Here at Affinity Magazine, we consider ourselves extremely fortunate to have so many diverse young writers on our staff. Our writers are constantly bringing new perspectives to light, shattering stereotypes, and reshaping our perceptions of the world. Each month, we choose to highlight one of these writers, whose voice Affinity wouldn’t be the same without, as our Writer of the Month. This month, we named Mary Dodys, of GA, USA, as our December Writer of the Month.
Since joining our staff last fall, Mary has seemingly covered it all—she’s written an exposé on the corruption and elitism in her high school, an article that takes a deeper look at “ethical living” and a review of the problematic third season of Thirteen Reasons Why.
But what we love most about Mary’s writing isn’t her ability to cover anything under the sun or her prolific collection of work. Instead, we are captivated by Mary’s writing style. There’s something magical about the way Mary writes. She tells stories with such ease, in a style uniquely her own. Mary’s articles read like conversations, relatable and welcoming, and one can just visualize the stories she spins. Her command of words is simply beyond her years.
We had the opportunity to learn more about Mary, her writing process, and her aspirations in a brand new interview. Here’s a little peek into the mind of our December Writer of the Month:
Alice Ao: What is your background, and how has it influenced your writing?
Mary Dodys: Journalism and media was a major part of my childhood. I feel as though the news was always on when I was growing up. I would see female journalists on the screen and wish my voice could be that important. Every day, I was mesmerized by the reporters on the screen.
Don’t get me wrong—it wasn’t all politics and investigative reporting. When I was young, my news sources were both NBC and E!. I listened to Britney and Katy Perry on CD. I adored celebrity gossip and beauty magazines. Paris Hilton was my glitzy 2000’s icon. While I’ve added Democratic debates, old literature and rock music into the mix, I still find myself immersed in celebrity and pop culture.
I love writing about deeper aspects of this culture—the deep-rooted flaws of Hollywood and the music industry, the problematic elements of these stars and that media. Pop culture has always inspired me, both its glitz and its grit. Despite the initial connotations attached to writing about arts and culture, I have a serious element to my writing, though the subjects can sometimes seem trivial in the big picture of society.
AA: What sparked your passion for writing?
MD: Writing has always been an important element of my life. I always wanted to tell stories when I was younger, but I never felt as though my art communicated enough. I began writing captions and short stories to go along with a drawing, newspaper-style.
I learned to write this way from real newspapers—local ones and The Times—but also culture and entertainment magazines! I’d find myself staring at gripping headlines and best-dressed-worst-dressed columns. I loved them! People, Vogue, Glamour. I still have that element to my writing—entertainment and lifestyle—just less lipgloss Paris Hilton and more social justice.
AA: What’s your writing process like?
MD: Chaotic. I don’t have a routine, necessarily. While my bed is my favorite spot, I’ve written articles in rather unconventional settings, such as the passenger seat at 2 a.m. and an algebra class. I find that most of my articles are spontaneous, rather than planned, and I think that works best for me. It’s a bit wild, but it’s how I work best.
AA: What’s your favorite part of writing for Affinity?
MD: My favorite part of writing for Affinity is the professionalism and communication between the staff. It’s such a healthy environment and has helped me improve as a writer because I’m not afraid to talk to other writers and reach out to an editor for help.
AA: What’s your favorite article you’ve ever written for Affinity?
MD: I’m proud of all my work for Affinity, but I have a few favorites. I spent a week researching toxic masculinity and male makeup for one of my pieces. I believe that it’s a take on toxic masculinity that some haven’t taken before, as it shines a light on the artistry element of gender expression. I also enjoyed writing my Goldfinch review—it was just such an easy write and one of my rawest reviews so far.
AA: Outside of Affinity, what else do you write?
MD: I write a lot. Sometime I’ll write an article or rant on Twitter, but the majority of my other writing is fiction or poetry. I’m always writing though—online, in my sketchbook, on my homework. I’ve been writing for years, but I didn’t even attempt journalistic writing until last year. I would always go online and give my opinion on new music and movies, but I didn’t realize that I could actually turn those feelings into real writing.
AA: Do you have any hobbies?
MD: When I’m not writing, I’m either painting or reading—I have a thing for pretentious literature.
AA: Do you have any movie, TV show, or music recommendations?
MD: As of right now, I’m currently obsessed with the show New Girl, and I just recently watched Booksmart (and let’s just say it was an immediate favorite). I have plenty of favorites, as I’m ever-so-slightly obsessed with TV and film, but I’m really enjoying those right now. Music-wise, I currently have The Velvet Underground’s self-titled album on repeat—so beautiful!
AA: What are your future plans?
MD: My future plans are big and hopefully filled with writing. I’d love to study journalism at the University of Georgia and eventually write for one of the glamorous magazines I always stole my from mother as a child. Writing about culture and lifestyle is something I’ve always admired, and it would be a dream to do it as my profession, but I’m leaning towards law as well!
Want to write for Affinity like Mary? Applications will open up soon!
All images are courtesy of Mary Dodys