MOUNT OLIVE – “There is nothing like responding to other people’s writing to inspire you to do your own,” said Mount Olive College adjunct English professor Thomas Clere. “Wordsworth and Coleridge, for a famous example, inspired each other to write subjective and visionary poetry, with each poet finding his own distinctive style and subject. As a writer responding to the work of others, you also develop a keener eye and ear in editing for conciseness and clarity.”
Members of the Mount Olive College Chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society, meet faithfully every other week, even throughout summer, to present their creative writing pieces to one another. The meetings are fairly informal; they sit at a large table, constructively critiquing each other’s work, laughing at jokes and discussing things as they come. They are referred to as the Writers’ Group. Mount Olive College English major John O’Quinn is a published writer, and a valued member of the group. “The Writers’ Group at Mount Olive College is a small assembly of serious literary enthusiasts. We have stories to tell, and we help each other to tell those stories more effectively.”
Leonard Moore, assistant professor of English and acclaimed poet, offers invaluable professional insight to students and fellow professors in the group. “I like the fact that the Writers’ Group provides greater opportunities for English majors and students who minor in creative writing.” Recent Mount Olive College English graduate Sharon Mervin is proof of that greater opportunity. “Professor Moore invited me to submit some of my writing to a journal that he was editing. I submitted the first flash fiction story that I’d ever written, “The Invitation,” and it got published!”
Dr. Sarah Clere, professor of English, has been a vital part of the Writers’ Group since its inception. “I think it has definitely helped students by giving them the discipline and incentive to write for the group. I also think the feedback has been helpful.” Senior English major Rebecca Orta agrees. “Knowing that I am receiving genuine feedback gives me the self-confidence to submit my work to publishers. It also has improved my grammar and other areas we English majors thrive on.”
“While it can be a bit unnerving to have your writing broken down and every word scrutinized, this is exactly what a writer needs,” explained junior English major Rebecca Moore, a new member of the Writers’ Group. “Any artist does not need to be spoon-fed. We need truth and constructive criticism. In the Writers’ Group we get both.”
There are no incentives for joining the Writers’ Group. Members meet because they enjoy writing for writings sake, and they believe the input received from professors and fellow students can help them improve. O’Quinn thinks the best advice any writer can take is to give their own work the benefit of the doubt. “Be persistent. Maybe your story didn’t win the cash prize, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great story. Let the reader decide. Never give up. If you are a writer, you already know.”
Sigma Tau Delta has over 800 active chapters located in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and the Caribbean. There are more than 1,000 Faculty Sponsors and approximately 9,000 members inducted annually.
Mount Olive College is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The college, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Goldsboro, Research Triangle Park, Washington and Jacksonville. For more information, visit www.moc.edu.