In an increasingly crowded literary marketplace and with the shift to new mediums and self-publishing, how does an aspiring author stand out from the rest? For Antioch University Adjunct Professor in Literature and Creative Writing, Greg Belliveau, the answer is found where it has always been found: “The most important element, in my opinion, is the mastery of craft – and that is simply: the mastery of the sentence.” Belliveau explains further, “It is the delight with language, word choice, the practicing of surprise – like a poet – on the sentence level. One cannot but be noticed if one is writing that way.”
With the fairly recent advent of ePublishing and other forms and mediums of high-tech storytelling, many writers find themselves faced with too many choices and a paralyzing fear of committing to one genre or another. How does the modern day writer deal with these changes? According to Belliveau, a 2008 Christopher Isherwood Grant Recipient, these challenges aren’t anything new: “I’m sure the same arguments that are bouncing around today on both sides of the eBook/self-publishing debate are the same that were bouncing around when the printing press first entered the mainstream. There are pros and cons to all of it…. A writer who understands the craft of writing and understands how to create a good story – no matter what the medium – will always make her way.”
The low-residency programs in Literature and Creative Writing at Antioch University are devoted not only to the education of literary artists but to community engagement and the pursuit of social justice. The rights and ethical responsibilities of creative writers are addressed in these programs, along with practical career concerns related to the business of writing and publishing.
Belliveau tries to paint the picture in practical terms: “Publishing is like a professional sport. There are thousands of very good writers who are studying, reading, and practicing, waiting for their opportunity for an editor to read their work. How much are you doing? It’s always been competitive. It’s always been amazingly hard.” But he encourages the developing scribe not to lose heart: “The road has always been narrow; publishing has always been difficult. There has never been a time when it has not been. None of that is important. This art form has… and always will be… about: the art of words on a page, artfully arranged… to do something to the reader.”
Visit Antioch University Online’s program in Literature and Creative Writing for more information.