Letters from the dorm: Aspiring novelist, lawyer or both?

Letters from the dorm: Aspiring novelist, lawyer or both?

Is it possible to reconcile a desire to be creative with a need to be precise?

Have you ever felt an itch that you really wished to scratch?

For me, this itch has always been writing. It can be traced back to my childhood, when I would sit in the back seat of a car, as my parents took me to explore more than 20 countries. Those trips, while absolutely brilliant, were exhausting – my workaholic father Frank would start driving us early in the morning; I would ask thousands of questions in the car, and sing songs from Phantom of the Opera and Sound of Music until my mother Amy cajoled me into taking a break; she’d say “for the sake of your voice”.

My 13-year-old ambition was to publish a book titled Around the Globe: Travel Writings of an Elementary School Student. I confess: I failed.

Now, at 23, as a second-year law student at Harvard, I keep dreaming. Ever since I had the pleasure of escorting Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor around Pomona College, I have dreamt of a career in the law. I also dream of writing my first book – a legal thriller-romance novel.

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At Pomona, I focused on academic writing in political science, Spanish, and freelance writing on the side. I also grew increasingly interested in law, loving every aspect of my editing work for the Claremont Journal of Law and Public Policy during college. Thanks to my Pomona-grown liberal arts spirit, I keep up with my creative side through theatre and English classes.

Last week, I met the renowned author of legal thrillers, John Grisham, and the celebrated writer Bill Bryson. As many fans know, Grisham is a lawyer by training, while Bryson is known for his travel writing. Both writers kindly answered my question: how can I reconcile my free-flowing, passionate prose with the painstakingly precise legal writing that I have embraced? Bryson quickly replied, “you can’t”. Grisham said that I need to write at least a page a day. No excuses.

Although I fear that law will stifle my creative tendencies, what it has taught me, as I stroll across sunlit Marston Quad, greeting each well-fed squirrel with a smile, is that liberal artsy individuals can have multiple dimensions. For now, I’m working on my dream of becoming a lawyer and a writer. I promise not to let my 13-year-old self down. You will be pleased to hear the liberal arts spirit in me lives on.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Finding a place for two careers

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