When deliberating which literature piece deserved our Staff Choice Award, our staff faced a tough choice—we received so many good pieces! Of all of the literature pieces published, Dorothea Rosenblatt’s “To Tabitha—” stood out to us for many reasons. From the relatable emotions that arc through the five stanzas to the unique concrete images that transport the reader to house where Tabitha no longer lives, Scribendi can confirm that Dorothea was successful in her goal to “write something that somehow, somewhere, will hit someone in the heart like that and remind them that, whatever they’re going through, they aren’t alone.”
Dorothea is a junior at the University of Arizona. The creative writing major was steered toward being a writer when she was in high school. A teacher gave her the opportunity to respond to a novel freely without a prompt. “Suddenly, I was free to approach the book from whatever angle I wanted, and, as I began an outline, I realized that there was more to literature than just pure entertainment or the interpretations my teachers came up with,” Dorothea explained. She says that she isn’t saying that that six-page paper is the reason she declared her major and never looked back, but “also I guess that’s exactly what I’m saying.” So in this space, Scribendi formally thanks that teacher for allowing her students to explore themselves, and for being the impetus of the artist who created our favorite piece of literature this year.
Dorothea compares her writing process to a fine wine: a first draft is written in one sitting, then left to ferment for several months. Another component of the writing process is inspiration. Dorothea is inspired by “women who wrote great works of fiction and asked difficult and taboo questions despite the fact that their entire society thought that they weren’t capable of producing anything truly meaningful. Also, anyone who lives with chronic physical or mental illness and creates art in spite of it.” Dorothea also feels a strong connection to Jane Eyre’s struggle to find freedom and meaning in her life.
After letting the inspiration mingle with the first draft, Dorothea returns to it. “Obsessive” editing completes the process (and the Scribendi staff can attest to Dorothea ’s meticulous editing—“To Tabitha—” came to us in mint condition in terms of copyediting!). “Rinse and repeat until I’m reasonably happy with the result,” says the poet. We can look forward to more work from Dorothea in the future. She’s working on two novel projects: an urban fantasy action/adventure mystery, and a piece about mental illness and found families. “Plus, obviously, the occasional poem when the mood strikes me,” Dorothea says.
Until her next publication, Dorothea left us with the story of the love of the smell of creosote after a rainstorm she alludes to her in author bio:
“A few summers ago, I was in New York while the last dregs of Hurricane Arthur were blowing in. I had gone out for coffee with a few friends, and we had made the grave miscalculation of walking out into Manhattan without umbrellas. “It’ll be fine,” we thought. “I mean, it isn’t raining right now.” Of course, it wasn’t fine, and I ended up walking ten blocks in sopping wet converse. But there was a moment where the rain paused, and you could look out over the streets and see the city lights reflecting off the puddles. And it did look a little bit like how everyone imagines New York: the city that never sleeps, full of urban beauty and the promise of freedom. It also smelled awful, because New York always smells like garbage and dog pee, especially in July. The rain only tamps it down a little bit, it never washes it off completely. So now, when I’m at home, every time I smell the sharp-sweet scent of creosote, I’m reminded that even though I don’t particularly like the city or the weather or the cacti, I’m lucky to have lived somewhere that can ever smell that clean.”