On September 26, the Creative Writing Program welcomed Joshua E.S. Phillips, Nalini Jones, and Joshua Marston at a reading/panel, moderated by Fordham writer-in-residence Meera Nair, entitled Life of a Creative Idea. Though each writer represented a different genre of writing, their advice for aspiring writers held a common thread. Research widely. Be curious about the world and work very, very hard.
Joshua Phillips studied human rights issues under oppressive regimes throughout South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Following the Abu Ghraib scandal under the Bush administration, Phillips wrote his book None of Us Were Like This Before. Phillips talked about how failure, for a writer, can be productive. Unable to reach to the victims themselves, Phillips decided to focus on those responsible for the torture.
Joshua Marston discussed his latest movie The Forgiveness of Blood which explores the topic of Albanian blood feuds, an unspoken and antiquated practice of taking a life for a life. Martson placed particular emphasis on images, and explained how "an image should be worth a million questions."
Nalini Jones grew up following her father to music venues where he worked as a jazz producer. She was inspired by the ambition and creativity of the musicians that surrounded her. She said she never considered writing as a "good" career choice, but that she was naturally drawn to it as a pursuit that she found deeply meaningful. Writing was a way to fill in the gaps that life left out.
One of the most valuable things our guests left us with was the encouragement to continue no matter what. Whether you have your story planned out, or you work it out as you go along, the best way to keep momentum is to remember your inspiration and intentionally introduce elements that excite you so the work doesn't get boring. Also, giving yourself deadlines can help you finally finish that project you've been working on for oh so long. Even if you aren't completely satisfied with what you have, as long as you have material to work with you can always edit, edit, edit!