by Connor Buckmaster
For decades now, the study and practice of writing has been on a revolutionary roller coaster. Leaps in pedagogy surrounding college composition classes, translanguaging, and collaborative learning have changed the way college students today learn and produce writing. At the same time, the (dated) values of Standard American English, the five paragraph essay, and the thesis statement are still upheld in many pockets of American public schools. We wonder why Americans struggle to write, and there seems to be a host of answers: an inability to construct sentences, a fundamentally bad approach in teaching how to read, and a school culture which rewards surface learning and quick responses, viewing texts as inert information rather than an argument. The more and more we look, America seems to be in a literacy crisis.
by Scott MacLean
Can you name one gay superhero? I can’t. How about a wizard? Warrior? Villain? The sad fact of the matter is that I’ve read over two hundred young adult fantasy books and I know of only one that has a main character that’s gay. Now I know what you’ll say, media and literature is much more inclusive these days, which is true. According to a 2019 report done by GLAAD, the percentages of LGBTQ representation are at an all time high, and I’ll be the first to admit that it’s nice to have more options, especially in literature, but why hasn’t this translated to fantasy and other genres?
I’m glad I can watch a show like Schitts Creek or read a book like The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper, examples of quality LGBTQ stories that aren’t entirely centered on the fact that the characters are gay, but unfortunately, kids aren’t dressing up as Kurt Hummel from Glee on Halloween. They’re dressing up as Harry Potter, Daenerys Targaryen, or Harley Quinn, heroes from epic stories full of adventure.
by Edward Benkin
These have indeed been trying times. A global pandemic, a heated political environment, and social unrest have led to one of the most stressful climates in decades. In addition to the physical toll from Covid, the mental health of many have been affected in a way many Americans have never experienced in their lifetimes.
The cure? Write, write write.
There has never been a better time to sit down in front of your computer (or your desk with a pen and pad of paper) and write out everything from your feelings to whatever poetry or story ideas race across your brain. People have different ways to relieve stress, and writing for fun or writing out one’s fears or anxieties may just be the cure for the emotional trauma many have been going through in recent months.
by Erin Theresa Welsh
Publishing your own book is difficult. Actually, no, that doesn’t quite sum it up. Publishing your own book is stressful, time-consuming, and insanely difficult to achieve. Even if you get published, it is very unlikely you’ll become the next J.K. Rowling or Stephen King. Most average authors don’t make more than a regular mid-level salaried office position, and that's almost never off book sales alone.
If an author wants to get published, it takes a lot of hard work to achieve that finished, beautifully bound piece of work. Not only does an author need to write and complete a lengthy piece of work, but they then need to choose how to publish it.
by Taylor Blum
Ever since I was a child writing “books” in my third-grade class about a superhero cat that shot lasers out of its eyes, I knew I wanted to write novels. What I also learned growing up is that I enjoy acting and the comradery that forms between yourself and other actors on stage. After finally having the opportunity to act in college, alongside earning a BA in English and creative writing, I learned how these skills go hand in hand.
The most important thing I realized from my acting experience was how much dialogue affects my writing. Dialogue has always been so important to me–I can’t read something if I find the dialogue unrealistic or stiff. Honestly, the common mistakes of stiff, expository language makes me cringe and takes me out of the story. Dialogue is also something I realized is hard for writers to master. The good news is that when it comes to plays, dialogue is arguably the most important part. By reading a play, you can see how so much can be said with so little words, and by performing in a play, you become aware of your own voice and how conversations work. We’re often told in fiction classes to pay attention to conversations and to eavesdrop on people to understand how people talk, but this isn’t always manageable, and sometimes feels a bit weird to do. But when acting, it is your sole job to interpret the dialogue, to understand how to raise the subtext out of it, and even change the overall meaning of the words through your tone. This teaches you to understand when less is more in dialogue.