…On Being an Armenian Writer in Southern California
By: Alissa Medina
Ever since I was a young —and vigilantly idealistic— little girl, I dreamed of becoming noticed in magazine covers, my name plastered all over it as if I were someone praised and adored. My Barbies were all superstars that attended parties for their book releases; my dolls their fans that eagerly awaited their autographs. It was as if my mind was filled to the brim with a set goal to become a writer; I had no intention of turning back – even at the ripe old age of eight.
It is now that I see myself as more than just a writer. I identify myself more as an editor, a writer-grammar enthusiast hybrid that adores anything written by someone other than herself. I have edited thousands of others works, given feedback, and often procrastinated writing my own work. Ernest Hemingway once wrote “A writer does not sit and write, he sits down at a typewriter and bleeds.” Every time I am in front of my measly – and often back-numbing-computer, I stare at the keyboard for days wondering how to configure sentences into a structure that is meaningful. Maybe a little less dramatic than bleeding, but it still rings true to the amount of emotion, sweat, and tears a finalized written piece of work may evolve into.
And in such procrastination, being an Armenian writer often implies that you are stereotyped into the vicinity of the Kardashians, praised for Cher’s comeback, and often eluded to William Saroyan. Some may even latch onto to the idea of Yerevan magazine to imply what it’s like for Armenians seeking journalism – if we are not writing for an Armenian publication, we must be writing about being Armenian, right? Wrong!
As a half-Armenian, half-European mut, I often look towards Michael Arlen’s Passage to Ararat for a little inspiration on finding my own identity through the rich culture being Armenian provides for me. Arlen (who is half-Armenian himself) claimed that by searching for his past, he will “find in the present”. I, too, consistently look towards my Armenian roots as a guide to find my inner workings. The rich substance our culture provides works as an insight to the most meaningful, and often emotional, pieces of work.
As the Editor-in-Chief and founder of the women’s online magazine Reasons to Be Beautiful, an intern at Access Hollywood, and a editor for an on-campus women’s website I find myself busy with learning to identify myself as a writer and work towards representing the Armenian writing community in the best way possible. The moments I have to talk with co-workers, I often find myself stating that I am half-Armenian, and I am (fill in any positive adjective here) because of my strong heritage.
Even stepping foot in any interviewers door, I often claim that yes, I like the Kardashians, and yes, I do love my heritage. And yes, I am eager to learn about others because of the strong cultural implications I have already discovered about myself.
Because that is what writers do, at first they will allude to their own inner creativity and then warmly welcome any spout of inspiration you may have for them; we lust over meaningful chats over coffee and resort to sharing memories with our readers, and ultimately, our listeners.