CRAFT OF LITERARY 1.2: Featuring Kate Gregory – “Pulitzer Prizes as Bridge Between Journalistic and Literary Arts”

Journalists and creative writers often find themselves at odds. The former follows AP style and a flat, austere sensibility toward sentence structure and detail, letting the facts dominate. The latter firmly believes in description, artfully manipulating language to create imagistic pieces that breathe life into characters and places that only exist – at the outset – in the writer’s mind.

All journalists have little time for creativity and some simply don’t have the patience for it. Yesterday’s stories are too often gone in tomorrow’s garbage, and every day reporters run, harried and without coffee, out of their warm beds toward a deadline that seems paradoxically trapped in their own shadows. Novelists, poets, and the like have the relative luxury of time, and they spend it reading, usually, and then as their ideas, like children, are born and take shape, they carefully craft masterpieces that may take as long as years; they have the singular gift of defining their own limits.

The Pulitzer Prizes are so good at reminding all of us that no matter how our attitudes and approaches toward writing may differ, journalists and literary writers have a common, important, remarkable talent for relating the human experience in a way that render audiences forever changed. Moreover, they provide their fellow writers with a new arsenal of inspiring materials – work that compels even the most experienced writer to further hone his or her skills in the hopes of writing a narrative so strong and unique that it weaves itself inextricably into the tapestry of our culture’s cumulative tale.

I’d challenge journalists to stop the mad dash for a moment, if they can, to pick up Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See and note the palpable truths of life in World War II-era Europe. I’d also charge a novelist to pick up a copy of The New York Times ten steps away from them at the coffeeshop and introduce themselves to the real characters that populate the newsprint. You’ll be a better writer for broadening your scope, and you’ll develop more respect for people who are, at their core, your kind.

ABOUT KATE:

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Kate Gregory has a B.A. in English from Ole Miss and an M.A. from Mississippi State. She is a lecturer of English composition at MSU, an associate at the Congressional and Political Research Center at Mitchell Memorial Library at MSU, and regular contributor for The ‘Sip Magazine. She lives in Starkville, MS, with her husband and her cat. Kate has a food and travel blog, theoldcrossroads.com.  Find her on Twitter and Instagram @katesgregory.

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Festival Hill in Round Top, Texas.

Festival Hill in Round Top, Texas.

There’s no poetry in driving from Louisiana to Texas, though I did think I felt something deeply poetic in the dark eyes of a black mare who I saw riding in a trailer. The horse’s hair blew in the wind, and she gave the appearance of running backwards, even as she stood still in her domain. No poetry on the highway, not even when I passed by EXIT KINDER and found the name to be a rare mix of meaning and mass transport. No poetry could be derived from the fall of night or the rain that began to pour outside of Houston or the flash flooding or how no other soul was on the road, the city dark, so much rain and road water on my windshield I prepared to be shallowed whole by the city and its wet mouth. No poetry in the roadside motel I stopped at in Brenham, Texas, where the Bluebonnets blossom wild in the spring. But, the next day when I drove into Round Top, Texas, I found a rain-hazed morning, a cathedral stuccoed with seashells, poems etched in stone.  ~Christie

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Craft of Literary features flash essays on craft, CW pedagogy, and publishing by emerging and established writers. For more information, click here.

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