'The Quill Guild' crafts a creative writing community

By: Agnes Shin,  A&S Communications
November 17, 2016

As the clock struck 5 on a Wednesday afternoon, a crowd of writers scurried into a bustling room in Goldwin Smith Hall, eager to meet with fellow writers and engage in an hour-long session of “critique speed dating.”

The writers belong to the Quill Guild, a creative writing club at Cornell that aims to create a community for collaborative learning and writing. The club, which meets every Wednesday, was established in fall 2015 by Aisha Rupasingha ’18, an English major and film minor in the College of Arts and Sciences.

“I was really frustrated that there weren’t any clubs devoted to creative writing without the need for publication,” Rupasingha said.

Members are free to bring any type of writing to meetings: some share short stories or spoken word poetry, while others bring narrative nonfiction, screenplays or pieces from novels.

In addition to meetings dedicated to sharing and critiquing, the club also hosts “write-ins,” in which members write, share and troubleshoot as a group, and workshop days, where members view presentations on how to improve their writing.

“You’re constantly pursuing the practice of writing … and it connects you to talented people who can look at your work and give you pointers on how to improve. It’s a refresher that you’re a writer and that you need to write,” Rupasingha said.

The club has also hosted guest speakers such as Megan Shull '91, M.S. ’94, Ph.D. ’98, author of the young adult novel “The Swap” and middle-grade series “Skye O'Shea;” Robert Morgan, the novelist and Kappa Alpha Professor of English at Cornell; literary agent Scott Waxman ‘90, founder and CEO of digital publisher Diversion Books and co-founder of the Waxman Leavell Literary Agency; and Brian Hall, writer of novels “The Saskiad,” “I Should Be Extremely Happy in Your Company” and “Fall of Frost.”

At its most recent guest speaker event, Ithaca writer Angelina Mirabella discussed identity, point of view and their relationship to each other in her debut novel, “The Sweetheart.”

According to Anna Ravenelle ’17, vice president of fiction, an English major and creative writing minor, what makes the Quill Guild special is the sense of community that is present. “Writing is generally a solitary activity… but at the club, you meet friends and critique partners. [Writing] is a very intimate way to introduce yourself to someone. We get to know people who come back week after week.”

The club attracts students from all majors and disciplines, with backgrounds ranging from computer science to hospitality.

“It’s a new experience, and I really like the feeling of camaraderie here,” said Sara Gorske ’20, a materials science and engineering major. “I think it’s a great way to encourage people to keep writing and sharing and improving through the feedback we get.”

This story also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

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