Nurturing Your Passion for Creativity

It's a delight for me to support a young person's aspirations. Here’s what Tracy Tanoff shares about how she discovered her passion for reading and writing, leading to her choice of English and Journalism classes at college and hence her current internship at ROOTS & WINGS:

"When I was a kid, around five or six, my biggest dream was to be a veterinarian—everyone always observed that I was good with animals; I loved animals as much as they seemed to love me. More than that, I was interested in healing those who were hurt. I was strongly affected by negative emotions and any sort of discord, and while I shied away from the idea of healing people, I wanted very much to help animals, who’d brought me plenty of joy and amusement during my childhood.

As I grew older, I found that I wasn’t as cut out for veterinary training as I’d once imagined—I wasn’t very good at science and math, foundations any doctor would need, but fortunately, I did have another strong suit. Another childhood passion of mine was reading and, after fourth grade, writing. As a young girl, I was enthusiastic about and absorbed by fantasy and science fiction stories. I soon began writing some of my own, modeled after the books I loved most, by authors like Bruce Coville and Mary Stanton, and such epic series as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. I was encouraged by the fourth grade teacher who first told me my writing had a real “voice,” and my supportive mother and stepfather.

When I reached my last year of middle school and entered high school, I discovered that my love of language also opened up another door for me—like my mother, I was a good editor. Peer-editing my classmates’ papers in a college-level English class, and being commended by my teacher for the help I was giving students who needed it, I decided on my future career path. I knew as early as eleventh grade that I wanted to be an English major, and my determination certainly surprised adults who were used to students who were undecided!

At SUNY New Paltz, I learned to extend my range as a writer and an editor; I took Journalism classes in addition to my English classes, and my minor in Journalism requires an internship in a communications field, such as publishing. I knew I wanted a position that would help me grow as a writer and an editor, as well as one with a specific geographical component: I wanted to stay local. New Paltz, as a community, has always welcomed me and made me feel safe; I feel much more grounded here than I would have in New York City or on unfamiliar parts of Long Island, my home.

Puja’s listing in the job fair catalogue called my name right away—not only was it in the New Paltz area, it was seeking someone with the skills I had and wanted to hone. It seemed like a dream, but I was still nervous; I’d been disappointed by seeming “dream jobs” before, overlooked in favor of other candidates. I tried to pour my nervousness into something other than needless stress: the hunt for the right black pants to wear to the fair, the right résumé paper to print my qualifications on.

The day of the job fair wasn’t nearly as stress-free as I’d been hoping—the humidity was awful and I lugged my six-pound Shakespeare anthology to class only to find out my professor had unexpectedly cancelled. By the time I got to the job fair, I was hot, upset, and slightly panicked, and I was sure that whatever chances I’d had at being hired had surely slipped down the drain!

I remember being so relieved after my interview—I liked Puja and she seemed to like me, and even the unfamiliar subject area I’d be working in didn’t seem quite so daunting after our talk. I waited nervously to hear whether I’d gotten the position or not, and was relieved and excited when I opened my inbox one Saturday morning to an email from Puja informing me that I’d be working at Roots & Wings along with another intern.

Since January, I’ve been greatly enjoying my work at Roots & Wings. I’ve been opened to so many new experiences—I’ve been editing manuscripts and seeing how layouts are formatted (and reformatted), and learning about how to write book proposals. I’ve even found that working with writing on health and well-being resonates with why I wanted to be a vet as a child—it’s all about cutting down on pain and negativity. The idea of “roots and wings” even applies to why I wanted this internship in the first place: I wanted to allow my New Paltz roots to flourish, and the knowledge and connections I gain here will hopefully allow me to spread my wings and take off into the professional world!"