At Maryville College, a small group of students have joined together with the plan of uniting the writers throughout the school. In the process of being officially created, one of Maryville College Writer’s Guild’s key founders, senior writing/communications major Allen Brady, said that he wants the guild to function as a group that provides “accountability, community and skill-building” to writers on campus.
“Personally, when I write on my own it is really hard,” Brady said. “The guild would help to bring in other angles to shape your writing, and it is just more fun to sit around with like-minded people and tell a story.”
For Brady, he said that the goal of the guild is not to create extra pressure on writers, but to create a casual environment for people to share, discuss and constructively critique. Mary Moates, junior writing/communications major and the co-founder of the guild, feels the same.
“The guild would be a place where young writers could support one another,” Moates said.
The idea for the guild came from a conversation Brady and Moates had one evening.
“We were both students in Mr. Trevathan’s fiction class, and were talking about how we wished we could somehow reproduce the group workshop time we had in there,” Moates said.
Feeling that they had both grown as writers from the class and benefited from student workshop critiques, Brady and Moates said that they “wanted to take that environment and put it on a campus-wide level,” so that every student could benefit from having the experience of being in a writing-focused community.
Brady and Moates quickly recruited fellow writing/communications major and junior, Amber Roberts, to complete their leadership for the guild, and began organizational planning. Once started, the guild will meet once a month casually for writers to share and discuss works.
“It’s really fun to share your work,” Roberts said. “Being around people doing the same things as you is always comforting. Knowing you are not the only one sitting up at four in the morning writing stories is something the guild can provide.”
The guild will also be a resource for students to share not only personal writing, but creative writing that is in preparation for school publications, such as “The Highland Echo” and “Impressions,” and for students applying for MFA graduate school programs or working on their senior theses.
“Normally, one only shares thesis with an advisor, but here there is the chance to bounce ideas off of people who are going through the same process,” Roberts said.
Once the group is established, it plans to contribute to the community by both holding workshops and bringing in guest speakers. Brady said that he wants for the guild to come together to teach and share writing advice, as well as produce writing itself. Along with welcomed professors or writers from beyond the MC community, student writers will have the opportunity to offer insight to their peers on their own writings and, Brady said, they would gain from learning from those stronger in other areas of the practice.
“I have this vision of the old publishing houses you read about, where everyone sits around typewriters, smoking cigars and drinking coffee in their coffee-stained shirts, throwing out one piece of paper only to start again in frustration,” Moates said. “Writing has not changed much.”
Roberts said that she wanted to write because she loves to read.
“You want to contribute to what you see all these people you look up to doing and fit yourself into that mass of amazing,” Roberts said.
Brady said that he also wanted to create the guild for personal reasons.
“If you want to be a writer, you have to write,” Brady said. “You have to practice it almost daily. Personally, I do not have enough discipline to write and critique on my own. That is where the guild will help.”
Moates said that she felt that the guild would, most importantly, offer encouragement to its members to write, whether the material in the meetings was praised or critiqued, or the member was just starting out.
“As Hemingway said, ‘There is nothing to writing; all you do sit down at a typewriter and bleed,’” Moates said. “Writing is hardcore work, but it doesn’t have to be done alone.”