Filling the page


Lucia Rivera

Every article begins with a blank “untitled document”. Writing regular columns can help one learn how to express themselves better by filling that blank page.

“Lucia column #16”

I typed out the new folder’s name within my Google Drive. 

Then, the blank page sat before me, compelling my brain to churn out some insightful, marvelous message for the world to read. It just had to come to me—my fingers would do the rest. 

Though, when writing my biweekly columns, the message doesn’t always “come to me.” On the good weeks, snippets of sentences and catchy phrases easily materialize, building up in my mind until I finally sit down to write. If it’s before bed, in the shower or on my walks, my ideas flow and patiently wait to be expressed on a page. 

On bad weeks, the inspiration escapes me. I think through all my wise realizations and moving experiences of the past two weeks… and come up dry. Will people want to read what I have to say? Will my ideas really influence others? Doubts and frustrations are easy to come by as I sit and ponder. 

But maybe the “bad” weeks aren’t all that bad. It’s not easy to compartmentalize your thoughts in a normal time—and even less so a year into the pandemic. Writing these columns, however, forces me to. 

I’m relaying my own thoughts and emotions with the hopes that they might be appreciated by my anonymous viewers. ”

— Lucia Rivera

I have found a strange art in balancing the emotions, takeaways and description that make up these pieces. A column needs enough of them to draw the reader in, but not too much that it misses the connection to their own life.

This long-term assignment has brought me to see the world in a different way. I feel sparks of inspiration as I visit family members, read my books and attend my online classes—in almost anything I do.

Since my freshman year I have learned to see the world through the eyes of a student journalist. I used to stop along the halls to collect information, taking notes and screenshots throughout the day. But these columns have offered me something different. 

I have had to look inward to find the subjects for each one. 

I’m not reporting on a certain news story or covering a specific phenomenon that appeared among the student body. I’m relaying my own thoughts and emotions with the hopes that they might be appreciated by my anonymous viewers. 

As a relatively private person, this has probably been the most challenging part. I think endlessly about most parts of my day, but if you asked me to do all that thinking aloud, we’d have an issue. Yet learning how to package my thoughts for others in a comfortable way is a skill I will appreciate for the rest of my life. 

Even when the columns stop as the end of the year rolls around, I’ll look back fondly at the challenge and growth this task gave me, along with the thousands of words I’ve crafted.