Wednesday, April 29, 2015

LU MFA Foundations: You? A Professional Scholar? -- Julia Gordon-Bramer

It was never originally my intent to become a Scholar—I capitalize the S because this has become a title and one of my principal occupations. This new role of mine sort of happened on its own when I made my discovery around Sylvia Plath’s mysticism in 2007, and then I had to set about proving my findings to the world. And so, here I am, having learned most of what I know from the best school of all: Trial and Error. Here are summaries of the best lessons from that university:

Don’t Discount Your Own Observations
You’re in an MFA Writing program, which means that you share a love for reading and writing with me. Sometimes you can’t help it, you get excited about the work. And you are bound to come up with your own discoveries and observations, drawn from your own unique perspective. We all do this nearly every day and half the time we don’t realize that no scholar has yet to publish on this angle or that one, or to make such-and-such a comparison, or whatever it is. Whether it is the Ancient Greeks, the Renaissance Classics, or Pop Culture, there is the potential for scholarship in every field imaginable. I want to encourage you, when you find something that seems out of the norm or new, stop a moment and see if anyone has published on this before.  If not, here is your opportunity to make your mark on Academia. If the idea has been documented somewhere vaguely or a mention has fallen into obscurity, maybe you will be the one to expand upon it or say it better.

Use Your Libraries
I had no idea until my scholarship began just how willing librarians are to help. They will teach you how to take notes and record findings in the most efficient manner. They’ll find materials and items for you from other libraries. They’ll even let you into their locked archives to handle rare and irreplaceable documents, provided you contact them ahead of time, prove your need to be there (often just a strong interest, a published paper or two on the subject, and/or college or university affiliation), and respect the rules of the institution. Archive rules vary greatly from no photographs and copies, to pencils only, and more; most rules are posted on the library’s website, often under “Special Collections” or “Rare Manuscripts,” where archival resources are held. As librarians are not always writers themselves, their careers are made by your acknowledgement of their work in your publications. When you find yourself returning to the same archives again and again, you can’t help but make friends. They’re dying to help you, because you treasure and respect this nerdy knowledge in a way the world, by and large, does not.

Publish and Prosper
When you publish a number of papers in a particular subject (your passion), voila! You’ve become an expert. You are now someone who journals will turn to to ask for submissions; students, reporters, and other academics will seek your advice; you’ll be cited as a source in others’ academic work; you’ll look great to your college or university for any future teaching gig you have your eyes on; and you may just collect enough material to pull it all together into a book (or more) later on.  When you’ve made sure your idea/observation has traction, write a bullet-proof paper, cite your sources, and send it to some credible publications in your field. Don’t hesitate also to submit your papers as presentations for conferences (just be prepared to have the money to attend—university department budgets tend not to be too helpful to adjunct professors and teaching assistants, although grants are sometimes available to students and others). When you’ve published or presented your paper, get extra mileage from it by making it available to the world on Academia.edu and other websites. You can see what I do with my own work here: https://lindenwood.academia.edu/JuliaGordonBramer.

Remember: There is no better recipe for scholarship success than being uniquely yourself and passionate about your subject. To your discoveries!
Julia Gordon-Bramer


Lindenwood University MFA in Writing Program
On-Campus or Fully Online (No Residency Requirement)

In the LU MFA Foundations series, our faculty members 
discuss or clarify foundational elements of the craft of creative writing.
Other entries in the series are linked here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Congratulations to our SRSE winners & participants

On April 22, Lindenwood University hosted the 2015 Student Research Symposium & Exposition. Congratulations to the following LU MFA students who won first place and second place awards at the 2015 SRSE:

First Place:
Adrienne Draper
"The Disappearance"

Second Place:
David Gilmore
"Tailor Made"

Adrienne Draper, First Place

Far Right: David Gilmore, Second Place

Congratulations to all of our MFA participants, listed here.

After the awards ceremony, LU MFA faculty member Kelli Allen hosted a celebration
with writing exercises and cookies for our on-campus students and our fully online students.


TLR6 Acceptances

Thank you to all who submitted work to Issue 6 of The Lindenwood Review. All responses have now been sent via email. We are happy to announce our acceptances below. Congratulations to our contributors!

Please note that for Issue 7, our submission process and guidelines will change significantly, so please read the new guidelines, which will be posted here this summer, before submitting to our next issue (we will no longer accept submissions via email). Feel free to contact us with any questions at TheLindenwoodReview@lindenwood.edu.

The Lindenwood Review
ISSUE 6

FICTION
Why We Do ThisJoseph Dornich
WoodworkD. E. Lee
DandelionsKaren Burton

ESSAYS
The Purple BallCynthia Roby
What RemainsSuzie Vander Vorste
Weighing the MathMary I. Caldwell

POETRY
Contemplations of a Colonel's Remembrances of a Ukrainian Girl—Nicole Yurcaba
Cologne—Lauren Bender
I Stand Corrected—Christopher Keaveney
Tonight, Someone is Thrashing Her Wings Against a Gilded Cage, Thrashing Her Wings Against a Starry SomewhereRobert Nazarene
Enter Gardeners—Joe Mills
How, Years Later, He'll Take You Away—M. Ann Hull
Fawn on Bodega Highway—Elizabeth Carothers Herron
Nearing Solstice—Megan Duffy
Water Body—George Eklund
The Rain—Lori Lamothe
Digging in the Dark—Susan Lefler
Starting in Xi'an—Cheryl Clark
My Mother Cleans and Starts the Gumbo—Karen Maceira
Pentimento—Sandy Coomer
When I am away from the water and you—John Davis
What You Will Miss When You're Dead—C. Wade Bentley
When I Think Happiness,—Kate Peper
Still Life—Sara Moore Wagner
Old Brain—Sharon Scholl
Black Thumbs—Michael Constantine McConnell

PROSE POETRY
View our Prose Poetry Contest winner and honorable mentions here.


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Genre Fiction Emphases and Coursework in the Novel

Our new online MFA coursework in the novel and genre fiction includes the following classes and emphases offered to date. New emphases that are offered in future terms will be added to this post.

Genre Fiction Workshop:

Genre Fiction as Literature:

Novel Workshop:

The Novel as Literature:



Lindenwood University MFA in Writing Program
On-Campus or Fully Online (No Residency Requirement)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

LU MFA Foundations: The Practice of Writing--Wm. Anthony Connolly

There are as many different kinds of writers as there are books produced. While all share the vanity of self-possessed flowers, each blooms with a unique fuse.

Being a Writer | Writers wore a certain kind of clothes and lived in a certain fashionbedraggled barflies. And to my way of thinking there was a particular way to be a writer. All of this is hogwash, I now know, but I allow it once rang true and might even still be so for beginning writers today. Old habits die hard and sometimes stereotypes live much longer afterwards; after all it is work to dispel stereotype, and the happy coincidental byproduct is the creation of new habits. The first thing to help you on becoming a writer is to simply be one. This isn't to mean you need to fake anything until you make it, rather it means you should write. Type on a keyboard, write in longhand, anything. Just write. As much as possible.

Write | This is the first and the only step required to begin a writing practice. Here are some other tips which can be adopted or ignore.

Read | I would suggest that you read every thing you can get your hands on, but I know this sounds a little too zealous. It is not presumptuous however to assume you are now a reader; you read books in prose both short and long. You might even have some favorite authors. If you don't read it has to be said you are in the wrong business wanting to be a writer. Reading is completed writing, it helps in a back and forth way to become a better writer. From reading the works of others you learn from their mistakes and their success. Carve out time every day to read. Anything.

Time | Pause for a moment for some self-reflection and during this interlude ask yourself honestly what time of day are you at your best. This is not to say your best is anything other than a time when you feel the most yourself. For example, I am at my best fairly early in the morning. This doesn't mean I could hold great conversations with you or build a bookshelf; for me it means it's the time I feel is the best for writing. I can concentrate, I feel good about getting work done early and I tend to be able to sit for longer spells in the morning. I have learned over the years the exact calibration of what times exactly work for me. Too early and I'm only kidding myself. Too groggy. Too late and I begin to panic my best material has been swallowed by the day. Each of us has a specific time. Pick yours.

Space | It is equally important to my thinking, which might not be your own, to have a regular space to spend some time every day to sit down and be your best while writing. For me, it's a desk in a quiet part of the house. For you it could be in a busy coffeehouse or on the deck of a houseboat. I don't really care. But what is important here is that you decide where you want to be when you are writing. It is important in establishing your practice to have as few variables as possible.

Tools | I don't chide anyone their whims. Every writer comes to the page differently. Some write directly into their computers, others write longhand. My own choice, over many years, is to write longhand in a journal and as material accumulates I then begin to translate this material in a digital form. For some projects I add step between paper and computer by typing up material on a manual typewriter. Choose was works for you. People will give you plenty of advice here, but ultimately it's all about you and you'll figure it out for yourself. Once you do you'll need no one's advice on what to do to get your work down.

Feedback | At a point in time, again a decision that is solely yours, seek out some readers; they can even be fellow writers. Let others read your work and provide you with some feedback as to what you have produced. In draft form the idea is simply to understand how others will come to perceive what you were intending. Writing for yourself alone is not to be devalued, but for now it's best that in beginning your practice you share the fruits of your labor. This feedback helps you continue to sit down and attempt to write given either nebulous or specific criticism; more on levels of criticisms later on.

The Take Away:
1 Decide to write
2 Write as much as you can
3 Read
4 Find a time
5 Find a space
6 Choose your tools
7 Get feedback

As you can see there is a lot of room here for personal choices to be made because remember for every different kind of book out there, there's a different kind of writer who penned it.

Write and write well.
—Wm. Anthony Connolly


Lindenwood University MFA in Writing Program
On-Campus or Fully Online (No Residency Requirement)

In the LU MFA Foundations series, our faculty members 
discuss or clarify foundational elements of the craft of creative writing.
Other entries in the series are linked here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

SRSE MFA Participants 2015

Congratulations to the MFA students chosen to participate in the Student Research Symposium & Exposition on April 22, 2015, in the Spellmann Center at Lindenwood University. The sessions are open to the public, and the schedule of MFA readers is listed below (other participants are included in these sessions; the MFA participants are noted here):

SESSION 1:  2:00-3:20pm in Spellmann 3090:
Stacy Gorse: “Split”

SESSION 2:  3:30-4:50pm in Spellmann 3115:
Stephen W. Baker: “Roxy’s: A Horror Story”
Deborah Atkinson: “The Ironwood Triad: A Reading from the Hunter’s Guild”
William David County: “Priscilla”
  
SESSION 3:  5:00-6:20pm—Concurrent Sessions:

Spellmann 3115:
Holiday Goldfarb: Three Poems

Spellmann 4105:
Andi Dobek: “The Procedure”
David Gilmore: “Tailor Made”
Joshua Lanham: “The Heist”
Adrienne Draper: Untitled

Spellmann 4185:
Sam J. Imperiale: “A Few Drops of Blood”
Jacqueline McGarry: “Hexagon Heart”

Best wishes to all of our MFA participants! 


Lindenwood University MFA in Writing Program
On-Campus or Fully Online (No Residency Requirement)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

LU MFA Foundations: Reading Like a Writer--Tony D'Souza

How I Read

In my career, I have determined that there are three essential things that constitute work for a writer:

1. The act of writing itself, which should be conducted with discipline, meaning devote a lot of time to it in a regular and set way. Everyday for a set amount of hours is ideal, if not really practical in the demands of life (and nobody is a machine, rest and recharging the creative juices is a wonderful thing). But don’t treat it like a hobby or wait for retirement or put it off for some mythical day in the future when you will have all this extra time. The time is now! Many great writers had to juggle the time-demands of life all through their careers.

2. Write off the page. This means think about your work when you are going about life, think about your stories and characters in the shower, while shopping, while daydreaming. Perhaps not too hard: let the fertile garden of the subconscious do its mystical work. But be aware at all times that you are a writer and you have writing to do.

3. Read. Read a lot. Read more than anyone you know. Read so much that only other writers can understand how much you read. And when you read, read like a writer.

How to read like a writer:

I can only offer my experience, so when I say read like a writer, I mean read like me. I am being tongue-in-cheek here, but my reading experience is based on how other writers read. In my apprenticeship or discovery days when I was reading writers like Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Faulkner for the first time and on my own for pleasure, I also read about their lives. They invariably described the books that they read to interviewers and biographers. It’s no secret that Hemingway liked the Russian novelists and wasn’t averse to picking up detective novels. Pay attention to the titles your favorite authors mention as having influenced them. Go and read those books immediately. Then read the books those older authors admired. Keep going, one author to the next, until you get to the end. The end will always be in the oldest texts we have, the ancient classics like Gilgamesh and scripture. Let writers who have come before save you time. They had good sense about books and they will suggest good titles, even though they are long gone now themselves.

Literature is a great tree. Its trunk is the classics of antiquity, and its branches are the various families or styles that have evolved from that in modern times. All of it should be read so that you can know your place in it, what has come before the work you are doing and paved the way for your work, and who your literary antecedents are. But reading all of literature is absolutely impossible for any one of us. Do the best that you can to build your literary foundation.

How do you do that? Coursework in high school and undergrad does help a lot; we get the basics there that give us a beginning commonality when we discuss the canon and what our shared literary tradition is. We can all generally count on everyone else having read the Greek epics, Beowulf, some Shakespeare, and a few American novels like Huck Finn, Catcher in the Rye and Gatsby. This should only be the beginning. Try to fill in those places of the history of our literary tradition if you can. If you hear certain works talked about repeatedly in class or wherever, Don Quixote for example, or Flannery O’Connor’s short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” go read them. Writers all around you will always be talking about titles from the present and the past. The earnest writer will make an attempt to read all of these.

As you read, think about the place of each work on that great tree. You will start to see the branches form. Twain leads to Sherwood Anderson leads to Hemingway leads to Ray Carver leads to Tim O’Brien. Cervantes leads Calvino leads to Marquez leads to Saramago. Sappho leads to Chopin leads to Hurston leads to Morrison. And on and on. Who are you? Who are your literary parents?

We read as writers to understand the history of what has been said; it’s our basic foundation just like painters—even Jackson Pollock who is famous for splashing paint on canvases began with drawing the nude figure. We learn how stories open, continue, and close. Or we learn how others have experimented with that form. Many writers talk about typing out other writers’ story openings, or whole stories; I did this and discovered the cadences and lyricism in every line of DH Lawrence for example. Get intimate with the language on the page.

Reading should be enjoyed, of course, and there is a time for that. But once you are a writer, I do think it should be difficult to read for enjoyment alone. You should be thinking about how and why the sentences flow together, how a scene is built on specific images, and on and on. You should have two voices in your head as you read; one that likes or dislikes the work on a basic level, and another that is dissecting the very construction of how and why the words are where they are on the page, why a sentence is long or short, why a paragraph break occurs, why a metaphor works. If a book is a house, then you should be dismantling it in your mind. Your reading should be active and coupled with thought, not just a passive acceptance of what is on the page.

Here are two parting tips that I always employ in my reading. The first is, I always stop myself whenever I am reading and I realize that I have forgotten that I am reading. The great teacher of writing—Ray Carver’s teacher John Gardener—said that the goal of the novelist is to create the “continuous dream.” He meant that our goal is to create a work so engaging and sure that the reader becomes immersed in the world of it and the real world falls away. Whenever I realize that I have forgotten I am reading—this was difficult at first, like realizing you are having a dream while asleep—I stop, go back and recognize that the writer did something very successful and made me lose myself in the work. I try to identify what did it. There is always an answer, whether it be a particularly crisp passage of dialogue that brings the characters to life, or a particularly beautiful passage of description. I read these passages until I understand what worked so well.

The second thing I always do—and this is so easy and seemingly basic—I circle or note down any word that I do not know. In the beginning of my discovery, I was circling dozens of words in every book. Now it’s the rare word that is new to me. But I just read Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. I loved the book; it had me looking up words from the world of haute cuisine in nearly every paragraph. I hadn’t had such an education in years and felt so broadened and enriched.

There is a famous scene in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness when the ship first arrives on the coast of West Africa. Conrad writes that the mists hung over the shore in “diaphanous folds.” I had to look up diaphanous. We know Conrad’s mastery of English even though it was his fourth language after Polish, Russian and French; where did he get all those lovely words? He spent years working on ships and said that he read the books available to him on them. These were usually romances of the era, full of words like “diaphanous.” So he stole them. That’s what we’re reading to do, to steal techniques, words, and make them our own. I think any writer is lost without a love for active reading.  Nothing can be lost to a writer in any hour of reading; reading can also help us through those periods when our creative wells are dry. We may not be putting pen to page at those times, but we are reading. We can therefore feel good about ourselves that we are improving our toolboxes as writers. Anything a writer can do to help the fragile writer’s ego is a good thing; reading is the easiest and most necessary of these.

A last note on reading as a writer; when I was beginning in this craft and I would ask much older writers what they were reading, they invariably said, “The classics.” I found this annoying back then, thought they were being old curmudgeons, tired and closed to the new books being put out. Now I understand. There is really so very little time in a single life, that as the years pass, one wants to read ‘good’ books and not fritter away time as often on new works that have not yet been vetted by history. Those older writers found their reading time to be precious and not to be risked. To a certain extent, I have become like this myself.

But I am always glad to give a new title a try based on a recommendation. I rarely read books simply because they are bestsellers. I have my writing circle and trust their opinions. I am always amazed at the veins of great writing I didn’t know about and discover on a tip; I remember coming across the Icelandic sagas for the first time in this way, as well as the Hungarian poets pre-WWII. I know there are other periods out there waiting for me. Much of reading for me has become wading through books to find something truly great. It happens to me a few times a year. I also read out of my genre all the time; my reading in poetry, nonfiction, and scripts has also greatly contributed to my own writing and given me plenty of new fields for influence and discovery.

Happy reading! 
Tony D'Souza 


Lindenwood University MFA in Writing Program
On-Campus or Fully Online (No Residency Requirement)

In the LU MFA Foundations series, our faculty members 
discuss or clarify foundational elements of the craft of creative writing.
Other entries in the series are linked here.

Friday, April 10, 2015

New Submission Guidelines for The Lindenwood Review

These revised guidelines apply beginning with Issue 6 of The Lindenwood Review (for regular submissions of fiction, essay, or poetry; for contest submission guidelines, see the link at the bottom of this page). This revision will appear on our TLR website next week.

Submission Guidelines
  • Submissions are accepted from June 1 through November 1 each year. Submissions received before June 1 or after November 1 will not be considered.
    • Submissions should be attached as a single Word document (.doc or .docx), with the writer’s last name in the document title. We will not consider submissions that have multiple attachments, pdf attachments, or that link to an online document. We do not accept mailed hard copy submissions.
    • The email’s subject line must include the genre of the submission (fiction, essay, or poetry).
    • Include a brief third-person bio in the body of the email.
  • Only one submission should be submitted by each writer per year (one story or one essay or one group of up to five poems). However, a writer may submit to that issue’s free contest (see link at the bottom of this page for contest submission period and contest guidelines) and may also submit a story, essay, or group of poems during that issue’s regular submission period.
  • Do not submit work that has been previously published elsewhere, whether online or in print.
  • Simultaneous submissions are allowed, but we ask to be notified immediately if a piece is accepted elsewhere. This notification email should include the title and genre of the withdrawn submission (fiction, essay, or poetry).
  • We welcome submissions from both new writers and established writers. Please note that current Lindenwood University students and faculty are NOT eligible to submit their work to TLR. LU alumni are eligible to submit.
  • We look for fiction with believable characters and a vivid story; poetry with original, interesting use of language; well-crafted, honest essays; and mostly, work that moves us as readers and inspires us as writers.
  • Follow the format guidellines for the genre of your submission:
    • POETRY: Up to five poems may be submitted each year. All poems must be included in a single Word document, with one poem per page. The Word document title should include the writer’s last name, and the subject line of the submission email should include the genre POETRY. Include name and contact info at the top of each poem. Poems should be single-spaced and use a standard size and style font.
    • FICTION: One story of up to 20 pages may be submitted each year. Attach the story as a Word document, with the writer’s last name included in the document title. The subject line of the submission email should include the genre FICTION. Include name and contact info on the first page of the story. Page numbers should appear on each page. Stories should be double-spaced and use a standard size and style font.
    • ESSAY: One essay of up to 20 pages may be submitted each year. Attach the essay as a Word document, with the writer’s last name included in the document title. The subject line of the submission email should include the genre ESSAY. Include name and contact info on the first page of the essay. Page numbers should appear on each page. Essays should be double-spaced and use a standard size and style font.
The Lindenwood Review is a print journal and is published annually each spring. Contributors receive two copies of the issue in which their work appears. If you have any questions, email us at TheLindenwoodReview@lindenwood.edu.

For more information about Lindenwood University's MFA Program, with both on-campus and fully online options (no residency requirement), visit us here

Prose Poetry Contest submission guidelines for Issue 6 are available here

Thursday, April 9, 2015

TLR Prose Poetry Contest Results

We are happy to announce the winner and honorable mentions for the Prose Poetry Contest for Issue 6 of The Lindenwood Review:

WINNER:

Jennifer Martelli
The Devil Tides


HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Emma Bolden
When No Mother Was Looking

Nadia Chaney
Chalcedony

Michael Colonnese
Nuthatch

Damien Cowger
People Just Talk

Tatiana Dolgushina
Alaska
Siberia, Russia

Allison Goldston
Guest Room

Sarah Halper
Sucker

Emily Hockaday
Comfort

John McCarthy
Study of Disbelief

Colleen McKee
How Long Had She Lived in This Cave? 

Douglas W. Milliken
Pretty

Elaine Mintzer
No Vacancy

Marybeth Rua-Larsen
Stillborn

Anne Dyer Stuart
Ode to the Girl in the Red Cowboy Boots

Ann Tweedy
A Pocket of Words

Chris Warner
Daylight

Monica Wendel
Still Waters
Knickerboker Ave, July

Issue 6 will be available in Spring 2016. Thank you to all who submitted work to our contest. 

TLR Prose Poetry Contest--No Entry Fee

We are happy to announce our free Prose Poetry Contest for Issue 6 of The Lindenwood Review. Please carefully read and follow the guidelines below in order to have your work considered for the contest:
  • No entry fee.
  • Winner receives $50, publication in Issue 6 of The Lindenwood Review, and three contributor copies. Issue 6 will be published in spring 2016.
  • Honorable Mentions receive publication and three contributor copies of TLR6.
  • Contest entries will be accepted from May 1 through August 1, 2015. Entries received before or after this submission period will not be considered for the contest.
  • PLEASE NOTE: Email responses will only be sent to the winner and honorable mentions (by October 1, 2015). Individual rejection emails will not be sent to entrants who do not place in the contest. Contest entrants should check our Prose Poetry Contest Results page on October 1, 2015, for a list of all acceptances. 
  • For this contest, we will NOT accept simultaneous submissions. Do not submit work that is under consideration elsewhere or that has previously been published in print or online. If your email states that your prose poem is a simultaneous submission, it will not be considered for this contest. (Regular TLR submissions of fiction, poetry, and essay may be simultaneous submissions; click here for submission period and guidelines.)
  • Up to three prose poems may be submitted per writer, but they must all be included in a single Word document, with a document title that includes the author's last name. If separate documents are attached to a submission email, only the first document will be considered for the contest.
  • Put your name and contact information on your submission document.
  • Double-space and use a font that is a standard size and style.
  • Each prose poem should be no longer than one double-spaced page.
  • Email your entry as a Word document attachment to TheLindenwoodReview @ lindenwood.edu. Type Prose Poetry Contest in the subject line of the email. Include a brief third-person bio in the body of the email. 
  • We welcome submissions from both new and established writers. Please note that current Lindenwood University students and faculty are not eligible to submit work to The Lindenwood Review. (LU alumni are eligible to submit.)
  • For more information about our journal, visit our website. Regular submission guidelines for TLR are available here (fiction, poetry, and personal essay, accepted June 1 through November 1). Writers who enter our contest may also send us a separate submission of fiction, poetry, or personal essay during the regular submission period for Issue 6.
  • For more information about Lindenwood University's MFA in Writing Program, with both on-campus and fully online options (no residency requirement), visit us here.
Click HERE to read Defining Prose Poetry by Eve Jones

LU MFA Alum Glenn Bruce Featured in EDGE

This year's issue of Lindenwood's EDGE publication focuses on student scholarship and features an article on recent LU MFA graduate Glenn Bruce: 



Wednesday, April 8, 2015

LU MFA Foundations: Anatomy of a Poem--Catherine Rankovic

Below are slides from Catherine Rankovic's presentation, Anatomy of a Poem:


In the LU MFA Foundations series, our faculty members 
discuss or clarify foundational elements of the craft of creative writing.
Other entries in the series are linked here.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

LU MFA Foundations: On Empathy--Kelli Allen

Kelli Allen recommends this article as an example of how spending time reading can help develop empathy. Her notes and the article link are below:

We cannot write if we do not read, and read WELL.

Being an excellent writer requires one to be empathic: An author must be able to recognize, explore, nurture, and sometimes let go, the many personalities she brings to the page. She can only do this by being an extraordinary reader. Reading allows us to cultivate methods to experience, demonstrate, and expand our capacity for empathy. If we are great readers, we can aspire to be even better writers. Neil Gaiman explains why the reader-writer-reader dynamic is vital for crafting, appreciating, and understanding how to be an empathetic artist, nay, human.

Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading, and daydreaming:


An excerpt:

“And the second thing fiction does is to build empathy. When you watch TV or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people. Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You're being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you're going to be slightly changed.

Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals.

You're also finding out something as you read vitally important for making your way in the world. 

And it's this:

The world doesn't have to be like this. Things can be different.”


In the LU MFA Foundations series, our faculty members 
discuss or clarify foundational elements of the craft of creative writing.
Other entries in the series are linked here.