Category Archives: Guest Posts

Sometimes, Writers Live ‘In a Lonely Place’

By Anthony Miglieri

There are a whole lot of films, and great films at that, about screenwriting. A few of the best are Barton Fink (1991), written and directed by the Coen Brothers, and Adaptation. (2002), directed by Spike Jonze and written by Charlie Kaufman. However, few films I have ever seen are able to paint such a vivid and violent portrait of a screenwriting artist as the under-appreciated noir piece In a Lonely Place (1950), which was directed by Nicolas Ray, screenwritten by Andrew Solt, and adapted by Edmund H. North from a Dorothy B. Hughes story.  

When this film opens, Hollywood screenwriter Dixon Steele (portrayed by Humphrey Bogart) is bitter and frustrated. He hasn’t had a hit in years and his latest assignment is to adapt a popular novel that Dix is sure is trash. Unwilling to read the bestseller himself, he has a celebrity-obsessed young woman relay the plot to him at his home. Soon after she leaves, she turns up dead and Dix strikes up a relationship with a sultry new neighbor who has doubts about his professed innocence in the case.

This film depicts the writer as an artist who strives to create something great in spite of his circumstances: the weak original novel, his agent who is afraid his superior script is not faithful enough to the book, and the murder accusation. Dix is volatile: he often gets publicly drunk and lashes out verbally and physically at friend and stranger alike. However, writing seems to give him an almost sexual sort of pleasure. For instance, when his police officer friend asks him how he supposes the murder would have happened, Dix describes in graphic detail how the strangling might have gone down, a sadistic grin splayed across his face. He revels in his own ability to imagine and create something so vivid and gruesome. He also gets inspiration from newfound love interest Laurel Gray, fueling the idea that physical/emotional pleasure and satisfactory writing go hand-in-hand for him. He relishes the ability to create with words, and being unproductive is the ultimate impotence for him.

Dix’s relationships to the women of the film also comment on the male-centric nature of the Hollywood screenwriting industry. For instance, Dix only interacts with the young woman at the beginning of the film, Mildred, played by Martha Stewart, in order to use her since he is too lazy to read the novel, and then she ends up dead. Whether or not Dix is being entirely truthful when he coolly receives the news of her murder from the police, his projected disregard for the woman is disturbing and reveals a sense of superiority over the woman.

Later, Dix finds contentment and inspiration to work when he becomes romantically involved with Laurel, played by Gloria Graham. Although Laurel does appear to genuinely care for Dix for a time, her fate is similar to that of young Laurel: Dix eventually decides she may no longer be useful to him. Only this time, he becomes violently protective and accuses her of betraying him. In the stunning final frames of this movie, which I not reveal, the fate of their relationship makes a statement about the gender politics at play: the man, traditionally in the position of power, is on a different plane.

In a Lonely Place also depicts the writer as a man who, though he relishes doing good work, projects an air of detached cool to most others.

One of my favorite bits in the film is when a friend chirps:

“I always wonder how writers work.”

His response: “Usually in a sitting position.”

In an earlier scene, a child asks him for his autograph outside a Hollywood bar. Only when the child admits he doesn’t know who Dix is does he happily oblige him. I can certainly relate to this strange dichotomy: having pride in one’s work, but also an unwillingness to brag about how good it might be. This might not be exclusive to writing, but the often-elusive nature of the writer does lend itself to this mindset.

Although I once again refuse to spoil the end of the film, I will say that it involves Dix’s hardheaded approach to his art. And in the end, his art proves to have been far more prescient than even he had imagined.

Although In a Lonely Place is chock full of searing dialogue, the most well-known quote is this:

“I was born when she kissed me. I died when she left me. I lived a few weeks while she loved me.”

This quote is multi-pronged: it is directed at Dix’s love interest, Laurel, but it also represents his obsession with his writing, the violence he has displayed toward her before, and the fleeting nature of inspiration in general. Somehow, this brilliant film manages to sum up in three sentences the passion, the romance, and the fatalism of the act of screenwriting, of writing as a whole, and of art.

Anthony Miglieri is a English Creative Writing major with minors in screenwriting and graphic arts. He is also the head web editor for on-campus entertainment news outlet The Reel Deal and an intern for Jacket Copy Creative. He also really likes old movies. You can connect with him here.

To the Undecided English Majors

By: Kaitlyn Sumner

So, you’re great at writing an 8-page research paper in under 24 hours. You’re able to finish an entire novel within a night and be ready for a class discussion the next morning. You can relate centuries old rhetorical arguments to modern-day marketing efforts.

The question you ask yourself daily: “What am I even going to do with this?”

Well, we’re going to remind you of three things:

You have skills.

You’ve more than likely heard the timeless question: “What are you going to do with an English degree?” (Another form of this question: “Are you going to teach/be an author, or…?”) This has cropped up multiple instances throughout your college career: a family reunion, a work meeting, an organization event.

You blush, or maybe you get annoyed. It’s literally always the same question, you say to yourself. You have to politely explain that, no, you aren’t going to teach. No, you aren’t going to write novels. And, yeah, you might do something like *insert your goal career here*.

Continue reading

Hannah’s Internship Experience: Wiley Publishing

By: Hannah Partridge

This summer, I was fortunate enough to be offered an Acquisitions Internship at Wiley Publishing in Fishers, Indiana. Specifically, I was an intern for the For Dummies brand. Most people are familiar with the iconic black and yellow reference guides, and over the summer I had the opportunity to see exactly how the company creates their books and maintains their global brand.

First things first, I have to say that I am unsure I would have received this internship had I not been a part of Jacket Copy Creative last year. The skills and experience I gained in that course filled up a blank space on my resume, and it was the first thing I was asked about in my interviews. When English faculty tells you to take immersive learning courses, and tells you they look good on resumes, they’re not kidding.

My internship was full time, 8:30-4:30 every day, and I commuted to the office from my apartment in Muncie. During my time at Wiley, I completed a variety of tasks and projects. I learned to use the company’s various online tools and programs to check data about their books, and put the results in various spreadsheets (Proficiency in Microsoft Excel is another great skill to have). I also worked with other interns to develop marketing tools and original content for dummies.com, and researched potential authors and topics for new For Dummies books. Using skills obtained in ENG 430, I used Adobe InDesign to design and format documents using For Dummies logos, icons, and other branded elements. My manager, Amy, wanted me to see all the inner workings of the publishing industry, so she had me sit in on various conference calls and weekly meetings to get a sense of everything that goes into creating a For Dummies book.

Continue reading

Digital Writing Studio: Saving Lives, One Blog at a Time

By: Cecelia Westbrook

The Nightmare: Blogging

When it comes to doing things on the internet, I struggle. A lot. I didn’t understand Twitter at all until six months ago, and I still only understand basics. I have many friends with beautifully laid out blogs that I admire, but I’ve always told myself, “That is not your literary cup of tea.”

But now I’m a senior creative writing major. And it’s time.

One of my professors suggested I create a website/blog. So, I tried. And trying was about as far as I got with the process. I couldn’t figure out how to add a navigation bar, drop-down lists, my own pictures, my social media links, or anything. Basically, it was a black and white illegible, unnavigable mess.

I spent two hours looking at YouTube instructional videos, clicking every button possible, and ended up with at least six “About Me” tabs. I was ready to throw my laptop out of my apartment window.

I went to my professor for help, and she suggested I go the Writing Center.

Even though I didn’t say anything, my face said, “For an online blog? What are they going to know? They help people with research papers and cover letters, not blogs.”

“No,” she said. “I mean the Digital Writing Studio.”

Now this sounds helpful!

Continue reading

5 Albums to Keep You Warm This Fall

By: Corey Halbert

It feels like it’s taken forever, but Fall is finally here. The leaves are changing, the air is getting colder, and pumpkin-flavored drinks are back on the menus. Autumn is a time of change, and a time of reflection, so we’ve gathered five albums to soundtrack it.

The Tallest Man on Earth – The Wild Hunt

Folk – 2010

        Even the album art for this record feels like Fall. The grey clouds, desolate Midwestern landscape, and the grey asphalt in the foreground all remind us of a cool afternoon drive through the countryside. This record by Swedish singer songwriter Kristian Matsson just feels like Fall. The finger picked guitar melodies, the Dylan-esque croon to Matsson’s voice, and the lyrics about change and moving on all make for a perfect fall record.

Best tracks: King of Spain, Love is All, Kids on the Run

Continue reading

4 Ways to Make an Unpaid Internship Work for You

By: Olivia Power

If you work during the school year or in the summer, you probably think you don’t have the time or money for an unpaid internship. Or, you may think that these types of internships are merely a form of exploitation. If you find yourself nodding your head in agreement at this point, this post is for you.

It’s enough to make an English major despair, isn’t it? What’s the point in working without a tangible reward? Or what if working for free is just not a financial possibility? And why are so many unpaid internships the exact kind that English majors want–positions for writers and editors? Are words really this cheap?

But don’t despair, English majors. Unpaid internships can be tricky, but when you find one that strikes the right balance between good experience and low time-commitment, it can end up being well worth your time.

As I read the description for the position of Communications & Marketing intern at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana at the end of last semester, my heart began to race. I had been searching for a position exactly like this one for months, one that would suit my interest in nonprofit organizations. But, as their name implies, nonprofits rarely have the luxury of extra cash for paying interns, relying on volunteers and just a few salaried staffers to carry out their mission. When I applied for the internship, I knew I wouldn’t be getting paid, but hoped that I’d gain enough good experience would make up for the spending money I’d be missing out on. I got that and more.

Here are some ways to approach an unpaid internship to make sure you get the most out of your experience, just as I did this past summer.

Continue reading

Why you should write a novel (and fail) in college

Jalynn is a junior Communication Studies major with an interest in social media, PR, and design. She loves to read YA novels and occasionally writes mediocre fiction – she’s working on the mediocre part.  Want to connect?

by Jalynn Madison

I’ve known I’ve wanted to write since the 5th grade – the same year I fell in love with books. I loved how words on a page could make me feel so many things at once. Sometimes I was sad, surprised, or angry. But no matter what I felt while I was reading, I was always hungry for more by the end. I decided at the age of 10 that I wanted to have a command over words so powerful that I could make people feel the way I always felt when reading a book.

And so began my journey of writing.

Continue reading

Immerse yourself

by Erin Moreno

Registration for Spring 2018 is almost here, and I want to tell you why you really, really need to sign up for an immersive-learning class.

ORIGIN STORY

My sophomore year,  I signed up for a 15-credit hour immersive-learning experience taught by a Religious Studies faculty member. I was an English Education major, and until then, I’d been following the path that my freshman advisor had laid out for me.

In order to get into the class, I had to apply and be accepted, and then meet with the department heads of English, Education, and Sociology (my minor) to figure out how the experience could be applied toward the classes I needed to graduate. A bunch of meetings later, I was heading to the Virginia Ball Center for the Representing Religion in Comics seminar.

BEGINNINGS

That semester was one of the most formative experiences of my collegiate career. I collaborated and learned from 12 other students from different disciplines (Religious Studies, Biology, Creative Writing, Fine Arts, Animation) as well as our faculty advisor who really let us lead the class ourselves. We gained experience and skills in leadership, creative writing, art, and technology (I created and drew my entire comic by teaching myself Adobe Photoshop).

Continue reading

The “Grand” Challenge of Dublin

by Amanda Belcher

How I Got to Ireland

Last year, I was in a Shakespeare class when a girl named Hayley came to talk about the opportunity to travel with a program called CAPA to Ireland the following summer.

Having strong Irish heritage on both sides of my family, I’d heard so many stories about the country and have always wanted to go myself.

I sat there, entranced by stories of the Cliffs of Moher and incredibly green landscapes, and knew I wanted to have that experience.

Getting there took a lot of work – several scholarship applications and fundraising efforts — and there were times I thought I wouldn’t make it, but on May 14, 2017, I was on a plane headed to another country for the first time in my life.

Continue reading