A consistent theme of journeying has traveled with senior Marrissa Childs since her childhood, paving the path to her gathering a group of editors and establishing her own business in creative writing, Journey Writers.
Childs said that between third and sixth grade, she was homeless, and that stemmed her love of creative writing from a place of escape.
Childs’ mother, Marrecca Garrett, used to take her and her siblings to the library to check out books. She would stay up to check out audiobooks and listen to them in the car where her family slept.
When she believed everyone else was asleep, Childs would listen to those audiobooks in the car at night.
“What they did was take me on these little, tiny journeys of the lives of people who did not exist, but it felt like they did,” Childs said. “Stories are journeys. They’re escapes. And that’s what I grew up learning and believing about stories.”
Childs became interested in starting her own business after interning at writing coach service Ink Pen Diva during the second semester of her junior year in 2017. Childs said that after undertaking her first internship, her expectations for writers were different than her boss’s expectations. Because of this, she said she wanted to, first, get her second editing internship with Butterfly Typeface Publishing in Little Rock in the summer of 2018 and, second, start something on her own.
Childs said the name “Journey Writers” was inspired by the value of books as individual journeys.
Childs said Journey Writers is a business geared toward college students that offers an avenue for self-publishing. She said the business provides one-on-one workshopping, with the first workshop free, though the business hasn’t reached the profit stage yet. She said Journey Writers’ first client was from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and was working on an anthology of poetry.
Childs’ business is in its nascency. Currently, the staff consists of four undergraduate or recently graduated editors, and the business is going to have its first campus workshop Nov. 15, the theme of which is the writer’s identity.
For Childs, the journey of discovering their identity comes to define the creative work of writers. “One of my roles in my life is that I am a daughter, and being a daughter to Marrecca Garrett requires wholehearted patience and an immense amount of understanding and love,” Childs said. “And that plays a role in my writer identity in that, for me, being a writer is about being patient and having a full love for what I do.”
Childs said by the end of the Nov. 15 workshop at UCA, students aren’t required to have discovered who they are supposed to be, but it’s meant to function as an introduction to the journey of discovering one’s writing identity.
In terms of identity, Childs said her writing has recently focused on the journey of exploring her own identity in relation to her blackness and her femininity.
“Right now, my biggest issue is trying to figure out who I am as an African-American female writer. A lot of my writing right now is about questioning whether I am black — and what’re the standards for that — and being feminine — [and] what’re the standards for that,” Childs said. “So I haven’t really defined myself as a black feminine writer yet, but that’s what I’m in the process of doing.”
Childs said she plans to go to graduate school and become a creative writing pedagogue. Childs said teaching creative writing means teaching others to embark on their own journeys of identity and self-discovery.