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Mackenzie Patel

It’s difficult writing this final post, but some things must be done: I’m finished writing for LearnTravelArt, which is ironic given today is its fourth birthday. It’s been four years of researching artworks and recording thoughts nobody reads. Four years of dawn crawling articles, Ancient Roman tales, European travel, and short stories based on boys who would never appreciate my work. My writing career was based in junior-year origins, back when I was 16 and just realizing the potential of words. I’ve become more jaded since then, especially since 100% of my writing gigs have been unpaid (while my photography and videography friends are paid frequently). I sometimes wish I was an Adobe suite expert or a real artist with paintbrushes and talent. However, my craft is my writing and without it, I’d be a bottled-up mess who’s only emotional outlet is cooking and hooking up with strangers. LearnTravelArt has been on the decline for a while; most of my articles are reposted from Spoon University or mandatory blog posts from my Study Abroad in Berlin. I haven’t felt the passion – or energy – to create for LTA in ages. I’m older, I’m busier. I divide my time between studying, working, and partying, three activities that leave little time for idle creativity. If I could write for hours and photograph my stories, I’d quit the University of Florida now and be happy. Unfortunately, life isn’t partial to us literary types; we’re unpaid and scrutinized and always compared to J.K. Rowling. We can’t all create Harry Potter, but my nonfiction words are important nonetheless.

Graphic Design in PortlandVisiting Ostia Antica Outside of RomeThe Most Hipster Things I’ve Done in Berlin – these are among my favorite articles, all featured on LTA’s front page. I feel different now, less juvenile, and topics that once seemed important to me (i.e. drip irrigation, Mary Cassatt’s paintings) seem less so now. LearnTravelArt is high school Mackenzie, one that cared about plucking her eyebrows every night and tying her happiness to the boys around her. But she’s older now, more aware of the people around her and how scary and uncertain life after college is. LTA doesn’t understand me – I don’t even understand me – and after this unhappy semester, I need a change stronger than dying my hair purple or chasing a different internship. Majority of the time, I am either angry, annoyed, tipsy, flirtatious, or ambitious – random combinations that make me feel like a younger and less funny version of Tina Fey. I feel strange posting my lingerie party adventures or answers to “why are you still a virgin” on this website; I would be corrupting it, stealing the innocence only a 16-year-old founder can give it. She used to be obsessed with Picasso and Dali; she used to care about climate change data. Now, she barely sleeps enough to stay awake and rewatches three Wes Anderson films a week.

Here’s what I loved about LTA to begin with: I could research my interests, write about them, and share them on a Facebook page I got senior year of high school. Comments such as “you’re such a good writer!” and “your writing style is epic and wonderful” fueled my work, and I used to scrawl article headlines on loose sheets. The lines held ideas such as “Getting Artsy with Graveyards” and “Addicted to Mozart in the Jungle.” Excitement would cascade from my mind to my fingertips whenever a new idea or sentence appeared. And there was no higher satisfaction than highlighting an article idea that came into existence and was published on LTA. My mother would email my articles to her coworkers and talk about my {childish} URL to anyone that would listen. I blush imagining her reactions to my newest writing escapade, a website celebrating the scandalous and the midnights. It’s difficult growing up when everyone still views you as a child.

“I fear my whole life will pass…” trailed Jane Eyre, staring out onto a gray countryside and wearing an unfortunate hairstyle. However, instead of never seeing a city or talking to men, I fear my youth will disappear with no great literary works resulting from this influx of experiences. Every day is novel worthy, every night, a film. The art of writing is dying – if not already dead – so my Grand Strategy of being published by 22 and not working a job in accounting is similarly deceased. This semester has made me a sour Mr. Rochester, one without a publisher or book or credibility. But everything changes so quickly – hourly – that I’ll be smiling and sewed back together in a few weeks.

Do you know what’s delicious? The thought that Google AdSense has paid me $70 in ad revenue – but I can’t claim any of it until I reach the $100 threshold. Seeing as LTA will dissolve before that price point, this creative venture has a been a sunk cost. I don’t mind; money doesn’t guarantee happiness, as I learned this summer. I need to reclaim that feeling, the one of restless originality and the desire to improve my writing skills, instead of being content with stability and nothingness. How much does drinking gin from a flask in a Rockey’s bathroom improve my life? Not much. All this clubbing and lunch dates at Moe’s are entertaining and keep my mind off the breakup/exams/selfish friends, but they leave nothing behind in the end. Publishing a quality article on the other hand – that’s an orgasm the love of my life couldn’t give me.

LearnTravelArt has been so kind to me, and I’ve developed as a writer and person because of her. She’s improved my resume – embraced the cheeky – and gotten me into trouble. However, it’s time to shed the juvenile and become the 20-year-old I was meant to be: seedy, emotional, regretfully passionate, and driven. I can’t care about the others, and I must let go of all reservation. Four years is plenty for a website like this one – I’m grateful for the hours I’ve poured into her. However, it’s time to move on because, like Taylor Swift, “Oh! ….she’d dead.”

Stay tuned for Literary Project Part Two.

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