By Eli Ryder
Having a venue such as this generates a few privileges, one of them being the opportunity to showcase student writers early in their careers. These next two blog entries feature student writers from College of the Canyons, a community college whose literary culture is vibrant and engaging. Their annual literary magazine, cul-de-sac, celebrated the release of its eleventh volume on May 24th.
We asked the cul-de-sac team to select two writers to represent the magazine for us. Today, I’d like to introduce Melissa Demirel. I asked her to tell us about herself, her influences, the story we’re featuring, and her aspirations:
This is my second year and last semester at College of the Canyons, and I will be graduating with four Associate’s Degrees: English, Psychology, Sociology, and Liberal Arts & Sciences with an emphasis in Social Sciences. I will be transferring to CSUN in the fall and plan on double majoring in Psychology and English. I hope to one day work on neurological research while publishing fiction on the side. During my free time, I like drawing, oil painting, composing music on the piano, writing fiction and poetry, and reading as well as watching psychological thrillers.
I absolutely love works of psychological horror. I don’t have any favorite authors, though. I read works by all kinds of varying authors in order to keep my reading diverse and complex. I believe this is one way authors can expand their minds and be inspired by all styles of writing. I plan on reading the works of Thomas Harris, Gillian Flynn, and most if not all of Stephen King’s brilliant stories in the future. I am mostly inspired by instrumental music when I write, scores of music that bring to mind different, twisted scenes I could write up.
With this piece, I wanted to take the themes of sexual as well as domestic abuse and alcoholism, and explore them a little further. I have always been in love with the creation of something controversial: Does killing the husband at the end make the wife irrational, or does it make her courageous? Does it make her the story’s hero, or perhaps an anti-hero? Is she setting an example for her child to stand up for oneself, or is she creating an even worse situation for herself as a murderer than as a victim? She may have saved herself and her child from further abuse and, quite possibly, even being killed, but what will happen next, regarding the possibility of being found out, brought to court, etc.? The ending leaves the entire story very much left open to discussion. The first character I created was the alcoholic, abusive husband, as he was the easiest for me to create, and the second was the wife, with whom I relate in regards to thinking, eventually, that enough is enough. You see so many people who keep giving their significant others chances because they are optimistic, hopeful, and trust that their loved one will change or become a better person, and I have unfortunately been in such situations before. I am definitely an optimist, and my rose-colored glasses are always on; while this isn’t a bad thing, it does mean that I have given my poor choices of significant others chances they haven’t earned or deserved. I wanted to take this concept and exaggerate it a little, thereby transforming it into something else entirely. I also wanted to take the idea of “opposites attract” and prove how unrealistic it is when viewing actual long-term relationships: it is implied that the wife is internally positive and constantly believes there will come a day when her husband will change for the better, while the husband immediately turns to alcoholism and abuse as he sees no hope after being fired from work. Their characters have always been very different, though it isn’t proven until the timeline taking place in the story, ultimately leading to the story’s ending.
I hope to someday open up a gallery or two of my oil paintings, and to become a published writer. I always start but never quite finish a piece of work, so the goal is to at least finish the novel and poetry book I am currently working on so that they can hopefully be published and found in bookstores.