Affiliate Instructor of Writing
In one of her essays in Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose, Flannery O’Connor states, “If the writer believes that our life is and will remain essentially mysterious…such a writer will be interested in what we don’t understand rather than in what we do. He will be interested in possibility rather than probability.” It is this idea of possibility—of discovery—rather than probability that I try to promote in my classes.
I encourage my students to investigate different topics, different ideas, different research methods, to find new ways of expression. In a discussion of her short story “Real Estate” Lorrie Moore says, “In constructing this tale, I set the main narrative and a secondary narrative running simultaneously toward a particular intersection; then I let them crash there.” It is this intersection of parallel worlds and people, the piecing together of a puzzle—turning the pieces this way and the other—that excites in writers the desire to see how and if the pieces fit together and if they do, what kind of picture it makes. This process of exploration is what I invite my students to embrace through the various essays that they write and revise as well as through the various essays that they read and critique.
When I hear my students express fear of exploration and fear of the revision process, I tell them to keep writing—always keep writing—because, as Annie Dillard states in The Writing Life, “That page will teach you to write.” My hope is that students will continue to explore and allow the page to persist in its teaching, even in life post-Loyola.
For more information about my professional activities, see my curriculum vitae (pdf format).