Tag Archives: fiction

A Flash Non-Fiction about Creative Writing

Creative Writing major Cecelia Westbrook describes how she found the right form.

When I declared my Creative Writing major in the fall of 2014, I considered myself a poet and nothing but a poet.

As an incoming freshman, I didn’t have much experience under my pencil. I had taken one creative writing class in high school, and enjoyed the poetry section the most. I even went out of my way to write extra poems, which made my final project grade 115/100.

Cecelia at the  launch party for Tributaries, containing her first publication, the essay “All Babies are Ugly, Except for Me (Just Ask My Uncle).” Top, Cecelia and friends with poet Kaveh Akbar.

If that is what it takes to be considered a “poet,” then I, in fact, was a poet.

Here at BSU, my English 285 class, which is the introductory creative writing course, spent a few weeks on each genre. This was my first exposure to creative non-fiction, which, it seemed to me, was basically taking experiences from your own life and writing them down for other people to read (possibly.) I didn’t know what to do with it. I don’t remember much about what I wrote for this specific course, but I do remember thinking, Can I go back to writing angsty poetry now please?

Then I took a fiction class. Yikes. I had never even considered writing a story, but here I was in this class. When I was assigned the longer piece of the semester, I found myself writing non-fiction, and then changing the details, such as names, places, and ages. When it was workshopped, I was surprised by the positive comments people made on my “fiction.” Well, maybe I should try non-fiction again.

So I did. I took a creative non-fiction class, and fell in love immediately. I finally felt like I had a way to write about emotions and experiences from the past, and still be able to reflect on them in the present. I could capture the rawness that came with life, while being able to section, braid, and form my stories. I could be as lyrical or as dry as I wanted. I could be sarcastic, humorous, serious, or melancholy; I could make my story whatever I wanted to make it. After all, I was writing about my life.

I was taking a poetry class in the same semester as the creative non-fiction class. I could see my separate writing styles for the separate genres begin to blend together. My poetry became more personal in some cases, and my non-fiction was starting to experiment with more distant points of view, like an outsider looking in. As I was realizing this shift in my writing, I also began thinking, I really wish there was a genre that combines poetry and non-fiction.

And then I took my special topics class, and the theme of the course was lyric prose (cue the angels singing). I loved writing poetry and I loved writing non-fiction, but my heart was not ready for the impact and empowerment I felt from lyric prose writing. Where have you been all my life? The lyric prose genre is like the free verse of prose. The author of lyric prose has complete agency over every aspect of the piece. There is no formula, unlike a genre such as fantasy or dystopia-based realities. It was love at first workshop.  For one assignment in this class, I chose a broad topic, “divide,” and wrote unrelated paragraphs, sentences, fragments and words about that topic, and pieced it all together. I wrote about division as a mathematical process, the Ed Sheeran album Divide, and the division between people in my life.

For a different assignment, I used a more poetic format for a more sensitive topic. The assignment was to write from a perspective completely different from our own, so I chose to write from the perspective of an abusive ex-lover. I left words on their own lines, I had a “chorus” stanza that I repeated throughout for emphasis and rhythm, and I played around with italics, bolding, and spacing of words and letters. One of the last pieces I wrote in this class was later edited and accepted for publication. To me, writing lyric prose felt comfortably challenging; the possibilities in this genre are endless, the boundaries entirely of the writer’s making.

As I reflect back on my nearly eight semesters here, I can see my growth not only as a creative writer, but also as a person. Pushing myself outside of my comfort zone led to me understanding myself more deeply. Am I still a poet? Or am I a creative non-fiction writer? Who even told me I only had to be one type of writer anyway? Now, I consider myself a writer. And that’s it. I may know my strengths, my weaknesses, and my preferred genres, but I am still learning and growing every day.

Immersive Opportunities: Gain Hands-On Experience!

Are you wondering how you can get more involved in the department? Do you want to spice up your class schedule next year? Consider one of our many immersive learning classes! Immersive learning courses provide students with hands-on, real-world experience in their field of interest.

Previous courses have included Storytelling and Social Justice, where students published a book of true stories from community members to make poverty in Delaware County more visible, and Creative Writing in the Community, where students taught writing techniques to young writers in Muncie and published a collaborative anthology.

Fall 2018 English Immersive Learning Courses:

ENG 400: Book Arts Collaborative

This community letterpress and book bindery is located in the MadJax Building in downtown Muncie. Students learn to set type and hand-bind books, and each has the opportunity to become a student manager, where they’ll learn the ins and outs of business through collaboration with community partners. To learn more, contact Prof. Rai Peterson at rai@bsu.edu.

ENG 299X: Jacket Copy Creative

Students staff this in-house marketing agency for the English Department. They manage the department’s social media accounts, blog, and annual newsletter. Students learn storytelling strategies through practices in public relations, graphic design, editing, content marketing, and more. To learn more, contact Prof. Cathy Day at cday@bsu.edu.

ENG 489: The Broken Plate

In this class, students learn firsthand the editing and publishing world, as they produce this nationally distributed literary magazine. Students field submissions in poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, screenwriting, art, and photography, and the journal is released at the annual In Print Festival of First Books. To learn more, contact Prof. Silas Hansen at schansen@bsu.edu.

ENG 400: Digital Literature Review

Students read deeply in literature, theory, and criticism on a vital topic, then produce a volume of this scholarly journal on that topic. Next year’s topic is Brave New Worlds: Utopias and Dystopias in Literature and Film. To learn more, contact Prof. Vanessa Rapatz at vlrapatz@bsu.edu.

ENG 299X: Rethinking Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Students will focus on rethinking characters in children’s and young adult literature to help shift the stigma associated with being disabled. The course culminates in the production of a comprehensive magazine/website containing resources on literature featuring disabled characters and fiction and non-fiction pieces co-created by students at BSU and the Burris Laboratory School. To learn more, contact Prof. Lyn Jones at ljones2@bsu.edu.

 

In Print Author: Nick White

At the end of this month, the Ball State creative writing program will host its annual In Print Festival of First Books, a two-day event featuring a reading and panel discussion by writers who have just published their first books, as well as an editor from a small press or literary journal.

In anticipation of this event, we have prepared a series of blog posts highlighting each of the writers whose work will be presented at the festival. This week’s subject: fiction writer Nick White.

Nick’s Official Bio

Nick White is the author of the novel How to Survive a Summer. A native of Mississippi, he teaches creative writing at Ohio State University. His fiction and essays have appeared in The Kenyon Review, Guernica, The Hopkins Review, LitHub, Poets & Writers, and elsewhere. His short story collection, Sweet and Low, will be published in the summer of 2018.

Selected Interviews

Fiction

Essays

Event Details

Nick will be joined at the 2018 In Print Festival of First Books by poet Carolina Ebeid, nonfiction writer Jan Shoemaker, and editor Kristen Elias Rowley.

Nick White will also be visiting Professor Sean Lovelace’s ENG 407 class:

  • Thursday, 03/29, 3:30-4:45 in Robert Bell, Room 361

All In Print events are free and open to the public, but contact Prof. Lovelace in advance if you want to sit in on  his class.

Professor Craig O’Hara nominated for Pushcart

by Melissa Glidden

Assistant Professor Craig O’Hara’s short story “The Corner” was published by the North Dakota Quarterly in 2013, and nominated for a Pushcart Prize shortly after. In this interview. O’Hara discusses his work, his nomination, and the writing life.

 1. Will you tell us a little bit about “The Corner,” including the inspiration behind it and a little bit about your process while writing it?

“The Corner” is about a prostitute in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam waiting on a Saturday evening for a client of hers who happens to be an American expatriate. The inspiration behind the story came out of the somewhat rough neighborhood I lived in during my time teaching in Vietnam. I know it sounds kind of strange, but sex workers were just a normal part of the community in which I lived. They were among my neighbors and the people I interacted with every day. They were the people I saw while going to the market or having lunch at the food stalls across the street. They were regular people like anyone else in the neighborhood. Continue reading

Interns Tyler Fields and Nakkia Patrick Interview Andrew Scott About His New Book, Naked Summer

Last year, editor, author, and BSU English professor Andrew Scott released a brand new book, Naked Summer: Stories. In honor of this wonderful achievement, interns Tyler Fields and Nakkia Patrick interview him to discuss various aspects of his new book as well as his publishing process, future plans, and his writing inspirations. See the interview and Andrew’s short bio below.

*Photo provided by Andrew Scott

Andrew Scott is the author of Naked Summer, a story collection, and the editor of a forthcoming anthology, 24 Bar Blues: Two Dozen Tales of Bars, Booze, and the Blues. He holds writing degrees from Purdue University and New Mexico State University, where he was twice awarded a Frank Waters Fiction Fellowship. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Esquire, Ninth Letter, The Cincinnati Review, Mid-American Review, Glimmer Train Stories, The Writer’s Chronicle, and other publications. With his wife, writer Victoria Barrett, he edits Freight Stories, an online fiction journal. He teaches at Ball State University and lives in Indianapolis.

Continue reading

Poetry reading: Peter Davis, Michael Meyerhofer, Jared Sexton, and Todd McKinney

Tonight there will be a poetry reading starring BSU faculty Peter Davis, Michael Meyerhofer, Jared Sexton, and Todd McKinney. The reading will take place at Motini’s in Muncie’s village area, which is a 21+ venue. The event starts at 7:30 p.m. and looks to be a great time. It’s always fun to hear your BSU professors’ own work, so come on out!