“As a writer, you must have the courage to continue”- Guilford students and faculty enjoy hilarious and touching book reading

 Fiction writer Holly Goddard Jones read from her new short story collection, entitled “Antipodes,” and answered questions from students at a fiction reading event hosted by the English and Creative Writing Department on Nov. 9.

Meghan Curley

Fiction writer Holly Goddard Jones read from her new short story collection, entitled “Antipodes,” and answered questions from students at a fiction reading event hosted by the English and Creative Writing Department on Nov. 9.

On Wednesday, Nov. 9, English majors and faculty members of the English and Creative Writing Department gathered in Carnegie Hall for a book reading event featuring fiction writer Holly Goddard Jones, who read an excerpt from her latest work, “Antipodes.” The book is a collection of short stories that deal with real-life issues, and features characters such as a frantic young mother and an adult gamer moving back in with his parents.

Attendees were warmly greeted by senior and English major Gregory Beafore, who stood by the entrance of Carnegie Hall with a decorative basket filled with small pieces of paper for people to write their names on to enter a raffle for a free copy of the book.

Assistant Professor of English Cynthia Nearman spearheaded the event, welcoming attendees with a joyous smile as everyone settled into their seats.

To kick off the reading, Nearman announced the raffle winners for the night. The lucky students nervously smiled as they squeezed between the narrow aisles of chairs to collect their prizes, and the sound of clapping echoed throughout the room.

After she announced the last raffle winner, Nearman jumped into the reading. She glowed with excitement as she introduced Jones, who humbly took to the podium before diving into her text.

After the reading, Goddard sat down for a brief Q&A session, which sparked some hilarious and touching moments that seemed to validate the experiences of aspiring writers in the audience.

One student wondered about Goddard’s process when writing short stories and novels, asking which form of fiction writing caused the least amount of stress for her.

“When you’re writing, there’s always going to be this little voice in your head that pokes at you and says, ‘This will never get done,’” Goddard said. “I feel like I have those moments when writing novels, so to answer your question, I think short stories are easier for me.”

Goddard spoke honestly about not wanting to write sometimes, which sparked hearty laughter and loud applause from one student in particular, and garnered more laughter and emphatic nods from professors.

After the Q&A session, Goddard offered some final words of encouragement to aspiring writers, highlighting the frustration and fear that many face when it comes to writing in general.

“As a writer, you must have the courage to continue,” Goddard said. “Writing is like a marathon; you have to maintain that fire if you are passionate about sharing your voice.”

During the reception, students and faculty members snacked on sweet tea and sugar cookies, sharing their thoughts on the event. Several students noted that Goddard’s advice resonated with them. Senior and English major Iris Newlin said that Goddard’s presence made them feel safe, and that they could relate to her struggles as a writer: “Holly just made me feel like I wasn’t alone when it comes to writing. To know someone at her professional level still encounters challenges as a writer gives me relief.”

Junior and creative writing major Brandy Gray made similar comments about the comfort she found in Goddard’s relatability.

“I have a lot of issues with self-confidence myself and hearing that from someone well established was reassuring,” Gray said.

Nearman reflected on her choice to select Goddard as a guest speaker, emphasizing how delighted she was to see the positive response from the student attendees.

“Holly is a writer whose work I admire,” Nearmain said. “I knew that students would be interested in her work, especially her new collection of short stories. She’s also an engaging teacher, and I knew she’d offer great insights for the creative writing students who met and talked with her.”

Others shared how the event alone increased their excitement and passion about becoming writers themselves. The event served as an opportunity for students to get a glimpse of what their futures might look like.

“This event meant everything for me because as a writer I had never attended an event like this,” said Beafore. “The reading made me more excited at the potential readings and signings I could be doing for my own stories.”

“I hope students were moved and excited by Holly’s work, and that they found the reading memorable and engaging,” said Nearman. “I hope young writers in the audience can imagine themselves working long and hard on their own creative works and someday sharing their stories with audiences.”