Corban Kids Rock!

Posted on November 20, 2008. Filed under: Christian, Corban College, fiction, student writers, writing |

The other night, I was a guest lecturer at a small private college outside Salem, Oregon. Corban used to be Western Baptist College and I’ve presented there many times at writing conferences. This time, however, I was talking with a group of fiction writers who were taking a credit course from my pal and fellow writer, Gina Ochsner.
Gina has done what a lot of us dream about: won two Oregon Book Awards, won the O. Henry prize, the Ray Carver Prize and lots of other awards. She’s been published in The New Yorker, people.
So what was I doing there? I thought I’d be fielding halfhearted, elementary questions from bored young adults who’d rather be doing something else. After I told them everything I know about fiction (around 30 minutes worth), I realized these students were serious writers. They soaked up the info and looked genuinely interested.
Then we did a daring experiment. I asked if any of them would like to read a page from the assigned story they’d just handed in. I thought, OK one or two hotshots will volunteer.
The most incredible thing happened. Although Gina said they didn’t workshop their stuff as part of the class, every student read the first page or so of his or her story. I commented, Gina commented. Most took the suggestions the way they took my lecture–as if they couldn’t hear enough.
There were some talents in that class. There were some so-so writers and one guy who was angry and sullen about the fact that we didn’t “get” his story. All in all, though, I was the one who benefited. I got to hang out with young vibrant voices, some of whom will no doubt be famous one day. They reminded me of the true work we are doing as Christian writers. We pour out our souls on the page and somehow God uses it. Corban kids, you were magical. Thank you for making me young.

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