Interview with Instructor Elizabeth Knight: Write! Seriously, its Good for You!

By Carla Macedo Diaz|October 17, 2016Rock Creek, Top Stories|

I was a pretty fat kid. Like seriously, I was a walking bowling ball from ages 8-12, and was often the subject of schoolyard torture. I once had a girl named Emily follow me and make sound effects as I marched my chubby legs the two blocks to get home “ BOOM BOOM BOOM” and after multiple attempts at trying to get her to stop,  I actually ended up slamming a textbook in her face out of utter frustration (The only time math actually did me a service).

That being said, I spent A LOT of time staying home “sick” from school, and in order to keep myself entertained, I read mountains of books, and wrote.

I did a lot of literary writing, which is a broad term that encompasses any original creative writing.  I would sit at our ancient computer with its round backside of wires, and I would write stories about dragons, trees, flowers, and queens from Mars. My chubby little fingers would fly over the keys, and I would be in a completely different place. Through my writing I was able to escape temporarily from everyday life, work through my problems, and was able to develop a skill that would eventually help me decide what the heck I wanted to do with my life.

Because of my anxiety and awkwardness, I also had a really hard time finding adults in my life that believed in me enough to help me develop my writing, and when I first began at PCC I was shocked by the amount of support I received. I can honestly say I have loved every writing instructor I have had so far. One in particular, who has helped me more than she could ever know, Is Elizabeth Knight.

Knight is a full time tenured instructor of English here at PCC. She graduated from University of New Hampshire with a BA in English and Art History, then went on to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and spent two years refining her painting, sculpting, and drawing skills. She then brought it all home by getting her Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from University of Massachusetts/Amherst.

Since then she has inspired many of her students and shared an enormous amount of wisdom that I felt should be shared with all of PCC students wanting to pursue writing as a profession, or students just wanting to find a fun outlet to distress from school.

Due to the change in weather, Knight was forced to stay home, and I had to conduct my interview over email. A moment of silence please for chunk of tree that she lost during the storm.

How did you catch the writer’s bug?

I always liked to write and in elementary school my teachers were encouraging.  My father, who was a federal judge, wanted to be a writer, and I think I took on that dream, as children often do. I read A LOT.  I also wanted to be a rancher, a marine biologist and a dog trainer.  At a certain point I realized I could be all those things in writing!

How have you seen literary writing affect your students throughout the years?

Yes…I have seen good writing open minds all across the district.  More than anything, I think it opens people’s minds to the possibilities of lives they might not have imagined…and maybe more importantly, opened minds to see what it is like to be someone other than themselves.  That is by way of reading.

As far as writing as a practice, I have seen it help people figure out how they think and fall in love with language. Beautiful writing can occur in any of my classes. I have read essays in WR 115 that have blown me away. Either way it can make someone more open minded.

What are the key components to being a successful writer in your own opinion?

Dedication to the craft and a realization that living a life as a writer, whether or not you achieve fame and fortune (or even a living wage) is about using language as a means of mining for the truth about where you and the world meet.  It is about a love for the language and ultimately understanding that without the practice of writing, life is less illuminated for you.  In other words, you find you HAVE to write to live your best life. And you honor that by writing regularly.

What pieces of advice can you offer to students starting out in their writing pursuits?

Learn how to write correctly; learn how to use and manipulate syntax, punctuation. Learn what it means to develop an idea.  READING good writers can teach you this. Read a lot.

Develop a sense of what your subject is and follow it.

Trust your imagination. Learn the difference between “fantasy” and imagination.

Write every day, even if only for 5 minutes a day.

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You don’t have to be an anxiety ridden meatball to start writing, you should write because you can and you want to. It’s as simple as that.

If you’re interested in submitting writing to The Bridge, it would be more than welcome. Not only are we here to report news to our fellow students, but we are also here to support the art you create. So please, if you have art or writing you would like to share, submit to our email at thebridge@pcc.edu.

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