Writing in Times of Uncertainty

By Kathleen Driskell, Chair, Spalding’s School of Creative & Professional Writing

This post originally appeared as a Facebook post on March 21, 2020.

Spalding students, I hear some of you are having a hard time writing in this time of uncertainty. Me, too. And this is exacerbated by the fact that your worksheet submissions are due April 22. But here’s something I know you’ve learned in Spalding’s program: All writing is born from other writing. The other thing I know you’ve gained from this program is at least one writing friend.

Reach out to that friend and reawaken the lost art and appreciation for letter writing. What would the world of writing be like—what would the world be like—if we didn’t have the letters of Virginia Woolf, Rilke, Keats, Audre Lorde, Flannery O’Connor, Dickinson?

Connect with at least one writing friend (maybe create a circle of three or four) and begin a serious correspondence. Ask each other open-ended questions about the art of writing, your own writing, the world around us—focus on asking questions surrounding our senses or about experiences we are having or remembering in this time of isolation. Commit to meaningful challenging conversation in letters. Hold each other accountable. Encourage one another to spin off into other writing when these letters surprise us with wonderful ideas and observations.

Remember, all writing, every aspect of it, is about connection.


Award-winning poet and teacher Kathleen Driskell is the MFA Chair and Professor of Creative Writing at Spalding University’s School of Creative and Professional Writing, Home of the Low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program. Her newest poetry collection Blue Etiquette is available from Red Hen Press. Next Door to the Dead, winner of the 2018 Judy Gaines Young Book Award is available from UPKY. Follow her @kathdriskell or visit her blog at kathleendriskell.blogspot.com.


Announcing the Full Line-up of Spalding’s Festival of Contemporary Writing, Nov. 16-22

Spalding University’s Festival of Contemporary Writing, the state’s largest fall-spring reading series, takes place Saturday, November 16, through Friday, November 22, with faculty and alumni of the low-residency programs of Spalding’s School of Creative and Professional Writing. Bestselling graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang headlines the festival as Distinguished Visiting Writer. Yang is the author of the Printz Award-winning American Born Chinese and the National Book Award Finalist Boxers & Saints, a boxed set of graphic novels. Yang has served as a National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship.

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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. 

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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.

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“Changing All the Time”: An Interview with Katy Yocom

by Kaylene Johnson-Sullivan

Photo credit: Terry Price

Have you ever turned the last page of a good book and wished you could sit down and have a meaningful conversation with the author? I had just finished reading an advance copy of Three Ways to Disappear by Katy Yocom and decided to act on that impulse.

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In Defense of Writing by Hand

By John Pipkin, Spalding MFA Fiction Faculty

Writers tend to like stories about the way that other writers write, the processes and habits and superstitions and the curious little quirks that define a writer’s methods.  And bound up with this interest in writerly process, there is also a related obsession with something less glamorous, less romantic: speed. 

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On Writing Again: a follow-up to my blog post of November 19, 2018

By Robin Lippincott, Spalding MFA Fiction Faculty

I’m writing prose again for the first time in three years. My previous blog post detailed why I hadn’t written, and why I had been unable to write for so long: the catastrophic illness and death of my husband, Lee. Yes, I am finally writing again, and I’m happy to be able to say that it feels good. But because it has been so long, I’m trying to hold the writing that I’m doing lightly: of course, I hope it amounts to something, becomes a publishable piece and thus, a product, but instead of focusing on that I’m trying instead to appreciate and enjoy the process, and the simple fact that I am once again able to spend a part of my day writing, as I’ve done for most of my adult life.

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