Tag Archives: Circus in Winter

Faculty reading: Cathy Day and Matt Mullins

On Thursday, February 10th, there will be a faculty reading in AJ 225 featuring Professors Cathy Day and Matt Mullins. The reading will start at 7:30, and is a great opportunity to see what your professors/peers are writing. Cathy Day is the author of Comeback Season, a memoir following the Indianapolis Colts’ Super Bowl season, and Circus in Winter, a short story collection recently adapted into a musical by the Virginia Ball Center immersive learning experience. Matt Mullins is a screenwriter, poet, and fiction writer. His work has appeared in such literary magazines as Hobart, kill author, Pleiades, Harpur Palate, and Hunger Mountain. Mullins is also an Emerging Media Fellow currently working on several experimental films and a series of interactive literature interfaces.

This event is free and open to the public, so come out and enjoy some refreshments while listening to these professors’ great work!

The Appearance of Women Writers in Magazines

Photo courtesy of Slate.com

In a recent article at Slate, Meghan O’Rourke (a former literary editor of the current affairs and culture magazine) helps bring to light the ratios of female writers to male that appear in literary magazines. The article, entitled “Women at Work,” features information compiled by VIDA, an organization created to address the need for female writers to become involved in discussing the critical reception of women’s creative writing in contemporary culture. Here is an excerpt of the article displaying a portion of said ratios:

“The New York Review of Books possessed the most skewed ratio, having published 462 pieces by men to 79 by women, or about 5.9 to 1. The New Yorker and the Atlantic and Harper’s all had ratios ranging from 2.6 to 3.6 to 1. VIDA didn’t subject Slate to its bean-counting, but last fall, Slate Books Editor Ann Hulbert did an in-house analysis. During that time, Slate had published reviews of nine novels by women and 25 by men—for a ratio of about 2.8 to 1.”

O’Rourke offers a few possibilities as to why the ratios are uneven, such as “women send fewer pitch letters to editors than men” or “the gatekeepers at publishing houses buy more books by men than women,” while making it clear that despite these possible reasons, the issue still deserves further exploration and discussion. You can read her full article here.

We would like to know your thoughts on the matter. Feel free to post in our comments section and get your own discussion going! Be safe and warm, BSU, and don’t forget to see Circus in Winter this weekend at the Muncie Civic Theatre!

Faculty Profile: A Conversation with Professor Cathy Day

Cathy Day

Cathy Day is the newest member of Ball State’s Creative Writing faculty in the Department of English.  She is the author of two books.  Her most recent work is Comeback Season: How I Learned to Play the Game of Love (Free Press, 2008), part memoir about life as a single woman and part sports story about the Indianapolis Colts Super Bowl season. Her first book was The Circus in Winter (Harcourt, 2004), a fictional history of her hometown. I had the opportunity to sit down with Professor Day and talk with about what kind of research goes into her writing, the influence of her hometown on her craft, and writing in different genres.

Since environment seems to be a great inspiration for you, can you tell us about your hometown—Peru, Indiana?

My town was winter quarters for a circus at the turn of the century. There was a guy in the town named Ben Wallace who was a livery stable owner and he got this notion to buy a circus. When the circus was sold, the people who traveled with the circus ended up settling in Peru because it was the closest thing they knew to a home. Some fairly famous circus folk that settled there ended up training their kids how to be performers, and so these kids put on a circus.

When I went to college, people would ask me where I was from and I’d tell them the story of Peru and they’d say, “Wow! That’s really interesting.” The thing about being from a town is you think it’s boring because it’s always around you. That’s been a big thing for my writing and teaching: trying to encourage people to look at the places they’re from for their material. It’s usually all there.

How did you research The Circus in Winter?

I spent the first five or six years reading circus history books. I would be inspired by a photograph or a factoid, and let the story go from there. I think fiction writers research in a very different way than nonfiction writers in that I didn’t have to feel bound by the facts. I would flip through a book or look through a microfilm for something that would catch my interest and go from there. There’s this thing a friend of mine calls “the atrophy of writing” where if you’re looking, as I did, at this massive body of information you kind of pick through it and don’t know what’s going to be interesting.  You just have to trust that the stuff that matters to you will rise to the top and the rest of it will fall away. It’s really overwhelming to look at all that stuff and think, how am I going to get all that in there? And the answer is you don’t.

CiW is being adapted as a musical by the Ball State University Department of Theatre & Dance, slated to be performed as part of their 2011-2012 season. What’s it like as an author to have your work adapted into another medium?

It’s surreal. To actually have a story that’s in your head tangible is awesome, but it’s also very weird. It’s really moving that they’ve created songs, a whole different medium to convey the themes of my book. One thing I was incredibly impressed by was that those songs were very faithful to what I was trying to say in the book. I call them the “truths of my heart,” coming out of someone’s mouth.

You also have a memoir out, Comeback Season: How I Learned to Play the Game of Love. Can you talk about your experiences writing memoir rather than fiction?

The thing I loved about writing Comeback Season was that it helped me learn to write a novel. To a certain point when you’re writing nonfiction, the plot’s already there, you just have to pick what parts to use. It’s a bit like being a documentary filmmaker and you shoot a ton of footage and then you have to go to the editing booth and figure out what to cut.

Is there anything you’d like to say to your new students at Ball State?

Ever since Circus in Winter came out I’ve been trying to come back here as often as I can to kind of give back to Indiana. When I was young, I didn’t know how to become a writer. I didn’t know how to be an artist or to live the life that I wanted because there was absolutely no one in my hometown who lived the way I wanted to live. I left for twenty years and now I want to be that person I would have loved to meet when I was a kid, to be that person to say, “That’s interesting. You should write about it.”