By Elaine Cashy
November: a month famed for turkey consuming and facial hair growing has yet another exciting theme: novel writing. Although many shy away from this intimidating task, the Denison Writers’ Club faces it head on, providing several opportunities for writers to work on their latest works throughout this autumn month.
The Writers’ Club encourages writers on campus, whether majors or not, to take advantage of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, through hosting a series of events throughout the month. Writers’ Club President Carrie Burkett ‘16, a creative writing major and classics minor, states: “NaNoWriMo is a challenge for all interested writers to get 50,000 words of a first draft down on the page during the month of November, which is about 1,666 words written each day. It’s a great way to get past your inner censor and write what you mean, or to finish your senior research.”
Prompts Master Rhiannon White ‘17, a double major in Theatre and English with a creative writing concentration whose official title is “Prompts Master, Master of Prompts, Kitten Master, Master of Kittens,” describes that although the writers share the same goal of reaching 50,000 words of a novel during NaNoWriMo, the participants work on achieving this goal in different ways: “Some people are extremely dedicated and plan out their novel in advance and finish easily. Some go a little slower.”
Participating in these events provides writers with a unique opportunity for sharing and reviewing writings in a constructive, low-pressure environment. Burkett claims, “gaining a writing community has been incredibly valuable to me, both on a creative and personal level. It’s wonderful to receive thoughtful commentary on my writing by people who know me and my writing, and to have people who are encouraging in the worst times. It’s great to have an informal audience to run ideas by before they are subjected to the eye of a workshop or a professor.”
The Writers’ Club members write a range of genres, from poetry and short fiction to long-term novels. Burkett, although views herself as a long-form fiction writer, has had the ability to experiment with a variety of ideas and prompts for poetry, nonfiction and flash fiction.
Burkett believes, “Fifteen minutes at a Writers’ Club meeting has led me far beyond horizons I thought I had.”
The Writers’ Club hosts weekly write-ins during November, which are, according to Burkett, “coffee and cookie-fueled sessions in the Presidents’ Room of the library in which we all write from 7:00-9:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, and anyone working on NaNo or senior research is welcome. When the month is over, we will celebrate a month of intense writing with something called the Night of Writing Dangerously.”
The club has also hosted events off campus, Newark and Granville libraries. In previous semesters, the club was able to go to the Ohioana Book Festival in Columbus and a local reading on Courthouse Square in Newark, and this semester the writers plan to go up to Gambier for Kenyon’s literary festival.
The Writers’ Club hosts meetings throughout the year every Monday and Wednesday in the Hibbs Library in Barney Davis at 6:00 p.m.. This is where White’s responsibilities as Prompts Master is to come up with two prompts to inspire people to write. During NaNo meetings White states, “I am trying to use more generic prompts that people might be able to incorporate into their works.”
Burkett encourages all to participate in the meetings: “Come to writers’ club! But seriously, take advantage of what we have going on here. Our writing faculty are incredibly talented, and getting to know other writing students will keep you inspired to write yourself.”
At these meetings, writers are encouraged to share what they write, although it is not mandatory, and the club works to create a community of creative writers, regardless of major, to come together and get to know each other, and share their passion for writing.
Photo Courtesy of Rhiannon White