Lonely kids make the best creatives, I hear. We play with dolls and direct the drama of their complex inner lives; we talk to ourselves; we read and read and read and read.
I grew up, homeschooled, in a tiny town in Illinois, current population 1,977. My whole world could have fit inside a thimble. By the time I turned 15, I had read 362 books. I jotted notes for stories down in the margins, half-cast scenes in the spaces between chapters.
I was lucky: my world didn’t stay small forever. A few years and a move to Florida later, I was applying to colleges, an impending major in writing or linguistics ahead of me, and found out I was accepted to a program that would have me move to Europe for a year. Specifically, Italy. My grandma called my mom four times in the span of two days to tell her that “She does know that they speak a different language there, doesn’t she?” and “How is she going to get there, is she going to fly by herself?”
I, despite my grandmothers expectations, made it there alive and continue to be alive to this day.
What living in another culture taught me is how expansive the world is. Writing, for me, has always been about expression. We write and read in the languages we have grown up in, that wrap cozily around us like blankets. But expression changes when it’s filtered through other mediums, through the half-garbled words of a language you’ve only just started piecing together, or through the stories of someone who has lived a life totally opposite to your own. We take for granted our perspective, our insular reality. But there’s a whole world out there.
I moved back to the states for the last three years of my degree at Florida State University. I took as many unique literature classes and writing workshops as I could cram in my schedule. I developed a passion for Post-Colonial literature and other genres that tell the stories of historically underrepresented groups. I was diagnosed with the type of illness I would never recover from. Despite that, I kept living. I graduated with a degree in creative writing, triumphant and exhausted.
In the year since, I have had so much opportunity to grow. I pursued my passion for books and publishing by serving as the Fiction Intern for the Southeast Review, which allowed me to channel the hard-won literary skills I gained in school into something tangible. I taught Argentine Tango for a scientific study focussing on tango’s effects on patients with Parkinson’s disease, and got to see the continual progress of each patient who, the day before, had said that they could never do that impossible thing. I’ve worked as a Social Media Manager for a tattoo shop, and trained others on my team in new skills that even a few months ago, I thought were impossible.
All of that has, gloriously, lead me here. It has been a year of never-ending expansion, and I am so grateful that I will have the ability to bring that growth as well as my passion for words to Sundress Publications.
Nicole Drake is a graduate of Florida State University with a BA in Creative Writing. She has served as a reader for the Southeast Review and the Seven Hills Review, and currently works as the Social Media Manager for Capital City Tattoo’z. She teaches dance and works her way through her endless “To Read” list in her spare time.