It’s Not All Coffee Runs

My work with MTSU Write has provided me with one certainty: my last semester at MTSU will remain in my memory indefinitely. We’re a little more than halfway through the Fall 2017 semester, a fact I find difficult to accept. But I know the reason for time’s rapid passing: I’m far too busy learning. The talented writers with whom I’ve connected have both humbled and inspired me, and I look forward to completing the semester with fervency and enthusiasm. My passion for stories and the written word is the strongest that it has ever been. MTSU Write has introduced many avenues for creativity and professional development that has exceeded my highest of expectations.
The Fall Creative Writing Conference was my first time being a part of such an immersive environment. The amount of talent packed into one room was baffling. I consider it a privilege to be involved with the conference in nearly every way from participating in sessions to set-up the event to making my first coffee run. The environment of the conference was conducive to the craft; I’ve never felt a greater sense of urgency to write than I did during and after the conference.Even helping set up was inspiring: Poet Christian Anton Gerard gave me the impromptu opportunity to drive his truck. I thought the experience of driving a poet’s pick-up was pretty damn cool. Also, if any Nashville songwriter happens to read this and wants the rights to “poet’s pick-up” for a song title, it’s all yours.

At the conference, I practiced a bit of travel writing, an unfamiliar genre, but one for which I have formed a deep respect and appreciation. I had always thought that travel writing was just simply an account of all the touristy things to do at a particular place. This isn’t the case at all; travel writing is a story. It’s a narrative of the writer’s meaningful experiences in a new place and culture that reads like a novel or short story. The session allowed me to practice this narrative style by reflecting on a particularly memorable camping trip.  Dr. Gloria Ballard also gave me some excellent advice for a piece I’d like to write after I make my eventual visit to New York City. Though my reason for visiting will be driven by career-related interests, Dr. Ballard suggested visiting other notable destinations to help round out my piece. She told each of us that even our most touristy experiences are essential to the story so there is no shame in hopping on a tour bus.

That same afternoon I was fortunate enough to experience Andy Landis’ innovative instruction. Playwriting is a new genre to me, but one about which I am passionate. Landis helped us channel our own voices as writers into character monologues. We used core aspects of our personalities and our passions to devise a specific want for a character. A character’s pursuit of a desire in the face of conflict is an essential takeaway from the workshop. Without a powerful want, the monologue will fall flat. As writers, understanding our own personal wants and motives, introspective with our characters, identifying the essence of our subjectivity is an excellent approach to become acquainted with oneself as a writer and their characters.

The end of my college career (and the real, real-world) are approaching me faster than I may even realize. I am thankful that MTSU Write has provided me with time to grow and develop professionally as I enter the workforce. From all of my experiences so far, functioning in the publishing industry now seems well within my abilities. The necessity of social media in the field of writing has become very apparent, and I feel that I’ve become better acquainted with that aspect of the art form. Promotion and connections are key. It would be knowing how much time I’ve spent cropping a photo for Instagram. I still have much to learn, but I feel confident that I am attaining the tools that I need for success and fulfillment. My involvement with the inaugural publishing of Shift will allow me to gain more relevant experience, and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity.

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Wyatt May, MTSU Write intern


Call for Submissions

MTSU Write is seeking submissions for the inaugural issue of our literary journal, Shift. We accept submissions of short fiction, poetry, short plays, and creative non-fiction. Poetry may be up to 3 pages; fiction and creative non-fiction may be up to 5000 words; plays may be 10 to one act. To submit, visit and for a complete list of guidelines visit Additional questions may be sent to We look forward to putting your words on our page.


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