Tag Archives: Creative Writing major

Author Patricia Engel Shares Writing Process and Advice During Campus Visit

Author Patricia Engel visited Widener’s Main Campus Oct. 18 and 19 as a part of the English and creative writing department’s Distinguished Writers Series. The visit, scheduled after the recent publication of her novel and New York Times Editors’ Choice, “The Veins of the Ocean,” gave students the opportunity to question Engel about her writing process.

“Sometimes I have a sense of where the story is going, but it changes,” she said. “Once you lay down the groundwork for a story, the story starts to speak to you, and you have to give it that freedom to go where it wants to go.”

Published by Grove Press in May of 2016, “The Veins of the Ocean” details a “riveting story of a young woman’s journey away from her family’s painful past towards redemption and a freer future.”

Prior to “The Veins of the Ocean,” Engel published two other novels with Grove Press, including “Vida” in 2010 and “It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris” in 2013. She also has work appearing in the New York Times, The Atlantic, A Public Space, Boston Review and Harvard Review, among other publications.

“Each book is its own animal,” Engel said. “As I’m beginning a project, I really have to listen to it and feel what its needs are. Very often I have to change as a writer and as a person to meet those needs.”

Engel has already started thinking about her next novel focusing on a much broader and bigger family saga, though it is still considered to be in the very early stages. It will include similar themes to her previous novels, highlighting an interest in family and immigration.

“In order for me to actually finish writing a book, I have to be obsessed with it,” Engel said. “When it comes down to books that I think people love, that stay with them, that you remember years after years, it’s not a sentence, it’s not an image, it’s not a character, it’s the feeling that the book left you with. That’s what I aim for.”

Words of Wisdom for Widener’s Young Authors

During her Widener visit, Engel individually met with several students for tutorials and visited creative writing and English classes on campus.

“Having someone from a totally different background come in and look at my story offers new perspective I wouldn’t otherwise have,” said Kelsey Styles, a senior communication studies and creative writing major who met one-on-one with Engel.

The author concluded her Widener visit with a public reading of an excerpt from “The Veins of the Ocean.” She also answered questions. Speaking to aspiring writers, Engel emphasized, “Read absolutely everything you can get your hands on. Seek out books nobody is telling you to read. Feed your creative spirit in different ways. You have to be diligent about showing up for your writing. There’s a lot to be said for daydreaming, but it’s worthless if you don’t get it on a page.”


Written by Carlie Sisco

Content and image originally published by “What’s Up @ Widener.”

College Orientation for Humanities Majors

And so it’s the middle of June. The mortarboard caps have been thrown in the air, sensational senior week beach trips have been carried out…now it’s time for college orientation season to begin! We all remember that awkward day of bonding games, peppy tour guides, and motivational speeches, but how much does that day really prepare you for what’s ahead, especially as a Humanities major? What advice or tips would you give to incoming Humanities students as their college experience truly begins with orientation day? Comment and let us know…and then go tell that to any recent graduates in your life about how to deal with what’s coming next!

English vs. Creative Writing: Which Major is For You?

Image via voyant-tools.org

Image via voyant-tools.org

You love words, so you’ve decided to follow your heart and take on that liberal arts degree, but you’re having trouble deciding between a major in English and one in Creative Writing. You don’t really want to do both – a double major sounds like too much – and you’re still partly afraid that your friends are right when they joke about spending the rest of your life asking “Would you like cream and sugar in that?”

The question to really ask, more than what major to pursue, is what you want to get out of it, or do with it, in the long run. What skills are you looking to learn? What kind of reading gets you going?

If what you loved about your high school English classes was the opportunity to read the classics, then English is probably more your pace. The English major is designed to look critically at “Literature with a capital L,” as one of my professors describes it. Your classes will involve close reading, craft analysis, and a lot of critical thinking about works written by men who are probably long-dead.

But what about after college? In the professional world, Milton and Shakespeare might not seem particularly applicable, but the skills you learn from studying them will be. Aside from the more obvious benefits of being able to compose a coherent email, you will be able to effectively communicate thoughts and connect with people.

According to an article by Business Insider, Logitech CEO Bracken Darren likes hiring English majors because “these soft skills come from personal aptitudes and attitudes that are often attained after years of studying the liberal arts…. There’s a thoughtfulness about culture that isn’t emphasized in majors outside literature and the arts.”

If you find yourself more interested in constructing your own work, your home is probably in the Creative Writing department. Your classes will involve reading more recent work within a genre. Milton and Shakespeare are all well and good, and you’ll certainly take your fair share of Lit courses, but they won’t be enough to make you shine in today’s tough market if you’re actually trying to make it as a writer. What classical writers have “always done” and what defines Literature isn’t always what people are doing today.

Professionally speaking, your options will be more specific, and from some perspectives, limited. If you’re looking to write for a living, or are interested in the publishing business, then Creative Writing will look just as good on a résumé as English, but employers outside of the field might respect it less. How does being able to construct a solid narrative or stick to a rhyme scheme make you the right person for the job? This major will teach you critical thinking as well, but it will nurture your creative side even more, and urge you to explore new styles.

No matter which major you choose, it’s hardly an either-or decision. If you choose Creative Writing, most schools will require several English classes; in an English major, you can use your electives to explore Creative Writing and its possibilities.

by Sierra Offutt