Major: Biology, Creative Writing Minor
Graduation Year: 2016
Hometown: Roseburg, OR
What do you look for in a Silk Road piece (or any writing)?
When I read a short story, the first thing I look for is conflict and how the conflict serves to deepen the reader’s understanding of society and human experience. If the story fails to establish a problem within the first page, whether it be something as subtle as a disagreement between two characters or as clear as a single gunshot in a crowded room, then it can no longer be classified as a story for nothing is brought into light. I think a lot of the stories I read establish this too late and, in doing so, sacrifice both the reader’s interest and a tight narrative structure. The second thing I look for is character development, which can only happen once the conflict is established – the fuel for the fire of change. Without development, characters often fall flat, and the reader is robbed of forming any sort of emotional connection to that story. Oddly enough, the last thing I read for is the actual writing, which can present itself in infinite styles or quirks depending on the structure and topic of the narrative. As it usually is with art, the method of conveying meaning can vary widely and still make a strong impact. However, the deeper meaning of a story will always be more important to me than the vessel it’s carried in.
If you could have ANY job once you graduate, what would you love to do?
If I could have any job once I graduate, I would love to work as a national park ranger or an archaeologist or a marine biologist – anything that would keep me outdoors and surrounded by places of magic. The outside world is the breeding ground for creativity and story, in my opinion.
Do you have any authors (or pieces of literature) that inspire you?
The last novel I read that honestly inspired me was On Writing by Stephen King. I went through a phase in my life where I read five or six instructional books on writing, and this is the only one I’ve found that offers an honest look into the craft and structure of the art. Indeed, King reveals in his forward that “this is a short book because most books about writing are filled with bullshit”, and I have to say I agree with him. On Writing was instrumental in my development as a writer. It taught me most of the key grammar rules and how to set up a scene, write dialog, etc. Before this one, I was inspired by Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, and before that, it was Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. Both of these books instilled such a strong sense of wonder and jealousy in me that I wanted to write something equally imaginative. These books tell very human stories in unreal settings – stories of passion, betrayal, loyalty, courage, and deceit – and this ability to use a human story to ground something which would otherwise be considered too fantastical or too niche is something I love about these works.
What does Silk Road embody to you? What words would you use to describe Silk Road to someone who knows nothing about it?
To me, the Silk Road embodies the intersection of place and writing. It’s a magazine committed to giving a voice to those we, as readers, have not heard from, to people from different countries and cultures and people with unique and new perspectives on human experience. This magazine is for anyone who harbors a desire to expand and grow through listening to others. Every story in the Silk Road has something to say – an original message on the way of the world or the way of the heart. It’s dramatic, and it’s real. It’s unflinching and compelling. It’s diverse, different, and creative. The Silk Road explores the deepest corners of the human self throughout the deepest corners of the living world.