Living and Writing and Faith: Dispatch from Self-Isolation, Day 30

By Elaine Neil Orr, Fiction/Creative Nonfiction Faculty

Since I wrote this short essay about Covid-19 and sliding into depression and finding a way out, I’ve felt depressed again, more than once. I’m seeing a pattern and learning how to pull myself up. But I’m also trying to be patient with myself. Today after my graduate seminar, I told my students I love them. It’s true. I do love them. But I would not say that in “normal times.” I’m saying it now that we are all more aware of how fragile life is. My students’ faces registered real joy when I spoke that sentence: “I love you.”

I hope we can make it permissible to find the good that this period of our lives yields up.

Maybe this blog can yield up some grace in your day.

Living and Writing and Faith: Dispatch from Self-Isolation, Day 30


Elaine Neil Orr is the author of five books, including her memoir, Gods of Noonday: A White Girl’s African Life, and the novel, A Different Sun. Her latest novel, Swimming Between Worlds captures the moral imperatives of integration in the early 1960s and was a finalist for the 2019 Phillip H. McMath Post-Publication Book Award in Fiction. She has been honored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She serves on the faculty of English at N.C. State University as well as the faculty of the Spalding University School of Creative and Professional Writing.


Summer Residency in Paris: The Rest of the Details!

By Katy Yocom, Spalding School of Writing Associate Director for Communications and Alumni Relations

Last week, I wrote up all the details we could announce about our Paris residency, July 6-16, 2020. This week I’m back with final details, including travel costs and an innovative new workshop focused on professional writing.

Continue reading “Summer Residency in Paris: The Rest of the Details!”

Summer Residency in Paris: (Most of) The Details You’ve Been Waiting For

By Katy Yocom, Spalding School of Writing Associate Director of Communications and Alumni Relations

This is the time of year when students and alums start sending me GIFs of impatient cats, with captions like “Me watching my email for news about Paris.”

I know you’re eager to make your plans. I swear we’re not holding out on you; we’re just putting the final touches on the residency. And in that spirit, even though final details are still in progress, here’s what I can tell you.

Continue reading “Summer Residency in Paris: (Most of) The Details You’ve Been Waiting For”

Ohm’s Law

By Debra Kang Dean, Spalding School of Writing Poetry Faculty

For any circuit the electrical current is directly proportional to the voltage and is inversely proportional to the resistance.

As a consequence of my bewilderingly high scores in the electronics section of the battery of tests I had to take before enlisting in the Air Force, I was recruited into the field of ground radio repair. It turned out to be a poor match since I never really got beyond being able to read schematics; I console myself by believing that one need also have mechanical sense to do well, and my scores on that part of the test had been dismal.

Continue reading “Ohm’s Law”

Setting Your Place, Sitting in Place

By Elaine Orr, Spalding School of Writing Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Faculty

I recently had the good fortune of a one-week writing residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, not a long retreat, but long enough to crack open my novel-in-progress, roam around in it and warm it up. Anyone who has written a novel knows that if you leave it too long, it goes cold, and it’s frightening to go back in. It’s like entering a winter abode with no means of heat. And who knows if things have gotten worse while you were away. Maybe the furniture is shabbier than you remember, the cupboards barer, the wallpaper flapping off the walls. It really can be like entering a haunted house.

Continue reading “Setting Your Place, Sitting in Place”

Fractured Fiction

By Eleanor Morse, Spalding School of Writing Fiction Faculty

Ocean Vuong, a soft-spoken and brilliant Vietnamese-American poet and fiction writer and a 2019 recipient of a MacArthur fellowship, said, “Often we demand of the American novel to be cohesive, a monolithic statement of a generation, but having grown up post-911, cohesion was not part of my generation’s imagination, nor our language, nor our self-identity, and I felt if I were to write my version of an American novel, it would have to look more like fragmentation. 

Continue reading “Fractured Fiction”

Strutting Adventure on the Page

By Julie Brickman, Spalding School of Writing Fiction Faculty

 Years ago, when I was writing my first novel, I got into a new relationship. For the first few weeks, it colonized my mind and I parsed every word, gesture and intuition for meaning.  One night, deep in dreamland, I got a phone call.  It was Kendra Quillan, my protagonist.  “Where are you?” she said, and hung up.

Continue reading “Strutting Adventure on the Page”

Hug a Tree, Write a Page

By Fenton Johnson, Spalding MFA Creative Nonfiction and Fiction Faculty

California Valley Oak

 “Nothing induces silence like experience,” wrote Flannery O’Connor, an observation that comes to mind more often as I grow older.  On occasion I have considered that the best way to teach creative writing might be for the workshop to read together, first in silence and then aloud, a paragraph by a master, then sit with that paragraph in silence for the next two hours.  These thoughts come particularly to mind now because, in teaching my most recent Spalding intensive, I neglected to conclude my workshop with the admonition with which I conclude all my workshops, i.e., forget everything I’ve said, open your heart, go out and look at the world, and write.

Continue reading “Hug a Tree, Write a Page”