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Something to write home about

Taylor alumni talk of their real world encounters and how they succeeded in writing

By Rayce Patterson | Echo 

The road to becoming a professional writer can be a long and difficult journey. However, it’s not impossible, so take heart in these success stories from Taylor University.

(Photograph provided by Ana Hopkins Photography)

(Photograph provided by Ana Hopkins Photography)

Cara Strickland

Class of 2010

Freelance Writer

Notable Work: “Why Was Turkish Delight C.S. Lewis’s Guilty Pleasure JSTOR Daily

What have you learned from Taylor University that has helped you the most?

“I’m not sure I would be a writer today if it wasn’t for (Assistant Professor of English) Aaron Housholder. He really understood where I was coming from as a writer. It’s such a huge gift to have anybody see you, and see what you are trying to accomplish and want to support you in that. It was a wonderfully supportive environment to explore who I was and realize that my creativity was worthwhile.”

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

“I think that everybody can be a writer. I think what that looks like in your life is different for everybody. If this is something you want to do, be honest with yourself about what kind of sacrifices you are willing to make.”

The Future: Strickland hopes to finish up her residency in creative non-fiction as well as begin writing a book and find an agent to get it published.

 

(Photograph provided by Taryn Zeidman)

(Photograph provided by Taryn Zeidman)

Robbie Maakestad

Class of 2012

Adjunct Faculty at George Washington University

Notable Work:  “A Historic/Linguistic Lithostratigraphic Exploration of How David Conquered Jerusalem The Rumpus

What have you learned from Taylor University that has helped you the most?

“The professors in the Biblical Studies department and the English department challenged me to think deeply about issues of faith and how that relates to writing, and what it means to be both a Christian and a writer.”

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

“Just finding a way to explore the topics you’re interested in or passionate about and finding a way to merge those interests. Figure out what it is you love and make a space to pursue that.”

The Future: Maakestad plans to finish a book he is currently writing about the City of David archaeological park in Jerusalem and the history of the site, as well as find an agent for its publication.

 

(Photograph provided by David Adams)

(Photograph provided by David Adams)

Chandler Birch

Class of 2014

Marketing Creative Writer at ACSI

Notable Work: “The Face Faker’s Game Simon and Schuster

What have you learned from Taylor University that has helped you the most?

“The most important thing I picked up at Taylor was ‘fix it in post.’ The idea was write something and don’t stop yourself because you know it is imperfect because it’s going to be imperfect in the first draft, no matter what. Just lay down something and then you can go back and fix it in post production later.”

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

“Write a bunch. The most important thing I learned how to do was how to finish stuff. For me, the easiest thing is to start a bunch of projects and never do the actual grinding, challenging work of making them interesting and complete. Figuring out how to finish things felt like an actual level-up because figuring out how to finish stuff is really really difficult.”

The Future: Birch is currently working on an outline to a sequel for “The Face Faker’s Game,” as well as several other projects, such as a potentially longer series that falls into the portal fantasy genre.

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