Writing House event inspires short story writing

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The 2018-2019 Writing House residents. Photo courtesy of Nora Walsh Battles (C’20).

By Katherine LeClair
Staff Writer

Pod(casts) and Pots (of Tea), a recent Writing House event led by co-director Anna Mann (C’20), allowed Sewanee students to take a break from the rigor of the week and settle into a calm mindset and write short fiction.

After making cups of tea, a handful of students gathered in the living room of the Writing House to listen to a 15-minute podcast by Julie Duffy on the topic of flash fiction. Attendees were later encouraged to write their own stories.

During her podcast, Duffy said, “They’re just, short, ambitious, daring stories…

Every word has to count. Every image has to count.” Flash fiction is typically around 1,000 words and captures a brief moment in a character’s life. It is impressionistic and is intended to leave one specific image in the reader’s mind.

Taking the advice Duffy provided in the podcast, Mann encouraged those in attendance to “write whatever you want… write a poem, start a novel.” Students then wrote poetic interpretations of a road trip to Sewanee, journal entries about a walk down the Mountain Goat Trail, and more.

During the writing portion of the event, the entire room seemed completely focused on the stories they were creating. “The whole environment, I thought, was really relaxing,” said Courtney Boucher (C’21). “Everyone was really quiet once we started writing, which was cool because there were so many people in the room.”

“I got into a better flow than usual,” said Emma Zeitler (C’20). When asked if this event was able to relieve any stress, Zeitler honestly responded “No, I’m always stressed…but tea makes everything better. Tea makes stress better.”

Since writing flash fiction does not require a great time investment, it was the perfect medium for structuring this event. It also allowed students to create art that they wouldn’t have been able to create otherwise.

Annie Corley (C’20) commented, “It’s fun for me to explore a part of my brain that doesn’t get used as often, being a biology major.” For her, flash fiction was “a way to delve into a moment of time and relive it in a way completely different from your original experience.”

Even though listening to podcasts is typically a solitary event, students seemed to enjoy the simplicity of listening to a podcast with a group of people while sipping on a cup of tea.

“I want to do more of this,” said Zeitler. “I love listening to podcasts, and I don’t listen to a lot of podcasts about writing techniques, so it was really interesting to hear [Duffy’s] perspective.”

The next Writing House event will be Trivia Night 2 on Thursday, October 4 at 7 p.m.