“You experience life, you breathe in the universe, and there is a basic human need to do something with it….just to make even a tiny difference because you are here.” These are the words of writer, Joyce Allen who I recently interviewed. I learned more about her evolution as a writer and how she has come to teach classes at The Art School and at her private home in Carrboro. Allen feels that all forms of art are tools to “breathe back out” what is brewing inside of us. Writing is her passion and what she uses to express her own creativity and imagination. Writing helps her release what she has taken in rather than letting it stay unsettled.
As a child, Allen loved to write, but it wasn’t until her early 30’s that she became really serious about it. She enjoys personal essays and short stories but has found that novel writing is her favorite expressive style. Her publications include two novels, Those Who Hold the Threads and Hannah’s House. She is currently finishing the third section of a young-adult fantasy trilogy involving Greek mythology and computer hacking entitled The Threads Trilogy.
In her creative writing classes at TheArtsCenter she uses focused exercises to help her students develop their writing style and learn what elements make a story. She helps them build characters, establish viewpoint and create dialogue. She wants the raw, first draft stuff and urges beginner writers to read their work to each other. Allen shared with me that she does not believe in the concept of writer’s block. She thinks that although you can feel stuck, “nothing you write is ever wasted.” Writing can take a turn for the better once we allow ourselves to trust the process and are not too judgmental of what we create in the moment. One of her classes entitled “Caught in the Act” is set up to help motivate students to continue working on drafts they have started.
Allen shared that there are many writers who have inspired her but she often looks back over Louise Erdrich’s work. She loves books that are well written and enjoys writers who make her really care about the protagonist. Although Allen enjoys writing fantasies, themes in her work often include the power of relationships and incorporate many aspects of every day real life. As she has grown as a writer, she has also found that it is most fun to develop a main character that is not a “carbon copy” of her and feels freer when her characters are unique.
After sitting down with Allen, I was inspired by her lifelong commitment to creativity and her dedication to the art of writing. She has been able to connect with the world through words and she continues to inspire new writers in her classes at TheArtsCenter with her gift…..I might have to sign up!!
By Kate Tennison