by Kiara Ivey, Elan Junior Layout/Design Editor
Elan is an international student literary magazine. In this feature, students who are members of the staff will share their experiences with the Douglas Anderson Writers’ Festival.
In seventh grade, I was only vaguely aware of Writers’ Fest, but I knew one thing: though I was involved in theatre, I was infatuated with writing. I’d always written, conjuring up stories and giving them to my teachers and best friends to read because I desired attention for my work, and I deeply envied those who were fortunate enough to improve their craft in a classroom setting. I was planning on attending Douglas Anderson, which would give me this opportunity, and I knew the Writers’ Festival would serve as the proper introduction to this future journey.
I most remember Margaret Atwood’s fiction workshop. She’d given students the option to email their manuscripts prior to the Festival so they could be discussed and workshopped. Some writers, who were mainly college students, read excerpts of their work for the rest of us, and I was mesmerized by their words, the fluidity and raw nature of the language I was still so far from. At that point in my life, a well-developed plot, intriguing characters, and pretty language were all that mattered. I’d never remotely considered the benefits of delving beyond my comfort zone. It was a foreign concept and Writers’ Fest started me taking risks again.
Along with Patricia Smith’s Blood Dazzler, I also bought a copy of Sarah’s Kay book of poetry No Matter the Wreckage “Shosholoza.” I’d never read a body of creative work that transported me so well to such an unfamiliar place. I was intrigued by the outside world, and immediately buried myself in it by taking on multiple fiction projects at once. Blood Dazzler inspired a story written in the perspective of a monsoon. “Shosholoza,” along with current events, inspired a story based on the seizure of hundreds of Nigerian girls due to terrorism and human trafficking. Even today, I continue to write gritty fiction. I see its importance now more than ever before, and continue to push myself over the limit only because I was pushed (and pushed and pushed again).
We have the power to make others bleed with us, and want to. As Rick Moody said in his 2014 workshop, “Language is a virus from outer space.” That’s why, this Writers’ Festival, I’m packing up my notebooks and my favorite pens and vacation to that realm in hopes of returning with star matter on my paper and on my hands.