Creative writing students showcase their work

Miranda Jacobson, Editor

On Wednesday, March 31, I presented my senior thesis with Sierra Nevada University’s BFA Creative Writing students preparing to graduate this May. While the Zoom presentation was only an hour, the readings by the four of us represented a writing and editing process that spanned over the last few years.

Chair of the Humanities Department, June Saraceno, has been working with us throughout our academic career to cultivate work we’re proud of, but more importantly, to push us to create work that is ready to publish.

“Writing is such a solitary act,” Saraceno said. “[The BFA students] have put their heart and soul into sustained writing and revision over multiple years. I’ve seen a lot of this work and I know how good it is. It’s time to give everybody a taste of how amazing and incredible these student writers are.”

This year we were able to forgo the traditional posters that went with our presentations after Saraceno decided that the focus should be more on the student’s individual readings.

“The poster presentation was actually never very well suited to creative writing,” Saraceno said. “We did that so there could be a standard way to present work across the board. But since we’re doing things virtually now, my thought was we could suspend something that isn’t really integral to the field of literature.”

Senior Kaylee Wahlstrom used the time she would’ve spent on her poster practicing her reading of the screenplay she is currently working on titled “Jenni.”

The animated adventure film follows a young boy named Eric who is on a quest to rescue Jenni the Genie from his video game after his mother trapped her there.

“The theme for me really is reality versus escapism,” Wahlstrom said. “It’s about the boy’s want to escape from the real world, but in the end, he actually wants to return home. He’s able to see the value of it all.”

Wahlstrom has been working on her screenplay all year, after taking a number of independent study course credits under Saraceno’s supervision. As graduation quickly approaches, Wahlstrom is still feeling nervous about sharing her work.

“I’m proud of what I’m writing and I’m glad it’s almost over,” she said. “To almost be graduated. Even though my final product of the screenplay isn’t due yet, the reading will take off loads of pressure.”

Senior Jennifer Voorhies was able to read from her manuscript “A New Vision: The Birth of a Modern Mystic,” which is a work of historical fiction loosely based on the life of Helena Blavatsky.

“The process has been difficult,” Voorhies said. “It feels like an endless amount of research.”

Voorhies prepared for her reading through plenty of practice and truncating sections so the reading felt cohesive. One of the bigger challenges for the readers was transitioning from in-person readings to Zoom.

“More people can attend,” Voorhies said. “On the other hand, I miss in-person interaction. I’m feeling both nervous and excited. No matter what, it’s a great opportunity to bond with other creative writing students and speak our words.”

Senior Lauren Rose also felt the Zoom reading was a great opportunity for those who wouldn’t normally be able to attend in-person.

“As a distance learner, I couldn’t have participated in the reading in person, so I’m comfortable with the chosen format.”

Her YA novel, which she began when she was only 12 years old, brought listeners into a whole new world that mixes the real world with fantasy.

“I’ve barely shared bits of my novel with anyone, so it’s very nerve-wracking to read it to a whole group of strangers,” she said. “It’s the work I’ve invested the most time in and care the most about. So it’s a very vulnerable experience.”