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GRCC hosts an “Author vs Editor” Lecture

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Anderson and Zahrt presenting their tips at Monday's lecture.

By Leah Spoolstra – The Collegiate Staff

On Monday, The “Author vs. Editor” lecture gave the audience insight into how writing, editing, and publishing correlate to one another.

Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters (GLCL) held the event, which was sponsored by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. It was part of the Writers Squared series that happens four times a year.

The program director for Writers Squared, Phillip Sterling, chose writers Brandon James Anderson and Ken Zahrt to speak at the “Author vs. Editor” lecture because he thought that their connection is important for writing.

“We have people who are writers and who have some kind of connection,” Sterling said. “They play off of that connection, whether it’s a collaboration, whether it’s a friendship, whether it’s the same theme or the same kind of geographical location.”

At the start of the lecture, Sterling stepped out to address the audience about the importance of writing.

“Humanities is not just like the arts where we are talking about literature,” Sterling said. “It is talking about how that literature plays a role in our daily lives, in terms of humanities. We’re talking about the life of what it means to be a writer – what it means to interact in a literary way.”

After a brief introduction, Zahrt began reading an excerpt from his second novel, “The Nature of Plots,” which was published in May of 2017. Zahrt discussed the side of the writer and how the role of the editor helps him in the process of writing and publishing his novels. During the process of writing his first novel, “Odd Man Outlaw,” he continuously revisited the manuscript for edits.

“From a writer’s standpoint, sometimes it can be frustrating to get your work published,” Zahrt said. “It can feel like there is a curtain drawn and you don’t know what is happening back there or who is pulling the strings and what they are looking for.”

After answering a few questions, Anderson switched the focus of the lecture to the editing and publishing side of writing.

He began by reading the editor’s introductions from the pair’s second and third editions of their annual literary journal, “The Old Northwest Review.”

Anderson divulged that being an editor has shaped his role as a publisher and a writer.

“Having been on the rejected side, it is something that I try to be mindful for when rejecting a writer,” Anderson said. “When I write, sometimes I have to resist the urge to hit backspace. When I am writing, I doubt myself.”

One of the students who attended, Allison Bliss, was excited about how the lecture could help her to get published.

“My primary goal in life is to be a writer. My first goal is to get a work of poetry published,” Bliss said. “In sixth grade, I decided that I wanted to write. Nothing else makes me feel more okay with everything that is going on in the world and in my head the way that writing does.”

The Interim President of the Board of Directors for GLCL, Lisa McNeilley, said that she hopes that students will take an interest in writing to grow professionally and personally.

“Our long-term goal is to build a community of writers who support each other, who work together, and share ideas and resources so that our whole community benefits from the creative output,” McNeilley said. “We live in the information age. So (students) abilities to gather, synthesize and share information is your key to success and writing is a vital part of that.”

Zahrt understands the struggles that students face to write. In his career, he said that he doesn’t give time to writing, but he makes time for it.

“I don’t know why we do it. I don’t know how it gets done, but we still do it,” Zahrt said. “Force the hours into the day. If I stopped all of the living, then there would be nothing to write about.”