Friday, March 23, 2012

Former Emerging Writer-in-Residence gets book contract and offers advice for Randolph students

Anthony D’Aries arrived at Randolph College last year with two tasks ahead of him. The first task was to teach a course for seven weeks. Second, he wanted to finish a book he had worked on for years.

Bunny Goodjohn, a Randolph English professor, dropped him off at an apartment where he would stay on campus. When she returned to check on him a few hours later, she found him sitting on the floor surrounded by copies of his manuscript.

“When I got to Randolph, I had a big chunk of material. I was at a point where I felt I needed to print all this and physically cut things out and move them around,” said D’Aries, the College’s 2011 Emerging Writer-in-Residence. “By the end of my time there, I felt really solid about it.”

D’Aries has now secured a publisher for The Language of Men, the memoir he polished at Randolph. The book is due out from Hudson Whitman / Excelsior College Press this summer.
Watch this video to hear Anthony D'Aries read from The Language of Men during his time as Randolph College's Visiting Writer-in-Residence in 2011. At the time, his memoir was under the working title Aural History.

Goodjohn said D’Aries’ achievement demonstrates the value that students can receive from Randolph College’s Emerging Writer-in-Residence program. Each year, that program invites an author who has recently received a master of fine arts but has not yet published a full-length book to teach a creative writing class at Randolph.

“Working with someone who is a fine writer, who is pursuing the grail of publication but has not yet found it, makes the process seem more do-able for a novice,” Goodjohn said. “If students can work with an emerging writer who then completes that emerging process and becomes a published author, it becomes more real.”

The experience also helps students understand the hard work required for becoming a published writer, Goodjohn said.

D’Aries said his time at Randolph provided him with an excellent opportunity to complete his book while also working with talented students. “The students at Randolph brought a lot to the class. A lot of them were strong writers to start with,” he said. “I was really excited to work with all the students.”

Advice for Aspiring Writers

D’Aries offered a few bits of advice for his former students based on his experience since he visited Randolph:

     1. Trust your instincts. “You have to really trust what you're writing about, even if it seems totally irrelevant. If certain things keep appearing in your work, your subconscious is telling you something.”

     2. Avoid getting too much feedback too early in the writing process. Give yourself time to develop your voice. “You still need feedback, but getting that too early can be more stunting than helpful.”

     3. Don’t put too much faith in writing habits—such as what time of day to write and how to get started—just because they have worked for others. “You've got to develop your own habits.”

     4. Don’t be too much of a perfectionist. “You have to get to a certain point where you allow yourself to be satisfied with it, where you allow yourself to feel like it’s finished.”