Friday, November 2, 2012

Meagan Cass encourages students to discover what moves them

Almost everyone who has tried their hand at fiction has heard the advice: Write what you know. By doing so, the thinking goes, the writer will be able to draw upon the familiar, and then the prose will begin to fly.

Meagan Cass is an author and assistant professor of English at the University of Illinois Springfield. Many of her short stories contain autobiographical elements — in particular, her experiences playing sports while growing up in upstate New York. While Cass does mine her own past for material, she puts a caveat on the “write what you know” axiom.

“The trick is writing about what you don’t know about what you know. Because if you only write about what you know, there wouldn’t be any element of discovery,” Cass says.

In her creative writing and short fiction writing courses, she tells her students to focus on subjects that interest and inspire them on an individual level. Rather than simply writing a rote description of historical events, Cass encourages them to use what they know as a starting point from which invention and creativity can spring.

Cass was featured by Springfield's Own Magazine on November 2, 2012.

Read the article online