ASFA-CW Senior Profile: Scarlett Connolly

Memory Lane

Scarlett’s Cadence bios through the years:

  • Scarlett Connolly enjoys doing dangerous things things that make you feel alive. (2015)
  • Frankly, my dear, Scarlett Connolly doesn’t give a damn. Jay Long fights Blanca Tallaj every single day. (2016)
  • Frankly, my dear, Scarlett Connolly doesn’t give a damn. (2017)
  • Let’s properly check goofy Scarlett Connolly’s records to see if she is Native American. I say she’s a fraud! (2018)

Seven Questions: Past, Present, Future

What is your first creative memory?

My first creative memory is being asked to write a story from the point of view of a pet fish. I ended up writing about 5 pages and my teacher was so impressed that he gave it to the principal to read. I remember trying to put myself in the mindset of a fish and at first having difficulty because I had no idea what fish thought about. Soon, I realized that no one knows what fish think about so whatever I wrote literally couldn’t be wrong. That was the first story I ever wrote. I think my mom still has a copy somewhere.

What are your Desert(ed) Island Five favorite books—you, a deserted island, just five books to read—and why?

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. This is my favorite book. The language and certain phrases throughout always make me smile and consider what Wilde is saying no matter how much I read it.

Intentional Dissonance by Iain S. Thomas. This is a close second, and actually was my favorite book for a while. The entire idea of the book is focused on this man who can make people see whatever he wants, basically. There was a war, referred to as The End, that happened a few years before hand. The End, happened because everyone saw everyone else as the enemy. Whenever I read this it always reminds me that our perceptions of others are so tied into our life experiences that it helps to just take a step back and look at someone with fresh eyes.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling. This is literally the first book that made me feel intense emotion for a character. When Sirius Black died I felt that in my soul. He was always my favorite character. Moreso though, the thing that really got to me was when Harry was running around the castle at the end hoping, praying, to find some way to see Sirius again. It reminded me of when I always tried to convince myself to be Christian in the hopes that just maybe Heaven existed and I would see my dad again.

You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie. I honestly haven’t read this book yet. Sherman Alexie is my favorite author and I’ve been meaning to. The recent news about his sexual assaults made it really difficult to read his work for a while. I’m trying to separate the art from the artist though. If we threw away every artist that did a great wrong, we’d have maybe 10 artists left to work with.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. Just so I’d always have something to (attempt to) read.

If you could trade places, Freaky Friday style, with any well-known creative person, who would it be and why?

Probably Danez Smith. He’s always been a poet I looked up to. He’s the author of my favorite poem, “Genesissy.” I’ll just listen to him perform that poem on repeat some days. I love him and what he stands for in general.

What is your favorite ASFA-CW memory?

My favorite memory is when all of the seniors were in a room alone together and we were all just talking to each other and being friends. I’m not going to name a specific time because honestly there have been so many. I’ve never felt a senior class be as together and close as this one is. I truly love all of the other CW seniors and I’m going to miss them so much.

What’s the hardest thing you had to learn to be successful at ASFA?

I had to learn how use criticism, on my writing, specifically. It’s not that I was incapable of taking it beforehand, but I didn’t know what to do with it. I had to learn that unless you edit, and edit, and edit a story or a poem then it will always be the same. When I was writing before ASFA, anyone I showed my work to always said “This is so good” or “It’s okay” but I was never told how to improve it. Being at ASFA made me appreciate criticism so much more than praise.

What advice do you have for future ASFA-CW students?

Make sure that you know where to draw the line. You’re going to get a lot of criticism throughout your career here. Don’t take all of it. In the end, it’s your work. If it’s becoming something you didn’t want it to become, then stop. Go back, remember the original idea and go from there. In learning how to use criticism, I also had to learn how to ignore what wouldn’t be good for my story. For example, someone told me that a piece I wrote that featured a gay couple was unnecessary. It didn’t need to be a gay couple, and I was just trying to be politically correct, despite the fact that it was literally about the Pulse nightclub shooting.

What are your post-ASFA plans?

For once in my life, I have an answer. A definite, concrete answer. I want to go to UAB with a double major in Creative Writing and Foreign Language. From there, I want to get my MFA and, hopefully, start teaching at ASFA. Through Outreach I realized how much I love teaching writing to people. I love being able to discuss a work with others. Honestly, I have to thank Ms. Jones for all of this. She’s provided the motivation and encouragement to work with my writing so much so that I fell in love with it. If it weren’t for her, I probably wouldn’t be planning on a career centered around writing.

An Excerpt from Cadence 2018

Atlas Holds the World

your brain contains everything
i’ve ever told you.

your meninges hold all the secrets
i whispered into your ears
in the early morning hours,
never allowing them to reach the brain.

i divided your cerebrum in two halves
when i told you that i loved you.
the right hemisphere loves me back,
but the left keeps asking me why.

your frontal lobe was molded out of clay
when i pushed into your skin as i kissed you
and you kissed me back. learning to move
your lips was never a difficult task.

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