Friday, December 14, 2007

A writing sanctuary: wish I had one of those back when

The New York Times had an interesting article on December 5 written by Alan Finder asking if colleges recruit athletes, why not recruit writers too? Professor Al Filries is doing just that at the University of Pennsylvania. I wish that a place like the Kelly Writers' House had been around when I was an undergraduate; heck, even when I went to graduate school for my English masters, a place like that would have been nice. I like the idea, as he calls it, of a place as a sandbox or incubator of ideas. We need more places like that on our campuses.

As I take a moment to reflect, I don't think I would have been the most active of students in that setting. I would not have been the shy poet, but I would certainly not have been the active sportswriter either. Probably something in between. I do enjoy writing, but I am a bit more reserved about sharing. I am betting my two readers now are asking, "what the heck? You keep a blog." Well, a blog is a different thing. What I am thinking more about is in terms of being in a workshop setting. When I was in graduate school, I took two fiction writing courses. I enjoyed them very much, but the workshop concept of presenting your fiction to a group of 25 or more people like you are in an inquisition was a bit much for me. Overall, the experience was a good one, and I discovered that I could write fiction; fiction writing was something I had never attempted before then. I thought it was something novelists and such other famous people did. I certainly did not lack imagination, so I had a chance to explore that. I am thinking now that a place like the Kelly House earlier in my academic career would have been good for me. It's a writer's sanctuary blending the formal and the informal. I came to writing pretty late I suppose. I wrote here and there, but I did not really begin to see myself as a writer until I became a teacher and started writing with my students and then my colleagues. But that is another story.

I do keep dabbling in fiction here and there. Oh, it's nothing that is bound to appear in my blogs anytime soon. I do enjoy writing in the blogs as well. The nice thing about blogging is the conversational nature; it's a casual setting, at least for me. And it is a place where I can explore a little bit of everything.

Anyhow, go read the article and see how a writing sanctuary is created and nurtured.

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