Tag Archives: Creative Writing

Travelogues

By Maria Moss

What exact­ly is a trav­el­ogue? Or, asked dif­fer­ent­ly, what is it not? A trav­el­ogue is not an adver­tise­ment that tries to sell spe­cif­ic des­ti­na­tions to its read­ers. A trav­el­ogue is not a guide­book with a list of the top 10 best restau­rants or mas­sage places. Rather, a trav­el­ogue is a cre­ative nar­ra­tive of someone’s expe­ri­ences while traveling.

Trav­el­ogues focus on and cel­e­brate the dif­fer­ences in tra­di­tions and cus­toms around the world; very often, they’re con­ver­sa­tion­al in tone and filled with fun­ny details (see, for instance, Bill Bryson’s Sto­ries from a Small Island). Good trav­el­ogues con­tain vivid descrip­tions and sen­so­ry details; unex­pect­ed, maybe even trans­for­ma­tive expe­ri­ences; and accounts of inter­ac­tions with local peo­ple. Trav­el­ogues can also com­bine fic­tion­al and fac­tu­al ele­ments, as one of the great­est trav­el writ­ers, Bruce Chatwin (1940–1989), beau­ti­ful­ly demon­strat­ed (e.g. the sto­ries deal­ing with his trip to Aus­tralia, The Song­lines). Fic­tion­al or non-fic­tion­al, fun­ny or not – above all, a trav­el­ogue must tell a story.

The fol­low­ing two trav­el­ogues, writ­ten by cre­ative writ­ing stu­dents in the fall semes­ter 2022/23, each tell a sto­ry. One takes place in the Ecuadore­an rain­for­est, the oth­er in Venice.

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What Does the Fox Say? A Simple Tale with a Plethora of Possibilities

By Maryann Henck

When I first read George Saun­ders’ fable-like tale, Fox 8, I ini­tial­ly felt amused, then sad, and final­ly out­raged. I also felt a blog brew­ing – not of the book review vari­ety but of the teach­ing tool/creativity cor­ner vari­ety. For starters, Fox 8 is less of a charm­ing bed­time sto­ry for chil­dren – who will no doubt enjoy it – and more of a dark­ly com­ic cau­tion­ary tale for adults. The tit­u­lar first-per­son nar­ra­tor takes the read­ers on a jour­ney through his life as a fox who lives and for­ages with his fel­low fox­es in the for­est. Fox for­est life is run­ning smooth­ly until Fox 8 has his first con­fus­ing encounter with humans, which results in con­flict­ing feelings.

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“My Name” – Vignettes about You

By Maria Moss

Vignettes are won­der­ful! Some­times described as a slice of life, vignettes can be so short that they take away the fear of end­ing up with a white page. Unlike a short sto­ry, there’s no defined begin­ning, mid­dle, or end with a cast of char­ac­ters, mul­ti­ple con­flicts, and the ulti­mate res­o­lu­tion phase. Instead, the vignette’s impres­sion­is­tic scenes focus on one moment or give a par­tic­u­lar insight into one char­ac­ter, idea, or setting.

The Mex­i­can Amer­i­can author San­dra Cis­neros is the unchal­lenged queen of vignette writ­ing, and her col­lec­tion of 44 vignettes,  (1984) is a must read.

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50 Minutes That Make a Name

By Johanna Gabriela Hernández Schäfer

“’What’s in a name?’” by jack dorsey

I’m named after my grand­fa­thers: Johann and Juan. My name is Johan­na. Through­out my life, I’ve met many Johan­nas. At my uni­ver­si­ty alone, I know near­ly a dozen. It’s led to fun­ny and to con­fus­ing sit­u­a­tions, but it’s always been some­thing to con­nect over. On their own, my names are noth­ing to brag about: Johan­na. Gabriela. Hernán­dez. Schäfer. Johan­na and Schäfer are com­mon names in Ger­many, Gabriela and Hernán­dez are typ­i­cal Peru­vian names. Only togeth­er are they spe­cial. Only togeth­er are they me. But – had I been born 50 min­utes ear­li­er, my name might have been Paula (find out why at the end of the poem).

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Little Girl

By Matti Linke

“old iron gate” by Core­Force is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The day start­ed with a cold waft from a freez­ing night in the mid­dle of March, as the warm light from the slow­ly ris­ing sun filled the old but well-kept house of Mr. Par­nell with bright­ness. It crawled from the kitchen sink over every cup­board to the emp­ty wood­en din­ing table and the flow­ered arm­chair in the lounge, paved its way to the frayed car­pet in the small hall­way and revealed the out­lines of the main door, an incon­spic­u­ous iron gate, cov­ered with branch­es and tendrils.

Although the house includ­ed a few more rooms, you could nev­er see through the heavy drapes behind the win­dows, falling grave­ly from the cur­tain rods. Nei­ther Mr. Par­nell nor his lit­tle girl ever used the rooms, which were filled with antique fur­ni­ture, old paint­ings, sculp­tures, and var­i­ous col­lec­tables. Every lit­tle piece had its prop­er place, well ordered but in their sheer mul­ti­tude sim­ply unfath­omable. The nar­row base­ment, which was most­ly used as a stor­age room for gro­ceries, had anoth­er tiny win­dow, but it was noth­ing more than a vent and way too small to let any light in or out.

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So, You Wanna Be a Writer?!? Beginnings, Endings, and Everything in Between – An Interview with Drew Hayden Taylor

By Maryann Henck

Pho­to Cred­it: Suzanne Carroll

Per­haps you’ve toyed with the idea of becom­ing a pro­fes­sion­al writer, or you sim­ply want to indulge in flights of fan­cy that you lat­er com­mit to paper. Whether you turn your pas­sion into your pro­fes­sion or rekin­dle the embers of that pas­sion every now and then, there’s always some­thing to learn from vet­er­an writ­ers. Since one of my pas­sions is improv, I asked Anish­nawbe writer Drew Hay­den Tay­lor if he’d mind doing an improv inter­view with me. As some­one who is used to script­ing his char­ac­ters’ respons­es, Drew was skep­ti­cal at first but warmed up to the inter­view in no time. Dur­ing our Skype call, I sent him 10 rapid-fire ques­tions one by one, which he, in turn, had to answer off the cuff. The result is a writer’s unadul­ter­at­ed low­down on writ­ing. Read more »