April 21, 2023 | FEATURES | By Katie Rowley
On April 13, 16 of the best creative writers on Colorado College’s campus sat anxiously in the first two rows of the Max Kade theater, the smaller-lesser-known amphitheater located on the third floor of Armstrong Hall, with myself among them.
What were we anxiously waiting for? At 5 p.m., the senior thesis reading was set to commence. And these writers had spent the last Block-and-a-half holed up in libraries and coffee shops and bedrooms and writing.
In Block 6, the cohort taking the two senior creative writing thesis blocks had one assignment: turn in a nearly complete first draft of our thesis manuscript.
For some, such as Conner Crosby ‘23, this meant the first part of his ambitious five-part detective novel that includes a lot of Elvis Presley trivia. Other students opted to turn in collections of superhero short stories or nonfiction biographies on hockey player Alex Ovechkin. I submitted 117 pages of creative nonfiction essays and poems that focus on girlhood and maternal relationships.
An eclectic range of work, that’s for sure.
Our task for Block 7 has been to finish these manuscripts. To turn them into something publishable, or at least somewhat complete. After a meeting with Steve Hayward, professor of the Creative Writing Senior Project blocks, in which he instructed me to write around 30 more pages, I found myself doing a lot more writing. And my classmates were doing the same.
We didn’t have the entire Block to retreat back to our alcoves and bury our heads in journals and laptops and words. No, we had to start preparing for the reading on April 13 – a date that came sooner than expected.
Despite my best efforts to not procrastinate, I completed the second draft of my thesis the morning of the reading. After sending a 154-page word document to Professor Hayward five minutes before class started, I was faced with the task of deciding what pages I would read during my five minutes of allotted time that evening. A task made trickier by the fact that my parents would be in the audience.
But, somehow, by 5 p.m. I had selected the paragraphs to read. I pre-gamed the event with a shot or two to calm my nerves, and I sat in Max Kade theater, watching my parents and friends flood in through the side doors and find seats in the rows behind me.
I was reading last, so I had almost two hours until I really needed to be nervous about what the audience, namely my parents, thought about my writing.
The event started with a brilliant introduction by creative writing professor, and my favorite professor, Brandon Shimoda. Just like that, we were off.
Poets Julia Nichols ‘24 and Henry Freedman ‘23 began the night with their beautiful lines and stanzas before we plunged into the hybrid works from Katie Kamio ‘23 and Maeve Goodrich ‘23.
As someone who has the absolute honor of having multiple blocks with both Kamio and Goodrich, I was overjoyed to hear the culmination of their writing and, maybe due to the alcohol consumption or just the beautiful words, I did cry after their readings.
The night steadily flowed along, including stories of graphic alien porn from Sierra Drossman’s ‘23 autofiction novel and two very entertaining albeit different sports related pieces from basketball player Jackson Tanner ‘23 and lacrosse player Quinn Guevara ‘23.
Before I knew it, 14 other writers had presented and Carlee Castillo ‘23, my amazing roommate and writing peer, stood up to read an essay from her nonfiction collection ruminating on her childhood. This meant I was next.
Nerves set in as Castillo read her way through her work and her five minutes flew by in seconds. I shakily made my way up to the podium, wishing I had taken one more shot.
I don’t remember any of my reading, my anxiety blacking the memory all out. But, according to my friends, parents, professors, and other random audience members, I did great.
What I do remember is, when introducing Professor Hayward to conclude the event, I called him my second favorite professor, a remark he continues to hold against me.
The night ended with a class party at Goodrich’s off-campus house, and we partied all night long, or at least until like 10:30 p.m. for those (me) who were very tired.
Where do these creative writers and their very long manuscripts go now? Well, we write more, we edit, we acquire agents and pursue publishing deals. We graduate, or we stick around for another semester (you’re not getting rid of me yet). Some of us go to grad school, Others, like Sam Davis ‘23, pursue acting. Regardless of where we all end up, each and every one of us should be incredibly proud of the work we have completed and showcased during these two thesis blocks.