Connection via Language

My trip home from residency usually takes anywhere from 5 to 8 hours, depending on connection times. Over the years, I’ve come to look forward to my plane rides as important transition time, allowing me several hours of limbo to catch up on email, get reacquainted with my calendar, read, write, or just space out, letting all the events and exchanges of the previous ten days drift through my mind, settling into their resting places in my memory.

This time, on my way home, I spent much of my flight from Omaha to Chicago writing in my journal. I started writing as the plane was still boarding, and only looked up for a polite moment when a woman sat down beside me. We rode together in silence for the first half of the flight; she read a magazine, I wrote, each in our own carefully-observed space. Until I hit a lull in my sentence-making and lifted my head.

“Are you a journaler or a writer?” she asked.

“Both,” I replied. And her face lit up. She went on to tell me about a book she’d started writing years earlier about her adopted daughter, but hadn’t yet been able to finish. I told her about our MFA program, and she glowed still brighter. The very idea that people took time out of their lives to pursue this particular passion—even that someone would use a plane ride to write—was inspiring news for her.

If you’ve been prioritizing writing in your life for a long time, her reaction might seem overblown. It felt that way to me at first. I was just blathering on in my journal, after all, writing nothing of consequence. But I realized later that her reaction was a demonstration of how vital the act of writing can be. Very few people get the time to prioritize it, to make it part of their daily working lives. Those of us who do are lucky.

Once again, doing the writing reminded me of why I do it. The sheer act of translating experience into words, in public, shattered a wall of politeness and built a bridge instead. We learned each other’s names (hers was Shelli). I gave her my card, and we promised to keep in touch. Connection via language. Isn’t this what writing is?


Amy Hassinger

Hey, It Could Happen

This is how I’m imagining it: last night on Air Force One, after the President of the United States tired of listening to his aides discuss this and that for far longer than a lame duck president should have to listen, the POTUS stood up and stretched his tall, lanky body toward the ceiling of the jet’s briefing room. He’s tall enough to touch the ceiling and there are faint marks there of his handprints. The cleaning staff can’t bear to wash them away and the people in charge of “important” stuff don’t look up at the actual ceiling often, what with their focus on the horizon, so the marks stay, a secret the workers share amongst themselves.

Just as the POTUS turns toward his sleeping quarters, yawning as he goes, another aide comes in with the gift the Governor of Nebraska had handed him earlier in the day – a book, now processed according to protocol of the Federal Protocol Gift Unit policies, a book, now listed in the Daily Journal of the United States Government, a book written by an obscure author from Nebraska. The Governor didn’t have to read the book before he gave it, as many people who read many books had vetted it. He had received his copy just that morning when he signed the proclamation declaring said book the 2016 One Book One Nebraska selection. (I’m still working on the part of this fantasy where the book actually changed hands.)

Anyway, the POTUS takes the book and glances at the cover. It’s a nice cover, the photograph of storm clouds on the horizon compelling, as is the title, The Meaning of Names. He’s tired though so he doesn’t think he’ll read tonight. Still, it’s such a nice looking book, maybe just a sentence or two. “When Gerda was five, her older sister came home to die. No, not to die, to give birth, but dying is what she did.”

The POTUS has a soft spot in his heart for women and their stories, as many men raised by and married to strong women often do, and so he decides to read a couple of more sentences just to see what’s up.

At 2:06 a.m. President Obama shuts off his bedside lamp. Michelle will like this book, he thinks, as he dozes off. It’s not just about Nebraska, he will tell her, it’s about the grit and integrity of the American people, about the dangers of “othering” people from different backgrounds, about facing dangers and the importance of families and communities. Just read it, he will tell her. You’ll love it. I know I did.

A girl can dream, can’t she?

Parts of this fantasy are true. On January 13, 2016, Governor Pete Ricketts did sign a proclamation declaring my novel The Meaning of Names the One Book One Nebraska for 2016; At the Proclamation ceremony (a three to five minute event in a line of several proclamation signings) I did have the chutzpah to not only give the governor a signed copy of the novel, but also to offer another copy for him to give to President Obama when he greeted him in Omaha later in the day. I didn’t plan it. I just did it.

My inscriptions in both books were scribbled quickly and I can only hope they were coherent, or illegible if they weren’t. It was a rash decision that may yield nothing more than a whole lot of fun among my writing community. A journalist friend has already published a column about the experience, summarizing my Facebook posts wherein I bemoan being stood up by the governor who ditched me for the POTUS, only to be surprised that he didn’t ditch me and instead gave me a grand opportunity put a copy of my book into Obama’s hands. I told her I hadn’t stopped laughing and smiling all day after I handed the governor the books.

How can I not smile about this? Think about it, the president, a Democrat, and the Nebraska governor, a Republican, may, just may, have a copy of the same book on their bedside table. At the UNO MFAW residencies I’ve given more lectures on the importance of working together than I’ve given on any other topic. Sure, I give the lectures different titles, but basically I keep hammering that same theme. We rise or fall together, I say. The purpose of art is to push back the darkness, I say again and again.

The books I handed the governor yesterday weren’t just my books, they were gifts of peace, of connection. I hope those small sheaves of paper and ink are up to the true and mighty task I dream for them.


Karen Shoemaker

Like Michael Oatman UNO MFA faculty member pictured here, we should all reach for the sky

Michael Oatman

Michael Oatman

Why start an MFA program?

Why start anything? A love affair, cooking school, martial arts, mountain climbing, spelunking, photography, why start making love, the world might end and you might not get to finish, or you might find that you’re not as good at it as you hoped you’d be. Or you find that there are others getting famous while you’re still cave diving in a thoroughly amateurish manner for months, maybe years.  We start writing programs because it’s a journey we want to take.  Because we want to start walking down a road, learning an activity that we might take years to get good at.

Among the many courses I took in college were: French, Spanish, horseback riding (seriously) dance (four years) theatre, astronomy (I was in love with Carl Sagan).  Of all of those, the most useful has been the Spanish.  But I’ve never regretted any of those.  I still ride horses, speak French, dance, (not as well as Amy Hassinger) love plays, and when I get out of the city, and I look  up at the stars, I can name them like old friends staring down on me just as they did when I grew up in the woods of New Hampshire and I could see the whole Milky Way and I used to say to myself, I am going to do something amazing in this galaxy not having a single clue how small I was.

When I started to take writing courses, I sucked and I continued to suck long after I graduated with a Master’s in writing, I continued to write a lot of really bad stuff, and I enjoyed the heck out of it.  I enjoyed getting my writing muscles going, swimming around in language and getting to read some big writers.  When I started, I was reading mostly science fiction.  My teachers said no to science fiction.  They told me to read Hemingway who I liked very much and I even went hiking in the woods and tried to imagine myself as a Nicola Adams, I liked reading all of it, even the big white male writers stomping around in the world.  I was so excited to be part of it.  I didn’t learn to be a writer in graduate school, I didn’t learn till later, but I was given the tools that would carry me forward into my future writing life.  When I graduated, that life stretched before me like blue hills to the horizon.  That’s why you start an MFA, to begin a journey, like learning to enter the caves of the imagination.  At first, it’s wet and dark and cold down there, and that’s all you notice and then your eyes adjust and you see that you’re inside a big story.

Read Bhanu Kapil’s response to MFA programs, you’ll like what she has to say as well.


Kate Gale

This post originally appeared on Kate Gale: A Mind Never Dormant.

Catapults v. Curtains — Girl Books and Boy Books

Before my husband and I left for a writing vacation in Spain, we had dinner with Ron Carlson and went over our summer reading lists. We discussed Lila by Marilyn Robinson, but I couldn’t imagine either man reading it. My friend Jim Tilley, sure, but Jim’s an animal, he’ll read any smart book, but Ron and Mark, I was pretty sure wouldn’t make it through Lila which is very much a “woman’s book”. I read Elena Ferrante’s book, My Brilliant Friend the first week of the trip. It was fun, but I cannot imagine a man reading it. Like Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood, it gives us a world of girls. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See gives us that girl world in China. Women love these stories.

At the grocery store book level, women tend to read romances while men read action stories, but that’s a reduction of the idea that women crave romance while men crave adventure, stories that happen against a big backdrop. Women live big lives outside the house now, so how does the split in literary reading continue? Angela Merkel is arguably the most important leader in Europe and America’s on the verge of having a woman president. How are we in the 21st century still stuck in gendered reading habits?

As an editor, you think about who the audience is. Who is going to read this book? The answer when it comes to novels is that women tend to read books by women and men read books by men; however, more women will venture into male territory than visa versa.

Women read because the story itself interests us, because the lilt of the language is familiar, and because it feels like the writer is talking to us. Toni Morrison, Marilynne Robinson, Margaret Atwood are all writing stories I can walk around in and hear my heart beating.

Most men would rather read Cormac McCarthy. When I hear a man say that he loves David Foster Wallace, Michael Chabon and Dave Eggers, I glaze over. I know they probably like Pynchon too. WASP with dough and gym time? I think. Let’s write about being a junkie, being fucked up and let’s make it sound male and pathetic and narcissistic but cool at the same time, and I want to scream, Hunter S. Thompson did it so much better. Men who’ve never had a problem their daddy’s money couldn’t solve usually love these books. I want them to read Razor’s Edge, now there’s a book about living without Daddy’s money, but Maugham isn’t clever enough for these boys. But let’s get back to what men read and what women read.

Men like a story where something is actually happening, where something is going on, not just talk, talk, talk. They get enough of that at home. They need a break. It doesn’t have to be fireballs and car chases, that’s in their favorite movies. Even in a thinking man’s book, something needs to happen. I peeked into my husband’s book bag, and I saw a little stack of Murakami, Marquez and because he’s a cerebral guy as well a smattering of Calvino. He likes a knife appearing in his stories; he perks right up then, somebody is going to do something bad in this book! Elena Ferrante would make him scream. What are these little girls doing wandering around the town square? That’s a story? Give me guns. Cars. Chainsaws. Something falling or being blown up. Big stuff. Big and men go together. Something needs to happen, a big mashup otherwise why did we come to the racetrack?

There are stories that cross gender lines. I read Dave Eggers The Circle on the train through Spain and then read all the reviews bashing it, saying that he didn’t get it right. But he did. He’s writing about all of us in the electronic world who have to tell everyone about every little thing we do. All of us who can’t unplug. Who can’t bear to let a minute go by without checking in. It’s a brilliant book. Everyone should read it and then ask themselves why they don’t kayak more.

My phone was stolen my first night of this trip and because I couldn’t check in, couldn’t post pics on Facebook, the whole trip has been a lot better. When I did post, it was about what I was reading and thinking and doing and I mostly just read and had the experience. The Circle is an example of a book men and women could equally enjoy. It’s a dystopian novel about what’s wrong with our culture crouched around a viewer screen as if it were the first campfire at the beginning of the world. Other examples of books either gender could read are Ron Carlson’s A Kind of Flying, T.C. Boyle’s The Women or Water Music, George Saunders The Tenth of December, Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky, The Diary of Anne Frank, Citizen by Claudia Rankine, Ian McKuen and Somerset Maugham, Doris Lessing’s short stories, but most novels lean fiercely into the gender binary.

We as readers will have bigger ideas if we lean as far out of our comfort zone as we can. We won’t discover what’s possible until we stretch past the edges. The best books might be surprises. Online dating hooks us up to a carefully collated version of what we think we’d like, but the best relationships aren’t like that at all, you find your way forward in the dark and you suddenly fall in love with someone who sees you as you wish you could see yourself. Try a story outside your reading comfort zone; you might find yourself part of something that like Alice in Wonderland is both bigger and smaller than you ever imagined. “I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”


Kate Gale

This piece originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

It All Begins With a Dream

A year ago my Grandfather passed away. It was tragic. Death always is. But through meeting all this family that only remembered me when I was young and sweet, I met someone who started a dream of mine. I am currently living that dream.

Jody Keisner found out that one of my hair pulling dreams is to obtain a Masters in English Creative Writing, more specifically, Fiction Writing. At my Grandpa’s funeral, she came over and apologized for my loss and then started talking about my fiction writing. She talked about this MFA program out of UNO like it was the whip cream on top of a sundae, the best part. I shrugged her off and went back to wallowing in my sorrows.

A few weeks later MFA and UNO kept finding their way into my thoughts; I thought I was going crazy for awhile. They whispered their way into my life. Finally I got quite annoyed with my psyche and sat down to explore what this thing was all about. Soon I found it was a low-residency program.

This made it seem unattainable. I’m a mom; I can’t take nine days out of my life, my job, and away from my child, no matter how sweet the program is. But UNO and MFA kept whispering their names in the back of my mind. They drove me nuts.

Finally the time came to apply and make decisions. I applied for the Iowa Writers Workshop, because you can’t be a writer and not apply to the program that everyone talks about, UNK, and then last but not least the pesky UNO MFA program.

As time when on last semester, UNO and MFA kept appearing in my head, and on my Facebook page. I swear to you. This thing was haunting me. It was driving me nuts. I had it in my head that I was going to attend UNK for a Masters in Creative writing, and then I would maybe, only if money allowed, get an MFA.

Well, I heard from UNO and the director, Jenna, was really pushing for an answer. Telling me that this was the right choice. I kept telling her I wasn’t sure because I had never heard back from UNK as to whether I could teach and specifics on that program. So I lay down one night. In my mind I weighed the pros and cons of each school.

I lay there and thought about my Grandpa, and how proud he would be of me to just be lying here and be making a decision about Graduate School. I thought about how I found out about this program–at his funeral. A voice in my head told me to “just do it.”

I walked in for orientation, and was greeted with open arms. I was engulfed in love, appreciation, and acceptance. I was brought under the arms of some of the 4th semester and graduating students. The first time I met Jenna, she shook my hand and engulfed me in the love of a truly caring director. This love is what makes being here nine days in a row not overwhelming, or boring, or over the top. I’ve been here six days and already I feel like I have another family. And I do. I have met the beginnings of what will build and build to be known as my writing family.

Here I am, sitting in my hotel room, taking in what seems like a dream, but I know this is right where I am supposed to be. I am appreciated, loved, and free here. This is where Grandpa wanted me to go. I was just too stubborn to take the hints.

I also was offered a scholarship to be a Resident Assistant; this scholarship pays me in full room and board to be Jenna’s right hand man. I cannot even begin to describe my thrill for this little bit of money and the opportunity to work side by side the one person that gave me the push, the little incentive I needed to make a decision, and follow the pesky voices in my head. This scholarship not only adds to my resume, but it also adds to the line of people and things telling me that I can’t give up until I achieve this dream.

I am so thankful for being 20 years old, attending Graduate School, Facetiming my son every night, and be somewhere where I am not a nerd, but rather a peer. I’m making memories, embracing the awkwardness, and for the first time in the past year I know Grandpa is standing beside Jesus looking down on me saying “Look, that’s my grandbaby.”

Elizabeth Sorgenfrei
This post originally appeared on Elizabeth’s blog, Single Mama Tackling Her Dreams

The act of writing

Last week, I lost a friend and colleague to a catastrophic cerebral hemorrhage. Once her family members accepted that her consciousness, speech and mobility would never return, they collectively agreed to withdraw life support. Within hours, she peacefully died, surrounded by those who love her most.

This event re-iterated my intended compulsion to live fully present in this minute and this day. Having had a glimpse of mortality with a post-of bleed, I know my life has an expiration date. I have core values which guide my living and I am clear about my priorities: being in right relationship with those I love and making meaning and fun from my life experiences, day in and day out. Even so, it is interesting how I, and others, consistently lose track of that which is most important and become entangled with trivial tasks, dread and worry more often than I choose. Some of this entangling is due to the hard wiring of our brainstem, the antidote to which is increasingly popular practices of mindfulness.

As a writer, I have learned the act of writing is the strongest enhancement, for me, to live the life I want to live and think the thoughts I prefer to entertain. And when I say the act of writing, I’m not talking about cathartic journaling but I’m referring to sculpting a poem or drafting an essay or narrative.

As writers, we enjoy an asset of harvesting meaning and perspective on matters from our lives. This asset contributes positively to our overall health and well being.


Molly O’Dell

Big Dreams and Little Dreams

We all have dreams.  But we are often fearful about voicing them, fearful even about thinking about them. If we dare to dream, it is all the more hurtful if what we wish for does not come to pass, and we don’t want to be hurt. And perhaps, deep down, we may think we are too ordinary, too old, too burdened down with responsibility for the dream to come true for us. We question our worthiness. Who are we anyway to dream such glorious dreams?  But let’s not think that way. The universe wants wonderful things for us. Let’s allow ourselves to dream.

What are your writing dreams?  Do you want to write a mystery novel? A mainstream best-seller? Maybe you want to write a series of short stories or publish a travel guide. Dreaming, yearning, desiring is part of what it means to be human. “To be what can be is purpose in life,” Cynthia Ozick said. Margaret Deland went on to say that “One must desire something to be alive.” And to be truly, exquisitely alive, we must want something so badly we can taste it. We must also keep true to our wishes and hopes in life and work towards realizing them.

As writers, I believe that our dreams are especially wonderful ones, but they do not easily come to pass. “Nothing worthwhile comes easy,” the old saying goes. That is certainly true in the writing life.  And since it can be a long hard road working and waiting for what we yearn for to be realized, I love the idea of working towards lots of dreams—big dreams and little dreams, middle-sized ones too. Maybe we call these goals or objectives, but these are really dreams. So along with our big dreams of writing an award winning mystery or publishing a textbook, we might also work on other goals at the same time. Submit an article to a magazine, write a letter to the editor, try your hand at poetry. If you find that fulfilling, write a series of poems, and submit them for publication. Why not? Are you a science fiction writer who also delights in the joys of home winemaking? Consider writing an article—or even a book–about that. Don’t count anything out. Let your mind open to the possibilities around you and see what happens.

I believe in dreams come true, but I also believe they can come true in ways we do not imagine. My husband, Tom, loved bluegrass music, and wanted to learn to play the banjo. But while waiting for repairs on the broken-down banjo he inherited, he started taking guitar lessons. Then he moved on to the banjo, and because that is a difficult instrument, (and it sounded fun) he cross-trained on the mandolin. So it can be in the writing life, too. We may start out writing poetry and then develop an interest in fiction or non-fiction. Our growing expertise in one area leads to advancement in another.

Again, let’s ask the question—what are your writing dreams and goals? Why not widen them, expand them, let the universe work its magic with the seeds of hope within. Dream big. But dream pint-sized and medium-sized too.  Those little goals have a way of growing and developing in ways that can enrich your life.

Exercise for Writing and Living Creatively:

  1. Brainstorm, writing as quickly as possible your first thoughts to complete the following sentences. Include big ideas and little ones, making a list of as many dreams as possible.
  • I have always wanted to _____________________
  • I would like to try my hand at _________________

Now, select one or two of the items from the list, and take the first step towards making it happen.  Remember, dreams do come true; the first step is to dream them.


Lucy Adkins

“This is the community I belong to.”

2005 to 2015. Ten years. A decade. That’s how long it’s been since we welcomed the first group of students and faculty into the newly-minted low-residency MFA in Writing program at UNO.

I remember the afternoon of the first day I walked through the front doors of the Lied Lodge and Conference Center to greet the inaugural class of twelve students and to meet with the ten new faculty, a couple of whom I knew then only through correspondence. As I stood in the cavernous entryway looking across the lobby at that monolithic stone fireplace looming behind the wide descending staircase to meeting rooms below, I thought, “My god, what am I entering, the Temple of The Hallowed Word?” Our dear Associate Director, Jenna Lucas, with whom I had met for three and a half years constructing the program on paper, sensed my nervousness and, because she had graduated from another low-residency MFA program and knew how the magic worked, said quietly, “Wait until you see what we have wrought.” And sure enough, in that first evening when new faculty and students sat down to dine together, there seemed to emerge instantly a bond between everyone as writers with a common desire, and they had found their home.

During the years before I’d reached my own first decade in grade school, I recall that each year of my single-digit age passed with the plodding deliberateness of a decade, and that carefree summer months away from school and my friends there seemed to crawl under the weight of a whole year. Time in general moved at a slothful pace, and a year was a generational chasm separating me from those even a grade ahead of me or behind me. Now, however, well into my seventies, I am aware of the phenomenon of temporal acceleration. A year gallops as swiftly as a month, and these ten years have gone by so rapidly I must force myself to backtrack in my mind to reconstruct the major landmarks we have passed along the way to this celebratory moment.

Even now, on the tenth anniversary of our program, I find myself having to stop and recalculate how far back in time it truly has been since that inaugural group of twelve students and ten faculty members met each other. For those of you who were not among us then, imagine what it must have felt like for me to experience the moment a nascent graduate program bore itself off the pages of curriculum proposals and projected budget plans, through the peristaltic labor of bureaucratic academic approvals over four long years, until its miraculous metamorphosis into that first congregation of twenty-two flesh-and-blood humans who traveled to Nebraska City from all across the country, led by their common aspirations to exploit their individual talents as writers. When they walked through the great front doors of the Lied, they arrived with little more than the paper promise of a life-altering experience and the realization that their dreams were still two more years away from reaching fruition.

I couldn’t be prouder of that first group of students and faculty who took the risk with us when we congregated for the first time on our hospitable Lied “campus” in August of 2005 and we looked each other over during the first meal we shared together in the dining room, and we recognized in our hearts that “Yes, I was right. This is where I need to be. This is the community I belong to.”

What courage. What trust. What a gamble.

For the past ten years, nearly every semester has been a series of first time events, and each graduating class of students has completed a leg of a journey neither they nor the program has traveled on before. This July is a benchmark in the academic and artistic history of creative writing at UNO as yet ten more graduates earn their Master of Fine Arts degrees for literary achievement. Their substantial progress in the program, their accomplishments in their artistic growth, has been nothing short of extraordinary. The awarding of their degrees from the University of Nebraska is just an emblem signifying the enormity of what they have accomplished over the two years of their intense study. The faculty of the program, all accomplished writers who have mentored them through their studies, have certified that every member of this graduating class has achieved a level of mastery over their art and craft worthy of the designation of Master of Fine Arts.

Currently the program has grown to twenty faculty mentors, all who provide input into the artistic direction for the program through the substantial investment of their time and energy in their students. Beginning in 2005 with the traditional offering of major tracks in Fiction, Creative Nonfiction and Poetry, we entered the company of a few select programs offering low-residency, individually mentored instruction and guidance for non-traditional students. In the past four years alone, we have added to our literary arsenal of creative disciplines with a Playwriting track and an emphasis in Young Adult Fiction. And there is “backroom talk” of exploring the possibility for combining Screenwriting with Playwriting for a Dramatic Writing track. (Screenwriting in the heart of the heart of the country? Hmm. Keep an ear to the ground for the results of discussion about that!).

And hey! What about our reach in recent residences beyond the walls of the Lied meeting rooms to include a wider variety of visitors and alums presented through our new “satellite” distance lectures and readings brought to us through the magic of digital conferencing?

This past year has seen the approval by the University of two new MFA courses for post-graduate study: an Enrichment Residency and an Enrichment Distance Seminar. Both courses are open to anyone with an MFA in writing degree, and will open the MFA experience to graduates wishing to refresh and recharge themselves in the energy of a residency session, and to offer those with a desire to pursue a mentored semester of new writing or work with that mentor they never got to experience during their degree studies.

The point is, because of the strong and vibrant family of writers, teachers and editors that have come out of the UNO MFA in Writing program and who remain involved with one another, the potential for an expanding vision for the program is strong. This is just the beginning!

Congratulations to all of you who have made our first ten years a roaring success. Come back to us as often as you are willing and able to continue developing as artists in a close-knit circle of writers.

Warmest regards,

Richard Duggin

Mike Corum

Mike CorumWe are so sad that our very own Mike Corum passed away on January 13, 2014. As many of you know, he had been battling pancreatic cancer. His wife, Jaxine, wrote to us: “Mike has passed on to another life to write poetry with all the poets of the past! Loved this man and loved his passion to write and create. Thanks for all your influence, encouragement and friendship given to Mike for something he loved so much.”

More information can be found here.

Time To Write, Time To Right

Every few months I have a crisis. Whether it’s an existential one or a melodramatic one, it happens nonetheless. Most people might seek professional help or prescribed medication, but talking to strangers and doping myself up with mood relaxers have never been particular interests of mine. I deal with this so-called existence of mine by writing. It might seem too simple or too easy to fix my many problems related to death, fear, failure, and loneliness, but the truth of the matter is that yes, writing is the only thing that can truly help a person deal with their demons.

For writers like my classmates and myself, writing is an unconscious activity. We could do it in our sleep and in fact, sometimes we do, but why is it that for the average person writing is considered a chore when it could prevent a depressed, stressed, or possibly even mad person deal with their problems in ways they have never even considered?

The answer is that everyone is so damn afraid to be honest, to say what they really mean. With writing, you can tell the truth, you can use words and language to state exactly what your mind wants to say. Stop writing off writing as a pedantic activity. You don’t have to be an ivy league graduate to write something intelligent, something sincere.

To paraphrase J.D. Salinger, “I’m not writing for the critics; I am writing for myself.”  Whether you want to share your writing with the world or you only want to keep your writing to yourself, put your thoughts down. Go back and re-read it all. Learn from your mistakes. Go out and make new ones. Write down everything you can think of and then go write some more. It’s therapeutic and it will help you.

Writing is important and ignoring it won’t make it go away. Don’t let the man get you down and even if he does, write about it. Fill notebook after notebook with complaints, poems, stories, and desires. Release the crisis from your body before it has the chance to take you over. Whether you are feeling too much or not enough at all, purge it all onto the keyboard or through your favorite pen. I promise you’ll feel much better, if only for a few moments.


Stacey Renberg