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The Department of English and Foreign Languages at Waynesburg University will hold a Creative Writing Workshop for high school students in grades nine through twelve Friday, Nov. 13, at 10 a.m. with check-in at 9:30 a.m. The deadline for registration is Friday, Oct. 9.

The event will feature Julia Paganelli, a poet and Waynesburg University alumna who is currently pursuing a master’s degree at the University of Arkansas.

The goal of the Creative Writing Workshop is to give high school students the opportunity to engage their imaginations and strengthen their writing skills through writing exercises provided by workshop facilitators.

Activities will include two workshops facilitated by Department of English and Foreign Languages faculty and students. During the student workshops, teachers will attend a workshop facilitated by Paganelli. Following the workshops, there will be a luncheon and student reading. The cost per student is $5. 

Paganelli is the author of a poetry chapbook, Blush Less, which focuses on the lives of young women in Appalachia. Other recent publications include poetry in Hobart, The Madison Review, BOAAT, Connotation Press and The Chautauqua Literary Journal.

Her work with the Bonner Program at Waynesburg greatly influenced her writing about Appalachia, as did her work with the Greene County Food Security Partnership.

Paganelli holds a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Waynesburg University.

For more information, contact Amy Randolph at 724-852-3430 or by email at

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Ashley Wise, Assistant Director of University Relations

724.852.7675 or

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First semester freshman year, I anxiously sat waiting for my second class of the day to begin. My Survey of Music course had just let out and as I trekked across campus, gasping for air as I climbed the hill to Buhl Hall, I wondered what else was in store for me.

High school was over. College was a new animal.

I took a seat in the front near the door, not wanting to draw attention to myself, but still wanting to get as much as I could from the lecture. As students filed through the door, I pulled out my fresh notebook, a mechanical pencil and my agenda, making sure everything was labeled properly (some things wouldn’t change) and that I had what I needed.

When I finally looked up, a man shuffled into the room whistling as he closed the door behind him. He set his things on the desk in the front of the room and then turned around to write his name on the board.

“My name is Dr. Bob Randolph,” he said over his shoulder as he wrote. “But you can call me Dr. Bob.”

When I enrolled at Waynesburg, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do with my life, so I declared my major as “exploring.” During freshman orientation, I met with my given advisor. As we sat across from each other she showed me my schedule for the semester, which had been put together based on my interests and general requirements. Her red pen pointed at each line, creating a small dot at the beginning of each course name.

·Survey of Music

·College Composition I

·Environmental Biology

·Fiat Lux

When her pen settled on a line that read “Introduction to Creative Writing” a sudden surge of excitement took over. I was going to write.

Dr. Bob turned around and gave a reassuring smile to the room full of unsure freshman students, settling on my own nervous face for a moment before continuing. He told us what the class was about and the more he talked, the more drawn in I became. We were going to write fiction, poetry and a small memoir. I could not wait to get started. The first thing we would write would be a flash fiction story—500 words, due the following week.

I became intent on creating a suspense filled award winner. The idea for the story came quickly and I feverishly typed out the plot line. My story was about a young woman whose husband had gone to war and died, or so she thought. She mourned over their pictures together, remembering the day she watched him climb onto the plane. One stormy night she wandered out to their old creaky barn and found a letter from him. He was alive. They weren’t safe. He would send for her.

As funny as it all sounds to me now as I look back on that semester (and that ridiculous story), my freshman self was intrigued—emotionally invested. Full of new ideas and concepts for stories, I had found a passion. By the middle of that semester I was in my advisor’s office proudly declaring my major as English, creative writing.

What I have learned as a creative writing major at Waynesburg is far more than how to write a compelling story. I have learned how to incorporate new ideas into otherwise tedious writing, I have learned how to show emotion in a way that relates to those I am trying to appeal, and I have learned how to write grammatically correct, effective pieces of work.

Story-telling, I have found, is an art form. Through it, we become inspired, we feel and we dream. Creative writing is more than writing poetry, fiction and nonfiction. It is observing and understanding the world and those in it; it’s sharing experiences with people from various demographics; and it’s coming up with new ways to explain the things that affect us all as human beings.

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