Senior Brendan Reeves came to Knox with little expectations for what path his education would take. Originally interested in the Russian language but unimpressed with the International Relations program offered at Knox, Reeves decided to use this opportunity to explore different fields of study.
After taking a few intro courses in Literature and Creative Writing, Reeves was inspired to take Ways of Reading taught by Associate Professor of English Emily Anderson. Feeling that his ideas had not been contested before taking a class with Anderson, Reeves saw that her intensity was a refreshing change.
“She doesn’t put up with [stuff] from students,” he said. “She will challenge basically everything a student comes in there thinking about literature, thinking about thinking.”
Though Reeves has taken courses in nonfiction, he is able to tell his stories more effectively through the lens of fictional characters.
“My fiction draws so much from my own personal life and experiences and people I’ve met that trying to write it nonfiction just felt like it was cramping what I did,” he said. “I can’t make it better or more interesting.”
Reeves, shifting his interests, aims to find a career in journalism, which he feels is a more realistic outlet for himself as a writer.
Senior Elise Goitia has been writing stories since she was 8 years old, around the time she realized her mother was an author. Goitia’s mother, who writes romantic women’s fiction, encouraged her to write her first story, which followed a mermaid vampire hunter.
“I got 93 pages into it and then I just moved on but I was very proud,” she said. “It took me a long time to get to 93 pages.”
At 13, Goitia finished her first novel, beginning a tradition of writing a book each summer.
“I was really lucky to have very encouraging friends and family who worked to get me to writers’ conferences and enter me into contests,” she said. “And then I came to Knox and I just didn’t stop.”
Until recently she focused exclusively on fantasy and science fiction. She is thankful to Knox professors for showing her the experiential side of creative writing and pushing students to experiment with different styles and genres.
“You have professors who never quit on how much they believe in you, which I think is an incredible thing to have when you’re constantly cycling a class of students in and out every year,” Goitia said. “I can’t tell you how many times my classmates have come to my rescue with something I write. Or my professors have challenged me to take it a step further. I can’t really see that being emulated anywhere else but Knox.”
For senior Bridget McCarthy, her career as a writer did not begin with her arrival at Knox. Instead, she came to the decision to pursue writing as early as fifth grade after receiving praise and encouragement from her grandfather. In the following years, McCarthy’s experiences in high school helped confirm her aspiration to make writing a career.
“Throughout my life I’ve always become more and more convinced that stories and telling stories is a distinctly human activity and it’s really critical to all of our lives. We just don’t realize it,” she said.
Despite always having the goal in mind, McCarthy did not get the experience she needed until she came to Knox, where the structure and demands of the creative writing curriculum forced her to write and create. The most advantageous aspect of the curriculum for McCarthy, and the aspect she will miss the most upon graduation, has been the workshop process and hearing feedback from other writers.
“Workshops are the most fulfilling opportunity to write because you can hear from people who know what types of things you put into your story,” she said. “Getting that constructive, craft-oriented feedback is invaluable.”
Though she sought feedback and criticism from peers and family members prior to coming to Knox, she is appreciative of the opportunity for her work to be evaluated from the perspective of fellow writers.