On Sounds Good, Murray State University MFA Program Director Carrie Jerrell speaks with author Justin Quarry who will read from his work on Sunday, July 9 at the Clara Eagle Art Gallery. He will also lead a fiction workshop at Murray State July 8 and 9.
Quarry is a Senior Lecturer in English and Program Coordinator of Undergraduate Creative Writing at Vanderbilt University. His fiction has appeared in a number of publications, including TriQuarterly, The Southern Review, and The Normal School, which awarded him its Normal Prize in Fiction. He has received a number of honors, including the Robert Olen Butler Short Fiction Prize, an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Arkansas Arts Council, and a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation.
Quarry says of all the workshops he has attended, the most impactful have taken time to focus on what writers are doing well. “Often the assumption in workshop is a writer already knows what he or she is doing well, but especially after a writer has spent weeks or months or longer with one particular project, that’s not necessarily the case,” Quarry said. “So I think it’s really good for him or her to hear that, what’s working well and why so he or she can apply that positive attribute more broadly in the next draft… Identifying what could work better is easier because it sticks out.”
One goal of Quarry’s workshop is to help participants "make something happen on the page." He says literary writers can often forget about plot and other basic elements that are essential in helping readers of prose to feel something. Quarry says his priority goal is to help participants feel excited to revise the work they generate once the workshop is over. “I think that revision is actually where the real art of writing is. It’s important in that first draft just to get something on the page but the real craft of writing comes in the paring away at that and maybe adding here or there,” Quarry said.
The structure of Quarry’s generative workshop will center around turning desire and fear into compelling characters. The workshops take place from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at Murray State University July 8 and 9. Find more information here.