“In Process: A Creative Writing Event Series” talks writing, cults, and living with ALS


Photo and Story by Reana Gibson/Contributing Writer

This past Thursday, the “In Process: A Creative Writing Event Series,” a series that brings together  “aspiring writers and MTSU students… with accomplished authors of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, memoir and translation,” according to MTSU News, continued at the Sam Ingram Building with Dr. Jennifer Kates as the guest reader.

Kates did her reading of “Jesus Interrupted,” a partially fictionalized memoir she is writing about her friend Dave Warnock and his experience with religion. Warnock had a plan to enter journalism, but finding religion changed the course of his life as he spent three decades in a religious cult.

“I was unaware of how many people have been through an experience like this where they’ve been sucked in and then spit out of a system,” she stated.

The memoir covers his life from his junior year of high school all the way up to the most recent events of his life. After he revealed his struggles with ALS, a rare neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain, the end of the memoir was changed from its original ending.

This was Dr. Kates’s first time being a reader for the series.

Dr. Claudia Barnett, creator of the program, discussed how the writing series began.  She said that two years ago, a friend of hers named Jenny Webb, a playwright from Los Angeles, came to MTSU and they did a staged reading of her play-in-progress “Footprints” during her class. Dr. Barnett said that students loved that a real writer was there and that she got to listen to what they had to say about Webb’s play. At the same time, Barnett and the creative writing department were planning this event series and started thinking that “in process” would be a good theme for it.

Soon after, Dr. Arroyo joined the faculty and the staff increased along with the ideas on how to make the series work.

“We were thinking about how to create a community of writers coming regularly, because when you have an event now-and-then, people forget,” Barnett said.

The series has nine events, two open mic nights hosted by Dr. Arroyo, two faculty readers and the rest are national or local professional writers that come to MTSU.

“It’s so real to see a writer with something that’s not complete,” Kates said at the end of the evening.

“In Process: A Creative Writing Series” is held every Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at the Sam Ingram Building. Next week’s readers will be Kory and Kelsey Wells, a duo that combines poetry and music.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Brandon Black, email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com.

For more updates, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter at @Sidelines_Life.

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