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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Growing up as an avid reader, the one singular bookshelf in my room was filled with stories of magical beings, demigods, dystopian worlds, the occasional Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and teenage drama. More often than not, I fell in love with the adventurous and witty characters and dreamt of leading a life just like them. 

Soon after, came a time in my life when I ventured into the world of creative writing, and I started to create the type of stories I consumed daily. From my middle school years up to my second year of high school, I experienced no hiccups writing about people with blonde hair and blue eyes who lived in two-story brick houses and spent their summer days away at camp or in their aunt’s house by the beach. 

In the middle of my third year of high school, I experienced a type of writer’s block I had never felt before. It was more than staring at a blank screen for a couple of hours, more than not knowing how to craft the perfect ending. Instead of loving the characters on my screen, the personas I meticulously thought out, I resented them. My rancor came from unfamiliarity with my characters and failing to see the life I was living represented in my favorite books and my own stories. 

The inability to form connections with my characters ultimately impacted my writing, and by the end of my senior year, I had stopped writing fiction altogether. Instead, I turned to nonfiction writing, not only about me but the community around me and the people I grew up with. 

That is until my first year of college when I decided to pursue a creative writing emphasis as part of my English major. I faced the same writer’s block. I no longer wanted to write about blonde, blue-eyed girls that lived in the suburbs of Massachusetts that worked as camp counselors and could afford wild weekend adventures in NYC. That was not me or the people my childhood was surrounded by. 

I grew up in a Californian neighborhood with no sidewalks, where we could not afford to water our lawn every day, much less a trip to the East Coast. In school, instead of locker checks, we had drug checks where the police had the authorization to interrupt class and check bags for drugs. 

As part of the Latinx community, I wanted to write about the lives of people like me, about my city, and my community. Not only about the struggles, but the positive too. I wanted to see my traditions and names that sounded just like mine on pages. 

I have begun to write fiction again freely without that mental block. Now I write about what I know and what I want to see. I write for myself, my community, and all those impressionable young readers that search for themselves in the pages they love.

Maria Martinez Castro is a third-year at UC Davis majoring in English with a minor in Professional Writing. She enjoys going on road trips with friends, reading, writing, roller skating, and dancing in her free time. Maria hopes to pursue a career in journalism after graduation and create meaningful change in the field of social justice with her writing.
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