by NICK BUCHANAN
At roughly 10 years old, Tiffin University’s creative writing program seems like a mere infant in comparison to the school’s 127 years of history. Not to worry, though: it has matured quickly.
“We have a surprisingly good creative writing program for a program that’s really just started,” said English professor Dr. Vincent Moore. “We’re putting out some things that programs that have been in place for decades have been doing, but we’ve been doing it in no time at all.”
TU offers creative writing as an undergraduate minor and a concentration in the Master of Humanities graduate program. In addition, TU boasts the Dragon Writers Guild, an extra-curricular group with a passion for writing. Many of the university’s creative writers have the chance to be featured in on-campus publications like the TU Review arts journal and the Tystenac student newspaper.
Though writing intensive, these courses stand out from the rest: The writing done in the four undergraduate workshops carries a less rigid format. In Dr. Moore’s classes, students learn by writing from a blend of their own imaginations and personal experiences.
“For some reason, one year [in a short story workshop], everyone was writing horror stories and zombie stories,” said Dr. Moore. “You’re going to learn the skills of putting together a short story or a novel if you’re writing about zombies or if you’re writing about divorce. If it’s literary coming-of-age or a spy novel, it’s still the same mechanics, and once you master those, then you can start working on the great American novel or the next Twilight. […] When it’s your own story, poem, or novel, it gets more personal [than a regular essay].”
One graduate workshop requires students to write their own 50,000-word novel. It is a lot of writing, indeed, but sometimes, this assignments ends with more than a mark in the grade book: Some of Dr. Moore’s students have had their homework published via both publishing houses and self-publishing.
Jennifer Howard, who earned her Master of Humanities from TU in 2011, started her first novel, That Time I Joined the Circus, as a part of Dr. Moore’s novel-writing course. The book was later sold to Scholastic. Howard’s second novel, Tracers, was recently translated into an action movie starring Taylor Lautner. While she is the most publicized of the program’s success stories, she is part of a growing list of published authors who graduated from TU.
Even without goals of becoming the author of a New York Times best-seller, students find there is a lot to be learned from the undergraduate creative writing courses.
“After taking the poetry creative writing course, I’m much broader in my ability to write. Before, I was one of those A-B-A-B poetry writers, or rhyme writers, and now I have a broader horizon,” said Kellie Gruber, an undergraduate student who has already fulfilled the requirements for a creative writing minor.
Dr. Moore noted some skills that will help students in their future careers; there are more lessons than meet the eye in the study and crafting of short stories and poetry.
“Writing, whether it’s fiction, creative non-fiction, or even poetry, really helps your writing in other subjects,” Dr. Moore said. He said that creative writing can also help students “build up that thick skin for criticism” and appropriately express themselves through words: two vitals skills for a workplace of any kind that cannot be taught in seminars and orientations.
With all this in mind, do you think you’re an eligible candidate to undertake a creative writing course? Chances are that you would be a perfect fit in a creative writing workshop here at TU; after all, creative writing is a bigger part of your life than you think.
“A lot of people will say, ‘Oh, I hate poetry’ because they had to study it in school and hated it, and then they know every word to every song they’ve listened to, and those are all poems,” Dr. Moore said.
“In most cases, [poetry is] just those song lyrics without the music, and sometimes it tells stories, sometimes it’s meant to be recited, sometimes it’s meant to be sung,” said. Dr. Moore.
Relating it to a favorite genre of many college students, he said, “Rap is great for narrative poetry, telling a story, and you don’t really need musical skill to rap; you need reciting skill.”
He continued, “Anybody who likes stories, who likes to read, who likes movies [would do well in creative writing classes], but also if you just want to get outside of your comfort zone. That’s always a fun thing.”