By: Thomas Moore, Staff Writer
William Faulkner writes in “As I Lay Dying,” “If a story is in you, it has got to come out.” Much too often, I come across people on campus writing blog posts, articles or stories in isolation. Perhaps it is a result of the characteristic introversion that so often accompanies creative outlets, or maybe people are scared to be judged by their peers. At the end of the day, I think it comes down to the fact that most people are simply unaware of the opportunities at Furman to not only improve one’s writing but also share in creative expression across campus. The Echo is one of these opportunities.
You will often hear that “Furman is what you make of it.” Fortunately, this is true! Furman gives its students valuable ways of getting published and improving as a writer. There is an entire network of support to not only give voice to students and share their stories, but also to help writers achieve their potential.
Consider for a moment the Rick Riordan, bestselling author of the “Percy Jackson” series. He told his story: “My eighth grade teacher, Mrs. Pabst, had done her master’s thesis on Tolkien. She showed me how the trilogy was patterned after Norse mythology. She was also the first person to encourage me to submit stories for publication. The idea of writing a fantasy based on myths never left me, and many years later, this would lead me to write Percy Jackson.” Riordan shows that if people are not aware of ways to publish or encouraged to seek them out, how will they grace the world with their stories?
One way becoming a published author is to have a piece published in The Echo, Furman’s annual literary and visual arts magazine. Each year, many short stories, poems and art pieces are sent in to be reviewed for publication by the editorial board. The Echo is published with collected works in the spring, so there is plenty of time to start writing now. You can also send in something you have already written! There are many authors in the woodwork waiting to come out of hiding. Diamonds in the rough are not just accepted, they are encouraged.
Another advantage of Furman is that it offers avenues to improve your writing ability. Paladin Ink, the writing club on campus, is a great way to get involved with workshops. There, students can bounce ideas off of people, learn distinct writing styles from others and practice new methods.
The Writing and Media Lab in the library is also a great resource. There, you can get help with both creative and academic writing. Yes, it can improve your grades, but it can also hone your creative skills as well. This is a great resource, especially considering the English Department’s new creative writing track.
This week, Furman University Student Activities Board (FUSAB) also sponsored the CLP (Cultural Life Program) Local Poetry Night. Sponsored The event offered exclusive readings and a panel discussion for questions with three Greenville poets: Arthur McMaster, Claire Bateman and Terri McCord. Prospective writers need to keep an eye out for events such as this to further their engagement with the creative community here in Greenville.
Ultimately, it is a tragedy for people not to share their talent and stories. In his autobiography, “My Life,” Bill Clinton writes, “Perhaps most important, I learned that everyone has a story—of dreams and nightmares, hope and heartache, love and loss, courage and fear, sacrifice and selfishness. All my life I’ve been interested in other people’s stories. I wanted to know them, understand them, feel them.” Well, to all you talented writers in the wood work, I say the same. Your voice needs to be heard, your story and name known. But in order to do that, you must take advantage of the opportunities you have. Now that you know them, they are yours for the taking.