Hustlers like Hosseini

As students of writing, we are often given opportunities to learn about writers we may not have ever heard about. Ones with styles unique to our own, who can give us new insight into how we may present our writing to the world or how to improve our own writing techniques. For most of us Eagles, it’s likely that we’ve often been instructed to read, study, and analyze the writings of mainly European or American writers. Although there are numerous talented writers that are American or European, it is best to not forget that writing and writers are just as diverse as the populations of the earth, meaning that we ought not to limit ourselves in our studies. The field of writing is open for all writers of any nation, of any descent.  

Meet, for example, novelist and physician Khaled Hosseini. Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, Hosseini and his family were quite accustomed to the refugee life. When Hosseini was eleven years old, he and his family were forced to relocated to France because their home-land was invaded. Four years later, because they were still unable to return to Kabul, Hosseini’s family applied for and were granted political asylum in the United States, and shortly after were given citizenship.

While Hosseini was studying medicine in the United States, he also worked on his first novel, The Kite Runner, a work of fiction which centers around the life of an adult Afghan refugee who tries to heal from the trauma he experienced as a child. It centers around the themes of the violence and warfare; its effects on family and children; and how those affected can learn to accept and recover from the violence. Hosseini, however, was quite unaware at the time that his first novel would become an international success, becoming available in over sixty countries, and remaining on the bestseller list of his own country for well-over a year. When being interviewed about what aspiring (and veteran) writers can do to improve their craft, he presented us all with his simple, but worthwhile advice:

“Read a lot. Read new authors and established ones, read people whose work is in the same vein as yours and those whose genre is totally different. You’ve heard of chain-smokers. Writers, especially beginners, need to be chain-readers. And write every day. Write about things that get under your skin and keep you up at night.”

Hosseini is just one of the many brilliant examples of writers we may not hear too much about. However, fellow Eagles, let not our sights become narrow to the writers who are just like us. We will never grow that way. Instead, let us collectively open up our minds to exploring writers who are totally different from us. We have so much to learn.    

Calls for Submission

 

We’re passing on this information that was sent to us from Driftwood Press.

Dear students and faculty,

John Updike once said, “Creativity is merely a plus name for regular activity. Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better.” At Driftwood Press, we are actively searching for artists who care about doing it right, or better. We are excited to receive your submissions and will diligently work to bring you the best in literary criticism, short fiction, poetry, graphic narrative, photography, art, and interviews. We’re partial towards prose poetry and stream of consciousness prose, but open to all literary genres and styles.

We currently offer a premium one week response time for an additional fee, as well as the opportunity for all accepted artists to participate in interviews, which are published alongside their work. Many of our writers also go on to become guest editors for our publication.

We’re looking forward to reading your work!

http://www.driftwoodpress.net/

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https://twitter.com/Driftwoodpress

Click here for a link to our latest issue.

Creative Accomplishments

Once again, the semester is a wrap-up; teachers and students have completed finals and are now ready to join family and friends for the holiday celebrations.

After all the stress of semester’s end, here are some reasons to lift that cup of egg nog and yell “Cheers!”

Our 2016 Harbuck Scholarship finalist Barbara Jayne McGaugheny and finalistis Aleyna Rentz, Jennifer Maldonado, and Jenna Lancaster celebrated their recognition with author Amanda Ward for the Harbuck 2016 reading in September. In October, they met and had lunch with our guest author, award winning writer, filmmaker and poet MK Asante, whom we’d brought here on a special grant through South Arts, in partnership with the NEA, and the Georgia Southern College Life Enrichment Committee.

Senior Morgan Davis saw her first publication for a story titled “Progress” a flash piece about eating disorders.  Have a look at If And Only If, the elegant e-journal that published her work this October.  Morgan will also be interviewing award-winning writer Sandra Beasley for this upcoming issue of Wraparound South.

Bryce Knight, another W&L major, had a story accepted in Stymie magazine, coming soon.

green christmas ballAnd junior Aleyna Rentz adds yet another notch to her publication belt by placing her fiction piece, “A Mean Heart” with Deep South Magazine.

This Fall 2015 also said goodbye to two accomplished and ultra-creative W&L majors Courtney Causey and Jennifer Maldonado.  Congratulations, girls!

A good round of applause is also due to alumna Amanda Malone for being nominated this Fall for the celebrated Pushcart prize for her fiction piece, “He’s All Humanity,” which appeared in Cheap Pop in April.

Last, but not least, our alumni Cassie Beasley is now officially a  New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice author for her first novel, an MG page-turner titled Circus Mirandus.

Better still, Cassie’s book just made the New York Times Best Seller list for Middle Grade books for readers 9-12.  Wow, Cassie.  We’re inspired.

The College Life Enrichment Committee has also approved a grant to bring Cassie back to Georgia Southern for a day.  She will be teaching a one day workshop in Young Adult writing, giving some young writers advice on writing careers, and giving a reading and book signing right here in our Statesboro campus in February or early March. Stay tuned for the dates or contact Dr. Terry Welford for more information.

Congratulations W&L students and alumni. Your success makes us proud to teach here, and we wish you all the best for many years to come.  I know that we’ll soon hear plenty more publication news from those who took classes here with us in the Writing & Linguistics Department at Georgia Southern, so if you didn’t get mentioned, don’t fret: we believe in you and know that soon we will hear all about your success.

Cheers.  And Happy Holidays.

Never let anyone tell you no: Asante on rejection, hip hop, and writers who are better than you

Asante Workshop PictureIf you were one of the lucky ones, than you were able to attend the author’s meet and greet today at the Library, where MK Asante quickly turned the event into a hall of wisdom for aspiring writers and music artists.  If you weren’t, here are some nuggets of wisdom:

On Rejection: When one of the participants proposed that being a writer is an exercise in rejection, Asante said, right off, that he wiped all rejections out of his mind.  He would not expand any energies towards that.  “The only time I remember who rejected me is when I’m successful.  Then I’m like… I know who you are.”  You get a feeling listening to him talk that you wouldn’t want to be on the other end of that pointing finger.  MK Asante then went on to give us two examples of why rejections are a waste of time:

  1. When he was 14 years old in the streets of Philadelphia, one of the things he had to do if he wanted a social life was having to walk up to young ladies he’d never met before and try to talk to them and see what happened.  “Some of them wouldn’t even acknowledge your space,” he said. So he moved on to the next one, or the one after that, “and maybe then it works out.” He also reminded us not to take it personally.  “Maybe that girl had a boyfriend, or she was interested in girls. You don’t know.”
  2. When one of his friends applied to film school and got rejected, upon receiving the standard rejection letter, he showed it to Asante and said, “This is only the beginning.”  Thinking this was time for a “move on and forget it” speech, Asante went along with it and told his friend he didn’t need to go to film school, film school is not the only path, etc.  Well, his friend shook his head no.  “You don’t understand. This is just the beginning of the negotiations.”  The next day, the friend sent an email to the Dean of the school, telling him that he really felt like he belonged at that program, etc.  The Dean responded, not in so many words, you and 1,000 other people who get rejected, buddy. Still the friend persevered. To make a long story short, by the end of the next month, the friend had turned a rejection into an acceptance.

Summary: “If you want something bad enough, you will get it. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

On writing, music, and the Beat generation

If you’ve read Asante’s work, you will notice it has a rhythm to it not unlike hip hop.  It is not an accident that the soundtrack of his book, BUCK features such greats as Stevie Wonder, King Mez, Mike Tyson, Maya Angelou, and Talib Kweli.  When asked if music influenced his writing, Asante confessed his love for the Beat generation of poets and writers who freestyled their work inspired by African American jazz musicians: Kerouak, Burroughs, Corso, Ferlenghetti, Ginsberg were the big names and they were inspired by jazz musicians like Dizzy Gillespie, Bird, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis.  “These poets were good,” said Asante, “but when I listened to black poets inspired by jazz, they were great.” Among the favorites, coming up a few times during these conversations is Amiri Baraka.  Now hip hop is inspiring a new generation of writers, and hip hop is about to undergo what Asante calls a resurrection.

Here is a link to a SoundCloud streaming of Asante’s Buck soundtrack.buck-white

On writers who are better than you.

When a student asked Asante what someone should do when confronted with a writer or artist who is much better then you.

“I ask questions,” said Asante without missing a beat.  “The best way to deal with people who are better than you is to ask them questions.”  Ask them how they do or did the thing that you want to do.  Don’t be afraid to ask.  Asante reminded us again and again of the generosity of his own mentors, people like Maya Angelou who certainly had more things to do then to help a young graduate student with his film, yet as these people put time aside for him, so does Asante feel like has to put time aside for the next generation of aspiring writers.

We certainly feel that Asante has been extremely generous to students at Georgia Southern with his many tidbits of wisdom and his time.

If you haven’t had a chance to meet him yet, there is still time.

His reading and performance will be on Thursday October 15 at 7pm in the College of Education auditorium 1115.  

MK Asante’s residency at Georgia Southern University was sponsored in part by a grant from SouthArts in partnership with the NEA and by Georgia Southern University.