Creative writing often serves as an outlet of expression. Many authors use fiction, poetry and nonfiction alike to explore their imaginations, their world and even their interior selves. The act of writing can be a powerful tool of retelling and reclaiming narratives, of remembering stories and of creating pieces that entertain and enact social change. The act of writing can also be frustrating and slow and fraught with bouts of writer’s block. However, engaging in language to tell stories—an ancient and poignant human tradition and way of understanding the world—is ultimately rewarding and draws writers back to the pen and paper again and again.
MSU’s creative writing concentration sees many students in its classes each year. Though these courses are available to students who request an override, the concentration itself requires that English students take three introductory classes, specializing in three genres. Courses offered include creative nonfiction writing, fiction writing, poetry and screenplay writing. At more advanced levels, students must attend two more genre classes to complete their concentration, further developing and polishing the skills they have already gained through the program.
Desharra Alexander-Self is an English major and in her senior year of the creative writing concentration. She said of the program, “I’m able to be exposed to multiple formats of creative writing, whether it is in advice from my instructor or just reading material created by my peers.” Most classes are set up as workshops, where a student’s piece is read and revised by fellow students. This setup cultivates a community of creative writers who are familiar with one another’s work and help one another to improve. Alexander-Self said, “I’m challenged by creative writing, in the field of advancing my own writing skills and expanding on imaginative material. I think it slowly helps me grow in understanding different perspectives and opening myself up in my work.”
Writing is, to Alexander-Self and many other creative writers, a way of empathizing with other people and understanding the world. To read and to write other perspectives demands that she work to understand them and actively place herself in the shoes of another person—whether fictional or not. Today, student writers on MSU’s campus are carrying on this age-old tradition of writing to understand, empathize with and change the world.
Rebecca Ryder is a senior studying English and creative writing. She can usually be found with a pen or paintbrush in her hand, dabbling in painting and calligraphy, and photographing her sisters for the blog they dream of running together. Follow her on Instagram at @rebwriter.