Tayler Grossman is an FAU student and writer who won VF3F’s first Valentine’s Day contest this past February. This week, Voices From the 3rd Floor had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Grossman and finding out more about her as a writer, student, and avid fan of poetry and literature. Ms. Grossman also discusses her plans for her future and the start of a new blog where she hopes to further showcase her writing talents.
Q: How long have you been writing?
I have been writing poetry since the sixth grade. I’ve always been good with words and writing any type of paper, but it wasn’t until a couple of years into college that I played with ideas of other types of writing, such as putting together ideas for fiction and nonfiction books I want to write and starting a blog.
Q: What made you want to major in English (at FAU)?
Like many students, I’ve cycled through a few different majors, and for a slew of different reasons. I participated in a study abroad program in Berlin during summer of 2014, and that trip really changed my perspective on life and how I wanted to live it.
Everything in Berlin was so intriguing, mysterious, and beautiful. All of the people there were constantly out doing something or interacting in ways that seemed so different than here in the US – nobody was ever stuck inside watching TV and everyone seemed to be out seeing the world and being a part of their city.
That fall semester I realized I didn’t want to spend the time or money on eventually going to grad school for psychology. I realized that I wanted to be more engaged with the world around me and the people in it, and that I want a career that would help me to do that. I knew that I wanted to listen to people, study their motivations, and hear their stories, but I also want to tell the world how I perceive it as well. I figured out that what I want more than to be a psychologist is to be a writer.
Q: What do you like to write about?
I enjoy writing poetry the most. Ironically, I feel that poetic language can sometimes take a narrative and remove the complicated nature of words and simply replace them with emotion. To me, language in the form of similes, metaphors, and symbolism reveals so much of the world’s beauty, even in the unpleasant. Not that one can’t do that with prose, but poetry feels like taking the words of something and sculpting it into a more beautiful version that is less encumbered by prose writing rules. I like writing poetry because it feels more pure and organic to me.
Q: What do you enjoy reading? Is it the same as what you write?
What I enjoy reading is an incredible leap from what I like to write. I have a major respect for authors who are successful at world building, as with J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, and I look forward to reading similar authors like Frank Herbert and his novel Dune.
Despite my love for poetry, there are few old poets that I like to read, and even fewer new ones. I think I love the books that I do because they are so different than what I am capable of and leave me in awe.
Q: What genres appeal to you?
I am really big into fantasy and science fiction – anything with mythical beings, space, or futuristic tech. ASSUMING it is well written. My exception to these genres are most supernatural “teen” fiction books that seem to be taking the nation by storm. Classics seem to be more my thing most of the time, like Frankenstein, Dracula, and stuff by Jules Verne or H.G. Wells. I like epics and mythologies, too.
Old works have a certain charm about them. As brilliant as some minds are in more modern literature, I admire old uses of language and structure. Alternatively, though, I also like striking new fiction, such as Sounds Like Crazy by Shana Mahaffey. I enjoy almost anything that can take me out of the ordinary world and take me someplace new (or old) and different.
Q: What was the last thing you read? Did it move you? If not, what was the last thing that did?
The last thing I read was Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. It really did not move me, partially because it is extremely political, which is not something that grips me. I don’t mind texts with a political drive, but when it is such a focus I find it tiring. Also, the book is written with a Russian accent, which although creative, was exhausting to get through at times.
The last thing that truly moved me was The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. I took a course last semester on the work and was incredibly inspired by the sheer brilliance of the work. The poetry alone is more than words can describe, but the technical way Dante sets up the text is also beautiful in its own essence. I still get excited every time I pick it up.
Q: Do you believe that writing has a purpose? If so, what?
Writing has huge purpose. Not only to me, but to the world. Of course it is a sense of self-expression, but more than that it is a way of preservation, which I believe is vastly understated. In a nation where people are watching “Honey Boo Boo” and simple minded reality shows, or only get their daily reading in the form of TMZ, texts remind us that we are truly extraordinary in the way we see the world.
Great works help us to realize there is beauty to be seen and remind us to step back and reflect on it. Writing is how we convey ourselves and our ideas to each other. By each other, I mean even farther reaching than our own community. It is how we share ourselves with the world.
Q: What are your goals (personal, professional, creative, academic, etc.)?
Professionally, I have many goals. The biggest of them is to work for a big name publishing house one day and to work with authors on their manuscripts. Specifically I’d Like to work for Bertelsmann SE & Co. (parent company to Penguin Random House). The corporation is based out of Berlin, my dream city to live in. Additionally, it has many subsidiaries that include some magazine and journal publications, which would allow me to explore my interest in journalism as a freelance feature writer on the side.
My personal goals include seeing as much of the world as possible. Yes, I mean travelling, but not just fly here, fly there. I hope that I can travel and really get immersed with different cultures and locals from all over. I am always on the hunt for more art, literature, different people, and good times. I have an extensive list of countries, and even American cities, that I would like to see. Creatively, I hope I can bring through all of my experiences into my writing, and maybe help to show a little bit more beauty and perspective to people.
Q: Where do you see yourself after you graduate?
My new year’s resolution going into 2015 was to move to Berlin right after I graduate. Which I could still do. However, I’m in a serious long distance relationship right now and that idea might change. Whatever happens, I’m sure it’ll generate some good writing!
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers (or English majors)?
Life is too short to not live it the way you want. Despite what many may think, what you do as a profession or trade plays into that. It took me a long time and a lot of different life experiences for me to figure out what I want to do, where I want to go in life, and how. I’m 26 now, have lived in four states, visited another country, been married, been divorced, and have met people from all different walks of life (and I’m still learning).
I didn’t always know I wanted to be a writer, it was a process. If you are not sure what you want, take the time to slow down and just think and live. It’ll come together. Already know what you want to do? Go out and get it. Don’t wait for opportunity. Being a writer is having a voice. It is not having permission to do so, it is making the decision to do so. Go make moves. Write. Then write some more. Then put yourself and your words out there any way you can. Get opinions, get rejected, get praised. Just go out and take it all. Be yourself, create things, do what you love.
Every once in a blue moon you might find a piece by Tayler Grossman in the University Press. She also just recently joined the online writing project Whizette. You’ll be able to see pieces and musings on there by Miss Grossman soon, at www.whizette.com.
Regarding her work with VF3F, Miss Grossman says: “I intend to keep contributing to Voices from the Third Floor, and [I’d like to say] thanks to anyone who is taking an interest in my words.”
The making of her own blog, T and Coffee, is also in the works. Describing this project, she explains that “It will include some of my poetry and fictitious stories as I write them, but will be more about daily shenanigans I get into. You’ll be able to read my thoughts on pop culture topics, the funny lessons I am constantly learning in my long distance relationship, how I am learning to adult, and more.”
Tayler Grossman will announcing T and Coffee’s launch hopefully later in the summer.