a course I took here at SUNY Plattsburgh. I do remember years and years ago in middle school writing a short story for a professor about a story that we read–it was kind of like a fan fiction, but it ended up being 10-15 pages long. She told me I had to stop typing and just turn it in because we were writing it during class and I refused. I told her I would finish it at home, so that ‘s a memory I have of writing fiction, at least.
Which genre of writing do you prefer most? Which is your least favorite?
I enjoy writing fiction the most, definitely. Creative/fantasy fiction is my favorite, which isn’t what I ended up submitting to ZPlatt and getting accepted. And that was actually my first dabbling into nonfiction ever–was this piece. I had an amazing experience in Japan for a whole summer and I was like, “oh! This would be something interesting to write about. I’ve never written about something so personal, why don’t I try this instead of just essays?” I definitely enjoy writing fiction, I think that writing nonfiction is something I just started getting into. My least favorite, though I can respect it, is poetry. Only because I am one of those people who like to know the rules of something before I can break them. I understand the rules of fiction and nonfiction well, but when it comes to poetry there are too many rules that I am still unaware of. I feel like I’m not comfortable enough to try and break them in that genre just yet.
How long have you been writing?
I don’t know how many years, but ever since I was little it’s been something I’ve enjoyed doing. My mom has notebooks of mines that I would keep and write in for fun. I had writing buddies and started a writing club in high school, so it’s kind of been something I just have been really interested in. But I want to be a teacher, so I don’t plan on being a big published novelist after I graduate. I want to inspire others to enjoy the process of writing and how it can be reflective and something fun.
What began your writing journey?
I think, getting into reading fiction novels when I was middle school. In elementary school and into middle school, my parents were a little worried about me because I was struggling and I had difficulty in classes and they told me to try reading. And I said, ‘No I don’t want to read, I hate reading.’ Which is kind of ironic because I’m an English Major now. But they’d say “try it, try it, try it.” Then one day someone handed me an Animorphs book, and I thought, ‘Wow, this is really cool.” I finished all fifty books within those two months, because I read one of those 100 page books a day and got really into them. I said, ‘I enjoy reading and I enjoy writing, and kind of took inspiration from what I read, and wanted to do what some of my favorite authors did.’
What are your other hobbies?
I mean it’s kind of a cliche but I do love to read because I’m an English Major. I’m a ski instructor and a swim instructor, and I really enjoy learning languages. Even though I haven’t gotten very far in many languages, because I started Spanish and French in high school. I’ve gotten into Japanese and I think learning about other cultures and languages brings a wider range to your experience in life and, eventually, your writing.
What advice would you give to other aspiring writers?
I would say don’t let the world pigeon-hole you. There’s so many people that say “you can’t write this way or you can’t do this in such-and-such a way, or you can’t write in general because you need to know so much.” I would say write what you want to write and you’ll get to what you can write later in life. Just do it and don’t let someone tell you that you can’t.
Who/what inspires you?
I think the person that inspires me most in my life is my older sister because she’s a nursing major here on campus and she works really hard, and she’s dedicated. I would usually say a writer inspires me to write, but she inspires me to live viciously and dramatically, and just to kind of take things as hard and as fast as you can, and not let life pass you by. So that can involve writing, it can involve working hard in school, and just taking her outlook, her optimistic outlook on life and putting that into all aspects of my own life.
What was the last book you read for pure enjoyment?
The last book I read recently was Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. It’s a young adult novel, it’s fantasy, and it’s a sequel series to her recent three book young adult series. It’s really excellent. She used a lot of amazing character, and again, she relies on learning from other cultures, especially Russian culture to influence her books. I think that learning about other cultures is especially fun. So that’s why i really enjoy those types of books, especially recently.
What was your favorite writing class that you’ve had?
I actually haven’t taken many writing courses on campus, I’ve taken mostly teaching writing courses and literature courses. The one course I took on writing was autobiographical writing, and that’s actually the piece I ended up submitting. It was something I had never done before, and never experienced and ended up really enjoying.
What is your favorite word and why?
I could tell you my least favorite words, but I don’t know about favorite words. I don’t know, that’s a difficult question. I’ll give you the opposite answer for fun: my least favorite word is “moist,” because it’s just a bad word. I also think that it’s just used wrong. Like, my friend hates the word “aesthetic” because she thinks that it’s used wrong. I think people use the word “moist” wrong. There are very few things in the world that can be described as moist. Things can be wet, but I don’t think there are many things that are moist that often. So, let’s avoid that word.