By Randy Jurado Ertll
Becoming a writer is a journey of a lifetime. It may start in kindergarten or at time of retirement from the labor market. For me, it began in middle school when I was assigned to write an “essay.” I was intrigued by that word. The Free Online Dictionary states that the word essay means: “A short literary composition on a single subject, usually presenting the personal view of the author.”
Through the years, I also learned that writing is an artistic way of expression. We cannot allow our teachers or others to discourage or put us down if they do not like our style of writing or even the message within what is written.
Sometimes insensitive teachers may feel that an English Language Learner may not be able to write outstanding essays to be accepted into a top notch university. They misjudge the writing abilities of many students who recently arrived from other countries, such as El Salvador.
Not much literature has been written about the Salvadoran community by Salvadoran American writers. Partly, it is due to the reason that the bulk of the Salvadoran immigration into the United States occurred in the 1980s and 1990s. The new generation of U.S. born Salvadorans (Salvadoran Americans) is fairly young.
Through my writing, I want to share with Latino and non Latino students that they can express their thoughts through the written word and that they can include respectful and constructive ideas that will help to improve our society. But even more powerful is the substance and content of what one writes about. Writing should make others think, create discussions, and help others see different points of views.
Writers have many responsibilities – one is to exercise their First Amendment rights. They must have an urge to express themselves and inform the world about what is happening in their home town or country. Even if certain writers critique their own government, this does not mean that they are unpatriotic. It means that they are exercising their right as people who spread ideas and provoke discussions of issues that are rarely discussed in mainstream media outlets -- that may have a left- or right-wing bias.
Therefore, writers who believe in the integrity of spreading news, now have the opportunity to express themselves through blogs – such as this one. Writers are in fact becoming citizen journalists. Some aspiring writers can become well known through a Web site or blogs that are distributed worldwide through the Internet.
Due to the increased access of Internet, being a writer is no longer a dream or an illusion even for kids who come from poor neighborhoods. Some of these children are going to their local public library or community organization to e-mail, go on Face book, MySpace, Twitter, and many are even blogging.
Some kids are learning to design their own Web blogs where they can post or express themselves on any issues related to their families, school, and community. They can write and promote their own stories -- on a first hand basis.
I tell students to write from their heart, soul, and mind. To express themselves in an authentic manner. To not let anyone shatter their dreams of becoming excellent writers.
Keep writing. Write that opinion piece, write that poem, write that essay, even write a book for that matter. Along those similar lines, that is what President Obama advised our youth in his recently nationally televised message to students. He wants all students to believe in themselves and to become productive citizens of our society by obtaining a quality education.
Becoming a writer is a lifelong journey. You need heart and courage to be a writer, therefore write con ganas de vivir (with a zest for life) and be ready to roll with the punches. Don't let anyone discourage you. Believe in yourself.
Randy Jurado Ertll is executive director of El Centro de Accion Social in Pasadena, CA. He is the author of Hope In Times of Darkness: A Salvadoran American Experience forthcoming September 28th, 2009 (Hamilton Books).
Randy Jurado Ertll's Fall Schedule at a Glance
- Book talk and signing at Central American Resource Center/ CARECEN – 2845 W. 7th St. Los Angeles, CA 90005 on Wednesday September 30, 2009--6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
- Book talk and signing at Barnes & Noble Glendale at the Americana– 210 Americana Way Glendale, CA, 91210 on Thursday, October 1, 2009--7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
- Book talk and signing at Instituto Cultural Mexicano/Placita Olvera (next to Mexican Consulate) - 125 Paseo De La Plaza # 500, Los Angeles, CA 90012-2932 on Thursday, October 8, 2009--6:00 p.m to 8:00 p.m.
- Book talk and signing at Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable at Lucy Florence Coffee House 3351 43rd St. in Leimert Park, CA, Saturday, October 17,2009--10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
- Book talk and signing at Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural – 13197 –A Gladstone Ave. Sylmar, CA 91342 on Saturday, November 7, 2009 at 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
- Book talk and signing at VROMANS Pasadena bookstore - 695 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91101 on Thursday, November 12, 2009–-7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.