Fiction with Philip Harris by Isabella Hansen

To compare my freshman year experience with my sophomore year experience would be like comparing a dinosaur to an ant. Freshman year was big and exciting with the obvious factor of the pandemic and the newness of highschool. Now, as a sophomore, I find myself focusing more on my critical writing skills and what I need to do in order to better myself in all aspects of Creative Writing. I like to think that I have made great leaps in both my writing and workshopping skills but I know there’s always room to improve with help from my fellow creative writers. 

The most consistent thing in my writing life now is the CW 1 fiction unit. Last year, our department head decided on including an artist in residence throughout our three week fiction unit. Normally it would just be CW 2 (the juniors and seniors) who would be taught by an artist in residence so it was a surprise to be taught by someone else. Phillip Harris was our fiction artist in residence then and it was an educational and lovely experience. I did not have much experience with fiction so it was pretty  new and daunting to freshmen year old me but Phillip interwove realistic and everyday life short stories with science fiction and fantasy in a way that fascinated me.  I remember thoroughly enjoying discussing the stories that he would bring to the table, even though my contribution was at a minimum due to my shyness. 

Now as a sophomore and a lot more comfortable with the daily discussions in CW, I was delighted to hear that Phillip would be coming back to teach our fiction unit again. It was almost nostalgic for the first story to be taught in our unit to be one I read and enjoyed during freshman year. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson was one of the first short stories that had me really thinking about literary crafts like tone, perspective and imagery. We read a short story everyday and discuss it. I think whole class discussions will always be an anxiety inducing subject for me but with CW, I’m able to improve and dissect literature while also hearing the interesting thoughts of my classmates. 

Isabella Hansen, Class of ’23