by: Tatum Larsen
photo by Kate Rutz-Robbins
The UCI Literary Journalism Department hosted a “Tell Stories That Matter” summit to help the wider community in their quest to become better storytellers in the humanities corridor on October 26th.
The event, largely hosted by Director Barry Siegel and Associate Director of the Literary Journalism Department Patricia Pierson, aimed to equip members of the community with writing, interviewing and research skills that are typically exclusive to literary journalism majors. .
“We would like to share with you some of the lessons that we teach our students on a daily basis during the school year,” said Siegel. “We would also like to share with you some of the obstacles we ourselves face as writers and how to overcome them.”
The theme of the summit was to find your voice while staying true to a story. The summit, which focused on demystifying the art of writing, also served as an introduction to the soon-to-open Center for Story Telling, which will provide a place for individuals to share their stories.
The center will strive to help people get their stories off the ground by finding their narrative flow.
“Our aim is to introduce you to or deepen your introduction to our program and to the field of literary journalism. And most importantly, to introduce you to the art and crafts of storytelling, ”said Siegel.
Siegel said the UCI is known for employing the most talented and vetted non-fiction teachers in the country.
The Center for Story Telling, which will provide hands-on assistance from UCI professors in an on-campus lab, will have the writing, research and recording materials needed by students and the wider community to tell the stories. stories that interest them.
During the summit, attendees learned from literary journalism professors how to bring their stories to life on the page.
“The benefit of being a writer is taking what makes you ‘strange’ and turning it into what makes you a writer,” said associate professor and author Hector Tobar.
Participants shared stories of awkward adolescence, grief, depression, and reuniting with long lost family members. Through collective sharing, their stories found a way into creative discussion and then into further development of writing.
This evolution continued during the second part of the seminar, during which the professors got together for three targeted writing workshops.
The first workshop was with Professors Tobar and Miles Corwin. They claimed that the best way to fight writer’s block is to find a thesis but let the story unfold on its own.
During the second workshop, Professors Amy DePaul and Erika Hayasaki explained that honesty is the key to building trust with your audience.
“You owe it to your audience to tell them when you don’t know,” she said.
In the third workshop, Professors Siegel and Amy Wilentz discussed how to make personal stories connect with an audience. They explained that using your own voice when presenting research or intricate details makes a story more digestible for an audience.
The summit ended with all the teachers highlighting how anyone can be a storyteller with the right tools and support.
“I wasn’t expecting much from the seminar,” said volunteer student Chloe Mosier. “But in the end, I learned that anyone can really tell their story.”