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Local writers discuss trials and triumphs of writing

The Pro Writers Series, running the length of the semester, works to provide student at Washington State University Vancouver with personal insight into the authorial process. The series intends to provide insight into more than just writing, including the ways authors interact both creatively and commercially with other writers, and gives the authors a chance to discuss the successes and challenges of being a writer.

On Feb. 17 Washington State University Vancouver hosted author Molly Gloss as part of the ongoing Professional Writers Series. The purpose of the series is to introduce students to award winning authors from many different genres.
Gloss is the bestselling-author of The Jump-Off Creek, The Dazzle of Day, and Wild Life. Gloss has earned numerous awards for her writing including an Oregon Book Award, a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award, and the PEN West Fiction Prize. Most of Gloss’s novels feature a female character in the Old West.
The event titled “Reinventing the Western” served a packed room in the Library Building with many more people in chairs outlining the room or standing. Gloss began her talk with her own personal background. Gloss grew up in Portland and her childhood was heavily influenced by cowboy movies she would watch at the local movie theaters.
After she moved when she was 12 years old, Gloss began to read cowboy novels. Gloss always had to imagine herself as a boy to be a part of the stories she was reading. She began to notice that women were almost entirely absent. If women were present in the stories they would often be the reluctant pioneer holding back the protagonist cowboy or would be used as the reason to end the cowboy’s solo adventures and hang up his hat.

Gloss continued to speak about the western myth. She describes how our nation is young compared to other world nations and does not have epic myths and tales such as Beowulf. Instead, we have a small window of roughly 28 years where the American hero is the cowboy. “This is America’s myth and hero,” she said. Gloss also says that this hero is not gone, but rather has just now gone into space or started running for political office, and to consider how often you may see a candidate with a big belt buckle, white cowboy hat and bolo tie. This is the western myth in present day society and is the tale from our past that helps describe how we got to today.
Gloss then read some paragraphs from her new book Falling From Horses and concluded her presentation with a Q&A. During the Q&A topics of her writing process, research process, inspiration, routine and opinion on other works were all discussed.

When asked why she enjoyed coming to colleges to speak, Gloss said, “I enjoy the younger audience, my normal fan based is generally older, and it’s great to get a different view and perspective on things. Younger crowds also like to ask interesting questions, and I like to be challenged.”

Howard Aaron is the professor behind the Professional Writers Series and explained why the series is important to campus life. “There is great local talent nearby in Portland and putting on these events allows for students to meet authors whom they may not normally get a chance to. It gives a glimpse into possible career trajectory for some students, and it brings awareness to our campus. Universities are resources for all, not just students, we don’t want to be an isolated entity.”

Three more events are ahead throughout the semester: Kevin Sampsell and “Writing Across Genres” on Mar. 24, Martha Grover with “The Modern Memoir” on Apr. 7, and Shawn Levy will conclude the series with “Literature & Legends” on Apr. 21.
Every event is held in The Library Building, Room 240 from 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. For more information Howard Aaron can be contacted at haaron823@gmail.com.

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