Wednesday 5 March 2014

Guest Post: Sarah Towne

Hello! Thank you for stopping by to my guest post. Jennifer was so nice to invite me to be a guest on her blog today. So let’s jump in - I’m here to talk about my writing experience. I have been writing in one form or another since I was in grade school. I would write short short stories, and then I’d add illustration or make a pamphlet about a story I’d just created. I was in love with all the different templates you can find in Word -- who am I kidding, I still am! I would pick one out and just start writing. 

When I got a little older, I started writing poetry. I kept all of my poems in a spiral notebook. I didn’t write anything on the first page so that just in case someone found my notebook they would perceive the rest of the pages to be blank.

It wasn’t until college that I started studying the craft of writing. I started off college as a journalism major, but I quickly found out that I didn’t connect to that kind of writing. Out of interest, I took an intro to creative writing my second semester of freshman year, and I was hooked from there. We read and wrote poetry and short stories. I took two more poetry courses before I ever enrolled in a fiction or creative nonfiction course; I ended up taking two more fiction classes and a creative nonfiction class.

This isn’t to just show you my education in writing because as we all know you have to write in order to be a writer - you can’t just have some courses under your belt. I was legitimately interested in everything these courses had to offer - the professors exposed me to literature and authors and poets who I might not otherwise ever know about. They helped me further explore and discover the life of literature. College was also my first experience being able to sit around a large table with a group of my peers and talk seriously about characters and motive and plot progression. We weren’t just memorizing Hamlet’s soliloquy; we were dissecting it and figuring out how to incorporate iambic pentameter into our own poetry.

So - then I hit graduate school. I attended a small (small) university in the Midwest with a small and growing MFA in Creative Writing. I had several unique experiences at this school of which I’ll expand on someday, but, out of everything, I think I appreciated the opportunities I had to interact with authors.

Having been in a program like this, I can see where people would get the idea that some who come out of these programs come out as cookie cutter writers because you’ve got a pool of writers in classes for entire semesters with professors with a certain taste. Some are writing to the professor’s taste and some are writing so they don’t get slammed by the girl who sits across from you and some are writing exactly what you want to write.

Either way, if you are in a writing community of some nature where you have the chance to share your writing in front of a group of people - I recommend it in some ways, BUT you have to know, that just because someone might not like your work doesn’t mean that it isn’t good. In fact, maybe that was the biggest lesson I learned. I learned how to sit in a class of anywhere between 8 and 20 people and not say a word while they critique your work - some will love your work, some will sort of like your work, and some people won’t like your work. That’s the case with anything.

I hope you’re still with me! Because, at the end of all of this, I’ve written my first novel titled, The Other Summer Girl. The book takes place at Indiana University. The story follows Melanie Collier, a freshman at IU, through her sometimes self-induced social alienation. Melanie is not an overly shy person, but she does have some social anxieties that are perpetuated by her roommate who parties excessively. It isn’t until she meets Lleyton Harris, the Australian tennis transfer, that she becomes distracted enough to let her guard down a bit. Lleyton and Melanie hit it off, but she begins to find out about things he’s hiding from her. Lleyton turns out to be a wonderful distraction, helping Melanie finally adapt to the college life, but the question remains whether or not their relationship can live through the test of summer.

I am working hard on the sequel. I haven’t titled it yet, but it will be A Melanie Collier Novel.

I hope you’ll check out my book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and please connect with me on my social media sites! I’d love to hear from you

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