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~Creative Writing at Longwood University~
An Education for the Working Writer
"The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake a sense of wonder in the world."

G. K. Chesterton

The Department of English and Modern Languages at Longwood University, situated in the beautiful rolling piedmont of Virginia, is pleased to now offer a concentration in Creative Writing. A staff of professional writers and readers collaborate to provide a sense of community and shared purpose among the undergraduates in our Creative Writing Program. The Creative Writing Program at Longwood functions within the English major, guaranteeing the strong foundation in literature every writer needs to pursue their craft. Introductory and advanced workshops in poetry, fiction, and drama are offered every semester, allowing the student invaluable cross-genre experience in preparation for lives as working writers.  Our program and faculty seek to offer an education that will encourage students to pursue a life of letters, a life that allows them to explore the wonder of the world through writing, whether that life leads them on to graduate study, into the workforce as a professional writer, or into the classroom as a teacher of writing. We believe in the very real service provided to a society by its working writers.

"You're a writer? No, I mean, what's your real job?"

So what is a working writer?  A working writer reads.  A working writer writes.  A working writer knows the realities of their discipline and professional field and continually develops both the knowledge and changing skills necessary to live their own life of letters, contributing through their work to their communities—societal and artistic.  Too often, students who really want to write don't pursue their passion for fear of having to answer the question above.  We believe that with access to both aesthetic and practical training, someone who wants to write can create a life that fulfills this desire to create and provide a paycheck.  Are we promising a literary miracle? Overnight success?  Getting to meet Oprah?

No. No. And No. 

What is uniquely offered by Creative Writing at Longwood are opportunities that provide both the chance to learn fundamental professional skills and get real-life experience for those students who want to pursue a life as a working writer.  Manuscript preparation, researching markets, a writer's correspondence, preparing for a public reading, and imaginative ways to handle rejection  are just some of the topics covered in courses such as Practical Issues for the Working Writer. Home to the prestigious Dos Passos Prize for Fiction, Longwood has a time-honored tradition of recognizing writers who work at their craft, creating literary lives. A strong reading series brings in nationally recognized writers for readings and sit-downs with students; recent readers included poet Peter Makuck and fiction writer and poet Terese Svoboda. But at Longwood, students don't just sit and listen; annual student readings to benefit local charities allow students to publicly share their work while beginning to understand the impact they can have on society as working artists.  The Gyre, a student-run literary publication, as well as newly debuted national literary magazine, The Dos Passos Review, for which students intern as members of the Student Editorial Board, offer students the very real experience of literary publishing. Biweekly social gatherings, The Writers' Cup, bring students and faculty together as writers, as colleagues, all, as Hemingway said, "apprentices in a craft we'll never master."

"For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing." Eugene Ionesco

Our instructors are all published authors, working writers themselves, dedicated not only to their own work but also to the vocation of teaching. Our teaching writers adhere to high artistic standards within their own work and, likewise, expect ambitious efforts from their students. Advanced workshops and independent work are encouraged. Workshops are small, a maximum of sixteen students, and student interaction is highly animated. We believe that it is our role as teaching writers to provide a balance between offering constructive criticism and providing support for student effort. Students critique each other's writing -- poems, short stories, screenplays, and plays – as well as examining exemplary works of contemporary literature, thus learning that such models are crucial to any writer's development. The integration of the Creative Writing Program and the English Department encourages students to be good analytic readers as part of their training to become complex and substantive writers.

Students normally enter the program through introductory workshops, which allows them to explore cross-genre writing in poetry, fiction, and drama. In subsequent courses students will be given the opportunity to specialize in one genre. Moving on to advanced level workshops, in a genre of their choosing, a student will begin to create a body of their own work, which will serve as their senior portfolio, tangible proof of their beginning steps on the journey to a life of letters.

And what a life it is. We hope you will consider joining us in this amazing ride. 

For more information on Creative Writing at Longwood, please contact:
Mary Carroll-Hackett
Department of English & Modern Languages
Longwood University, Farmville, VA 23909
(434) 395-2113
mcarroll@longwood.edu

"People don't choose their careers; they are engulfed by them.' John Dos Passos