"The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake a sense of wonder in the world."
~G. K. Chesterton
An Education for the Working Writer
The program is built as An Education for the Working Writer. So what is a working writer? A working writer reads. A working writer writes. A working writer knows the realities of his/her discipline and professional field and continually develops both the knowledge and changing skills necessary to live their own life of letters, contributing through their work to their communities-societal and artistic.
Too often, students who really want to write don't pursue their passion for fear of having to answer the question above. We believe that with access to both aesthetic and practical training, someone who wants to write can create a life that fulfills this desire to create and provide a paycheck. Are we promising a literary miracle? Overnight success? Getting to meet Oprah?
No. No. And No.
Professional Skills & Real-Life Experience
What is uniquely offered by Creative Writing at Longwood are opportunities that provide both the chance to learn fundamental professional skills and get real-life experience for those students who want to pursue a life as a working writer.
Manuscript preparation, researching markets, a writer's correspondence, preparing for a public reading, and imaginative ways to handle rejection are just some of the topics covered in our required undergraduate professional courses.
Home to the prestigious Dos Passos Prize for Fiction, The Dos Passos Review, Briery Creek Press, and the Liam Rector First Book Prize for Poetry, Longwood has a time-honored tradition of recognizing writers who work at their craft, creating literary lives. A strong reading series brings in nationally recognized writers for readings and sit-downs with students; recent readers included past poet laureate Ted Kooser, award-winning novelist Kent Haruf, poet Aaron Smith and memoirist Dinah Lenney.
But at Longwood, students don't just sit and listen.
- Annual student readings to benefit local charities allow students to publicly share their work while beginning to understand the impact they can have on society as working artists.
- Following the Jeffersonian edict, "Govern or be governed," our students are trained in arts advocacy and learning arts administration is mandatory.
- The Dos Passos Review, unique in the field for its level of student involvement, as well as our literary press, provide students the very real experience of literary publishing.
- Biweekly social gatherings bring students and faculty together as writers, as colleagues, all, as Hemingway said, "apprentices in a craft we'll never master."
Our instructors are all published authors, working writers themselves, dedicated not only to their own work but also to the vocation of teaching.
Our teaching writers adhere to high artistic standards within their own work and, likewise, expect ambitious efforts from their students.
Advanced workshops and independent work are encouraged. Workshops are small, a maximum of fifteen students, and student interaction is highly animated. We believe that it is our role as teaching writers to provide a balance between offering constructive criticism and providing support for student effort. Students critique each other's writing -- poems, short stories, essays, screenplays, and plays - as well as examining exemplary works of contemporary literature, thus learning that such models are crucial to any writer's development.
The integration of the Creative Writing Program and the English Department encourages students to be good analytic readers as part of their training to become complex and substantive writers.
Entrance & Course of Study
Students normally enter the program through introductory workshops, which allows them to explore cross-genre writing in poetry, fiction, and drama. In subsequent courses, students will be given the opportunity to specialize in one genre. Moving on to advanced level workshops, in a genre of their choosing, a student will begin to create a body of their own work, which will serve as their senior portfolio, tangible proof of their beginning steps on the journey to a life of letters.
Small Class Size
The small size of our classes and our university will allow you access to faculty and students, the LU writing community, not available at larger institutions.
Such a size allows us as faculty to sit down and truly get to know all of our students, helping you personally shape your education and internship in such a way to fit your particular idea of the writing life.
Our graduates have gone on to prestigious MFA programs at NYU, University of Pittsburgh, The MFA Writing Seminars at Bennington College, and Film School at the University of Southern California, among others, as well as into jobs in arts administration at such places as the Wolftrap Center for the Performing Arts, into teaching at both the secondary and university levels, and into jobs in marketing, promotion and public relations.
Our students have proven themselves as citizen-writers, working actively on campus and in the community, affecting real change in the world already, including being instrumental in raising $40,000 last year to save the local domestic violence shelter.
We believe a writer's professional life begins the minute they join us at Longwood, and that you shouldn't have to wait for graduate school to have opportunities in publishing, editing, and arts advocacy. To that end, we strive to provide a real and transferable set of skills, combining always with the aesthetic of the workshop, that allows each student to shape a personally unique life of letters.
The combination of workshop rigor and literature as well as membership in an intimate active writing community gives, we believe, our students the early professional edge. And we welcome you to join us!