Nowadays when I sit down to write anything, I can only tell a true story and more specifically one that has happened to me. And it is this that I’ve learned most importantly this year, that, for me, the best way to write a good story is to experience it. For that reason I am excited that the whole of the Creative Writing department will be going to New Orleans, Louisiana next month. It is important that a writer draws inspiration from certain aspects of the world and has something good to say about it or else it’s useless and the best way to practice this is by going into a different city or place and writing from what you see and learn there.
We have been talking a lot in class about this as preparation for the trip and in designing our itinerary, which has academic agendas like learning more about the literary history of the city, but also has other more random seeming adventures like boating in a swamp. And when I’ve sat here and thought about it I do think the most creative work I’ll be able to produce will be from these random excursions. It is a writer’s job to transcribe the weirdness of the world and to put it in a little text which I do think is a very hard job but it is suddenly made much easier when you find yourself in a much newer place and somewhere as crazy and Hellish as a damp Louisiana swamp!
I think it is important that we take this trip to New Orleans not only to learn about writers who have worked there but also so we can write about the boozers and ghosts and the broad majestic Mississippi river that are found in that part of the country. It isn’t stressed enough I don’t think how important it is that a writer gets out of his or her house and takes a look at something and uses it to write about. I went to Spain this summer which I find to be a very crazy and weird place (as is New Orleans!) and have in response written about 80 percent of this year’s work about the hills and villages of that area.
I did not realize how important it was to travel as a writer until I decided that it was just about impossible for me to sit at my desk and write a story completely pulled from the banks of my mind, because there’s nothing about a clean classroom that inspires me in any way or triggers any sort of crazy story like a big wooden steamboat might. And so I do think it is important to spend time reading the classics and the great writers of the history of the world but I also think it is equally important to find something new to look at and to use the world’s funniness as an inspiration for your writing and so I am pleased to be boarding a little plane this March and going down to the dirtiest swamps and rivers of Louisiana!
Liam Miyar-Mullan, class of 2018