On the first day of Advanced Fiction, Professor Cooley asked us why we read fiction. This is one of those questions that sounds easy when you first hear it, but are actually very difficult when you really think about it. The students in the class gave very interesting answers. Some said for escape, and others said for entertainment. I said I read fiction for inspiration, but I would agree that I read for escape and entertainment as well. One activity I love doing very much is reading books with beautiful descriptions of nature (i.e. Jane Eyre, The Mill on the Floss) on my stomach with the window curtains open. Taking writing-intensive literature classes has influenced me to write great works of literature myself. Jane Eyre really influenced me to write poetic descriptions of nature and deep first-person character reflections. Charlotte Bronte uses such a strong first-person narration, a writing style which continues to be my personal favourite. This is not to say, however, that I do not enjoy third person. In fact, Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf motivated me to write in close third stream-of-consciousness form. Nevertheless, I still like both styles.
Reading for my creative writing classes is a slightly different story. When reading short stories, published and peer-written, we look at elements of craft. Nonetheless, taking creative writing classes has helped me with my literature classes. Last semester in Literature in English 3 and this semester in Major Authors in English, I put my writing hat on and analyse elements of craft such as setting, point of view, character development, and story structure. When I first found out that we were assigned to read stories by other students in Writing Fiction last semester, I rolled my eyes and thought to myself, “Oh my god, seriously?” However, I learned to suck it up and do what was expected of me as a student. Surprisingly, I ended up enjoying reading the works of other students. As to this day, I enjoy discovering the creativity of my fellow classmates. My peers write interesting stories with subjects ranging from family, fantasy, romance, and crime. I would love to discuss the specific stories written by my peers that I have liked; however, I have chosen not to because I want to protect their privacy. Reading and workshopping the stories of other students has taught me a lot about character crafting, structure, and language use. I like to be inspired by the creativity of my friends just like how I like to be inspired by the great authors of the past including but not limited to William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, and Charlotte Bronte. However, a problem I have faced with modelling after classic novels like Jane Eyre is that the teachers and students want you to write in modern English so that it is easier to understand.
This brings me to the criticism we give each other in Fiction Writing Class. When we “critique” each other’s works, it is not “mean criticism” like calling each other names such as “stupid” or “talentless,” but rather constructive criticism where we give each other advice on how to improve our stories because we want everyone to do the best that they can. Furthermore, because Adelphi has such a great group of creative writers, I think that the university should have a creative writing club and literary magazine. However, a lot of politics would have to be involved (i.e. funding, club advisement, etc.).
Similarly, when writing for The Odyssey, I like to read and share articles written by other students. This gives me an idea of what topics social media users are interested in. More importantly, I get inspired by my fellow peers. Noor Meer’s band interview articles have inspired me to interview my own professors. Sometime this semester, I plan to interview my ASL professor Carol Kearney and Expressive Sign professor Toni Sacchetti on the progression in deaf theatre all thanks to Noor Meer. Similarly, Amanda Hayman’s article “The Battle of Fanfiction: Some Authors Despise It, While Others Encourage It” inspired me to write articles on the craft of fiction has been changing and evolving. Likewise, Emily Elefonte’s article “How Advanced Technology Could Encourage Us to Follow Our Passions in the Future” inspired me to write more articles on the benefits of having a positive mindset. Sharing other people’s Odyssey articles makes me feel like a supportive member of the team. Overall, I think Adelphi University has a very strong Odyssey chapter with article topics ranging from music, social life, and politics.
To conclude, I think what makes me a stronger writer every day is reading the works of other people whether they are old or young, dead or alive.