Category Archives: The Writing Life

An Exquisite Corpse Comes to Club Fair!

Knight WritersThanks to all of the students that participated in the Knight Writers’ “Exquisite Corpse” story building game at the Winter Club fair! The Exquisite Corpse was a party game played by surrealist French artists and poets in the early 20th century. One person would write a phrase or create an image, then fold the paper over to conceal part of it. They would then pass it to the next person, who would add their contribution. This collaborative and creative effort often has amazing results!

If you enjoy playing with language, writing poetry, stories, rap, drama or creative nonfiction, come to the Knight Writers’ Creative Writing Club kickoff meeting in the library’s leadership room at 2:30 on Wednesday, January 20th. You will learn what the club is all about and have the opportunity to join. Help build our story! For more information contact us at thecentralpen@centralpenn.edu or visit our Facebook page.

Here is what we came up with on Wednesday, January 6th at the Club Fair in the Capital BlueCross Theatre. Can you add the next line?

 

Once the new year began, Joe decided to make some changes in his life…

And then suddenly life slapped him in the face!

And justice was served…

In walked Bill.

Bill was tall. His skin was leathery…

His hair was black as night…

His eyes were coal….

Much to Joe’s surprise, when he confronted him…

he was very soft spoken…

However, he carried a big stick…

And then suddenly, he threw it in the river!

He found a dog swimming to land…

And then he took it home…

And then he went to sleep…

not realizing that the new canine friend he had found was really…

 

The story continues…

girl-writing-stars

Leave a comment to add another line or two to our story! Join us for refreshments at 2:30, Wednesday, January 20th in the library to continue the saga and hear the final results!

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Welcome to the Information Age

Snip20150702_40The internet is the most wonderful thing that has happened for college students in many decades as it allows us to have an infinite amount of information at our fingertips.  Gone are the days of debate about who won the 1998 World Series (New York Yankees) or who won the Best Actress in 2005 (Hilary Swank for Million Dollar Baby).  Anything we want to know is only a moment away.  Seems great right?

The unfortunate side of the information age is the quality of information our students use in their research.  High school and college students today are so used to using Google and Wikipedia in their personal lives that they transfer that into their studies.  And while technology literacy is a wonderful attribute for them, understanding the pros and cons of the internet when writing and researching is essential to success.

In this blog piece, I’ve decided to take a look at the positive and negative aspects of the internet when it comes to certain aspects of the writing process.  Hopefully, this will make students aware of some of these pitfalls before doing their next paper. Continue reading

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Everyday I’m Scribblin’

I was recently reminded of a harsh reality about writing: the only way to write, unfortunately, is to write. An obvious, simple, yet (for me, anyway) an f-ing elusive truth, and always easier said than done.

At the end of May, I experienced a huge setback with my PhD dissertation (a major research project estimated to run 200+ pages), which forced me to draft a lot of material in a short amount of time–40,000 words in four weeks! And I’m proud to report that I met that goal–and then some.

Snip20150709_53Now, what I ended up with wasn’t highly polished, carefully edited prose. Far from it. But I did get exactly what I needed: a finished first draft, always the hardest part of the writing process for me, which I now can spend a few weeks revising before submitting to my dissertation committee at Duquesne University at the end of July.

How did I achieve this Sisyphusean feat–a trip to my local crossroads at midnight? Nope–no Satanic bargains for me, thank you very much. I just stopped thinking (ie judging myself negatively) and started writing. I broke the project into small, daily writing goals: 1600 words a day, every day–no matter how tired, or how frustrated, or how bored, or how anxious I was. Most professional writers I know–and all of the “writers on writing” books I’ve read–say the same thing: daily, regimented writing routines are how writing happens. Continue reading

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The Professional Writer: Bridging the Gap between Page and Stage with Carla Christopher

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Central Pennsylvania’s arts scene is alive and thriving because it is held up by pillars like professional writer, Carla Christopher, York city’s Arts & Culture Liaison and host of Culture & Main. Carla is no stranger to Central Penn College. When she was Poet Laureate of York, PA she performed here in celebration of “Poem in Your Pocket Day, 2013.” Her small press, Poem Sugar, has published the works of some of our faculty and staff and she even gave our Corporate Communications students a taste of real world broadcasting by inviting them to a taping of her TV Show, Culture and Main. One of those students, Amanda Kloehr, read her poetry on the show.

This artistic entrepreneur is the glue that keeps Central PA’s cultural scene together. That is no easy task, especially when there are conflicts even within specific artistic genres. Take poetry for example, where traditional “page” poets and stage performers fight for domination, each one seeing their style as the only right way to do poetry. Regardless of this ongoing debate, Carla Christopher is a bridge between the two.

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I’m bored! : How Boredom Can Boost Creativity

Want to write like Ginsberg? Take a shower.

Like most writers, I get my best ideas in the shower–one fist full of soap and the opening line to the next great American novel. ‘Shower thoughts’ have become such a cultural phenomenon that you can now buy waterproof writing pads. You can also watch your favorite celebrity, like Nick Offerman [warning: explicit language] or Anna Kendrick [warning: explicit language], talk about their most profound shower thoughts. [You can read more about the benefits of being bored at Bored, Brilliant and… Counterintuitively Interesting: A Reading List by Manoush Zomorodi and even try some of the boredom challenges.]

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But why are you history’s greatest philosopher or the next Mark Twain when you’re in the shower? Recent studies look at the psychology of boredom to understand what your brain is doing while the shower is running. For you creative cleansers, the research suggests that your next novel might just be sitting in the suds.

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Five Ways to Jump Start A Creative Writing Routine

Sure, you want to write.  You have a great hook or character.  You have your whole first novel mapped out or the next slam-winning poem…the problem is that you have them all in your head.  Be don’t be discouraged.  You’re not alone.

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 Moving from brain to page is no easy task, but with these tips, you help kick start that process.


1. Start a blog: A blog is a great way to get your writing everyday, and you can write as much or as little as you want.  A blog will automatically keep track of the days and times you write, which will help you as you take on more serious writing projects. One word of caution: if you are considering publishing down the road, you should be refrain from posting it on the blog since some publishers will consider it ‘published.’  Check out The Pen’s own post on the subject!

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2. Use a creative writing prompt: Hate staring at a blank page?  Writer’s block giving you the writer’s blues?  There are dozens of website that offer writing prompts to get you inspired.  Some of our favorites are Language-is-a-virus, First Line Generator, Creative Writing Ink, and The One-Minute Writer.

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3. Keep a journal: Sometimes the easiest tool is also the best one.  Journaling can help you keep track not only of your everyday experiences, but can also be a great place to sketch characters, write a plot summary, or record an idea that just won’t let go of you.  Journaling is particularly alluring for you pen and paper types, and it gives you an opportunity to splurge on those fancy fountain pens you’ve been eyeing!

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4. Join a creative writing club: Clubs are an excellent way to get yourself motivated to write and keep you accountable to your writing goals.  You can also get immediate feedback on a particular character, scene, or subplot, which will be invaluable if you decide to take your writing to a publisher.  Clubs meet both in person and online!

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5. Use your tech!: Sometimes, we forget that our most powerful writing tool is the one we have in our hands (laps or palms!).  Use your favorite tech to set writing reminders and to schedule yourself time to write.  You can also use apps to keep you on pace: Mindly, Mind Node, Help Me Write, and Write-or-Die.  There are dozens out there, so find your fix!

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The Professional Writer: James G. Piatt Encourages Emerging Writers to Follow Their Bliss

 

When it girl-writing-starscomes to writing, James G. Piatt sees far more than the bottom line. He sees an opportunity to do something that gives him joy. That, for him is the most important thing. “You must decide on what your goals are. If it is to make money, you must do those things which will make money. You will have to write for the prevailing audience, do heavy personal marketing, travel, make speeches, make business contacts, do loads of book signings, etc. etc.” says Piatt, a retired teacher and artist with numerous publishing credits under his belt. “ If it is to release the creative spirit in your soul, then create and be happy with the outcome.”

“Chase your dreams. Do what makes you feel worthwhile and satisfied. Life is short; Make the most of it; Spend your time doing those things that make you happy.” ~ James G. Piatt, author

By focusing on his passion for writing, James has found an audience that loves his creative work. Along with two poetry collections, thirty four of his short stories have been published.  His method is to write and revise, then send his polished pieces out to publishers. His poems and stories have been published in over 100 magazines, anthologies, and books. He says if you are doing it to make money, emulate the celebrity writer and don’t worry about literary value. But if you want a lasting voice, hone your craft and follow your heart. Be persistent and work hard, and success will come to you.  To read James G. Piatt’s creative work, see the poetry below and check out his poetic collections, here.

Inequality

I sense the heartbreaking weeping of souls
hungering for equality mirrored in their lifeless
reflections in a fading blood colored moon: The
unfortunate find hope is only a thin pallid wash
attempting, without success, to cover their
frozen moments of hopelessness.

I reflect sadly on the fervent prayers of golden-
haired angels playing poignant songs on silver
bells, hovering like burning moths over the flame
of the world’s calloused indifference… and sob:

Trying to forget the inequities, I guzzle peach
Margaritas in a sleazy bar where sad women
swing their bodies like gaudy birds. My mind
lacking reason, like the money drunk elite, feigns
to comprehend the misery of splintered
nightmares in rundown ghettos, where cheap
wine is served and hotdogs are grilled over
coals of need in a rusted garbage can, while the
rich sailing on a yacht, slurp mimosas, eat $400
a tin caviar and gobble down fresh Dolphin meat
from Madagascar.

 

Weep No More Robin Williams

Weep not Robin…
For peace comes on summer’s wings,
As bards write poems to overcome
Your sadness, they will wipe away
Tragic tears from your lonesome being,
Awaken in your heart a sudden gladness:

Weep not Robin…
Eirene’s warm embrace
Will take you to higher and
Higher splendors of peace,
Expunging the dim world of your Darkened
rhyme under the bountiful Bouquet of a rose
covered arbor:

Weep not Robin…
Eleos will break the spell of your Darkened
night, and enclose in your Heart a gleaming halo
at dawn, she will Bring into your being a blissful
delight, And into your soul, she will create a
Rebirth, and a sweet song.

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Poets: Don’t Fear The Traditional

by Thomas Davis, Jr.

We celebrate contemporary poetry—rightfully so. We delight in the random rhythms and streams of consciousness, the ebbs and flows of which reflect the meandering nature of our post-modern minds. This freedom from form is inspiring and enlivening, and a new generation of poets capable of pushing the genre to new heights is never far beneath the ever-expanding horizon. But what about tradition? Much like the speaker in Frost’s “Mending Wall” desires to know “what [he] was walling in or walling out,” we should pause to consider the nature of the poetic forms from which we now seek to distinguish ourselves. Continue reading

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The Knight Writers! Central Penn College’s Creative Writing Club

Spring has sprung and Central Penn College’s creative writing club, The Knight Writers, is geared up for an exciting term filled with creative activities. Our first meeting will be held on Thursday, April 9th at 4:00 pm in Bollinger Hall. All are welcome.

WaltPoetryContestFlier

The Central Pen Poetry Contest!

 

The month of April is inspiring, not only because of the new sights, sounds and smells of Spring, but because April is National Poetry Month. This is the month we celebrate all kinds of poetry, from Shakespeare to spoken word. It is the time to come to Knight Writers’ meetings and put pen to paper (or text to phone, whatever the case may be!) In fact, this month students can submit their poetry to Thecentralpen@centralpenn.edu for The Fifth Annual Central Pen Poetry Contest. The first place winner will receive $100 and a membership in the Academy of American Poets. Poems can be of any length or subject matter, but must be the student’s original work. Hurry! Submissions are due April 26th. For more information, contact Professor Maria Thiaw.

April doesn’t hold the cornerstone on literary activity, however. On Saturday, May 2nd, Central Penn poets and Knight Writers will be performing at the Amani Festival, an annual multicultural festival held in downtown Carlisle, PA. The event will feature vendors, cultural acts and some of Central PA’s top performance poets including Dustin Nispel, Carla Christopher and Shaashawn Dial. The poetry section will be hosted by Maria (James) Thiaw and Corporate Communications major, Shonyah Hawkins. Poetry books and CDs will be on sale. The festival goes on from 10 – 4 but the Knight Writers are on at 12. Come out and show your support!

On June 4th, you can join us for “Take A Stand,” a theatrical production celebrating the arts. More info will be out on this event very soon. To get the first scoop on all of our activities and events, be sure to join us for our meetings Thursday afternoons at 4:00 pm in Bollinger Hall, room 51 starting April 9th!

For a calendar of Central PA poetry events for National Poetry Month, visit www.thetrianglepa.com.

Don’t just be a writer. Be a Knight Writer!

 

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Four Tips for Developing Successful Blog Content

by Paul Miller

As someone who has had a successful blog for the better part of three years, I often have students show great interest in blogging.  There is one question that continuously arises:  What should I write about?  Students have an easy time understanding why blogging is so important:  It gives them a place to showcase their writing ability, their knowledge of their chosen field, and their dedication to do something not (usually) required in a college curriculum.  The issue remains:  How do you develop content?

Answering this question is something that took me quite some time to develop an understanding for.  At first, I had the same quandary.  I started my blog after an influential moment in my life, the first time I attended Harrisburg University’s Social Media Summit.  I took great notes on each panel and decided that I would write my commentary about what I learned to share with my network.  The problem arose after I wrote about each session, accomplishing my initial goal:  Now what do I write about?  The tips that I discuss are ways that I’ve managed to keep my blog going strong over the past few years and I believe these tips can help any blogger for both the short and long terms.blogging

Tip #1 – Develop a frequency of posts and stick to it

When I first began blogging, I felt that a weekly blog piece was the direction that I wanted to pursue.  After about two months, I felt that this was a goal that was very difficult to achieve.  I wasn’t because I didn’t like to write or that I had trouble finding inspiration; it was that I was working multiple jobs.  Making sure I was doing my job to the utmost of my ability superseded the need for a weekly blog.  Since then, I have vowed to have at least one blog per month.  While I’ll admit that some months I didn’t have the opportunity to write, I’ve averaged about 10 blogs per year.

For those starting a new blog, my advice would be to start with what you are comfortable with.  Don’t be unrealistic and think that you’ll be able to blog daily, or even weekly.  If you love to write and have plenty of ideas at your disposal, make an idea bank with potential topics.  That way, if something doesn’t strike you between entries, you always have ideas to fall back on.  Secondly, don’t write just to write.  Be inspired about your topic.  Show that it is relevant to your career path or at least of interest to you.  The worst blogs are those that show no passion, as if the writer is just going through the motions.

Tip #2 – Follow Influencers on Social Media/Reach out for comments/interviews

Social Media has been a communications revolution unlike any the world has witnessed in the modern era.  The world has totally changed the way we as humans communicate with one another.  This also allows us amazing access to those that influence our field of choice.  One strategy that I’ve employed is to look at the field that I’m involved in and find those that are on the cutting edge.

I continuously read and interact with these individuals so I can be in the know of current and important topics.  This has been one of my largest inspirations when it comes to writing my blog.  Also, reach out to your network and ask them questions.  I’ve never had one person turn me down for a three question email interview when I told them I was writing a blog piece.  People want to help you and you shouldn’t feel intimidated to contact them.

Tip #3 – Read articles related to your field

Beyond following people that are influential in your field, it’s important to constantly read anything you can find about these topics.  To be successful in the modern age, one must love what they do.  You have to be able be immersed in the topic on a daily basis.  Read at least two articles a day about your field of study and understand the current problems or issues that go along with it.  This will help you become educated and more importantly, well-rounded in discussion.  You can then use this knowledge in interviews with potential employers.

Tip #4 – Develop an informed opinion

This tip is the most important of all with regards to developing content; you must form your own opinion.  No one wants to read a blog that conforms to the status quo; people want to read viewpoints that differ from the norm.  This is where your knowledge of your field can truly come in handy.  Show your audience that you know what you are talking about and (more importantly) have something of value to say!In the modern day, audiences have more content at their fingertips than they could read in a 24-hour period.  If you don’t provide some sort of value to them, you risk losing them forever.

I encourage you to give blogging a try.  I cannot explain enough the value of a blog to your potential long-term career goals.  I give this example every time I speak on this subject:  Most college students are acquaintances or even friends with others in their major.  What these people really represent is competition for every job that we seek.  Stellar grade point averages are expected now from college students in the open market, so every available job is like a chess match.  With things equal, who gets the job:  Someone that has demonstrated great knowledge of their field via a blog or someone who doesn’t have one?

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About the author.

Paul Miller, paulmiller@centralpenn.edu, teaches courses in communications, business, and writing at Central Penn College.  He has blogged for The Pen before about How To Blog Effectively in Today’s Landscape and teaching courses on writing for social media and business.  You can find Professor Miller at his LinkedIn page.

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