A Novel Accomplishment: Senior Laura Barker Becomes an Author

Staff Writer In high school, Jack Kerouac was a football star, J.D. Salinger was on yearbook, and Ernest Hemingway played in the orchestra. While I’m sure they all expressed interest in writing early on, even they can’t brag about having written a book in high school. Unlike Senior Laura Barker. As of a few weeks ago, Laura finished her first in a series of four novels, and is ready to present her rough draft to the Latin community. It centers around two teenage girls, Jenny and Alex, and their entanglement in the mystery of file 22 -a file rumored to have been destroyed years ago. Laura and one of her friends came up with the story idea freshman year, at a sleepover -setting, it seems, a new standard for sleepovers, one that’s far beyond the traditional TV and girl talk. While her friend lost interest in the project, Laura pursued the idea, and one Sunday junior year began writing her first draft. Over the next two years, Laura worked almost everyday to complete her now 153-page novel. To overcome the stress, procrastination, and self-doubt most writers experience, Laura has had to learn to motivate herself. She says, “there were multiple points when I thought ‘why am I doing this’ or ‘I’m not a good enough writer.’ But then there’s a voice in the back of my head telling me ‘no, you can do this.’” It’s a type of confidence she says the capstone element has encouraged, and something that has enriched both her novel and her personality. For her capstone -an interdisciplinary project created by a senior and his/her senior advisor- Laura met with Mr. Windus, and began discussing how she should approach drafting, editing, and publishing her novel. Together they’ve explored self-publishing options, a process that begins with finding an audience -a step Laura is in the midst of taking. Her audience is diverse, and includes many members of the Latin community. Laura’s been approached by Latin faculty, including Mr. Joyce and Mr. Lombardo, whom Laura lists as having guided her through the process. Some readers might recognize themselves amongst the characters, she says. Laura’s characters are influenced “both by my friends, and people I’ve met randomly. I’m always inspired by people who aren’t afraid to be unique” and calls these character dynamics the heart of her novel. These fictional characters have shifted the way in which she perceives reality; in aiming to give multiple dimensions to the characters in her novel, she’s begun to appreciate the complexity of others. Knowing that “part of a character is their flaws,” Laura is finding it a lot easier to understand people’s mistakes and shortcomings. Seeing as Laura has put so much of herself into the novel, its not surprising to see the ways in which the novel has returned the favor. In our interview we discussed the process of creating her novel, and how it all culminated in her announcement at gathering last week. Sharing to the school the completion of her rough draft, Laura said that it was “the best moment of my high school career.” Thrilled with the response, she’s proud of how accepting and supportive Latin is of individual goals and pursuits. She knows that if “I didn’t work on the book now, I don’t know if I’d have the energy to do it later,” and is inspired by Latin’s interest. The inspiration goes both ways, however.  As high schoolers, so much of our lives remains unwritten; Laura shows us that, no matter how young we may be, what we’ve lived so far, and the talents and interests we’ve developed, can still go towards the creation of something remarkable. On behalf of the Latin community, we’re so thrilled with your accomplishment, Laura, and can’t wait to read your work. Congratulations!]]>