Public Relations  >  News Center  >  News Releases  >  June 2020  >  June 23, 2020  >  Creighton Creative Writing Cohort helps faculty, staff tell their stories
Creighton Creative Writing Cohort helps faculty, staff tell their stories

Charles YoungbloodThe key for all new writers, says Charles Youngblood, MD, MFA, is to realize one simple fact: You can write.

You don’t need a special talent gifted to you from the heavens. All you need is an idea and the self-discipline to sit in the chair and do the work.

“The biggest hurdle people have to get through is, a lot of people don’t think they’re good enough,” says Youngblood, associate professor in the Creighton University School of Medicine. “The hardest thing is to get them to just do the writing. People have to get over the idea that they’re not good enough.”

With this in mind, Youngblood, who holds a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and English from Loyola University Chicago and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, has started a creative writing group for Creighton faculty and staff. The goal, Youngblood says, is to help people working at the University in all disciplines discover and develop their inner creative spirit.

“It’s sort of the Creighton commitment to the liberal arts that any creative endeavor, whether it be writing or painting or whatever it may be, will make you better at whatever else you’re doing,” says Youngblood, chairman of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine at CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center — Bergan Mercy. “It engages parts of our brain that we’re not normally using.”

The endeavor is just one of the ways that Creighton is working to infuse the humanities into its professional culture and educational programs. Youngblood, who has hosted other writing workshops in the past, is a member of the newly formed Department of Medical Humanities, which aims to incorporate the liberal arts into the School of Medicine curriculum. Creighton’s Kingfisher Institute also aims to create opportunities for faculty, staff and students to apply the liberal arts in their professional practice and study.

The Creighton Creative Writing Cohort currently has eight members working in areas around the University, including business, admissions, medicine, law and elsewhere. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the group has been meeting weekly via Zoom on Monday afternoons. A second group, consisting of employees at the Creighton University Health Sciences — Phoenix Campus, numbers about seven.

Participants are free to work on a project of their choosing, whether the piece be fiction, creative nonfiction or poetry. Each writer is asked to bring at least five pages of material for the group to read. Workshops last for two hours, with the group discussing the work of two writers per week for an hour each.

“I was attracted to it because I wanted the peer support to make myself write,” says Katherine Vacha, administrative assistant in the School of Dentistry. “I mean, I love writing on my own, but to have a group of people who not only give you feedback but also support you every week is great.”

The group recently discussed a short piece of science fiction Vacha wrote about a future society in which wealthy people can afford implants that augment their bodies and give them special abilities.

“The most helpful thing was reading other people’s writing,” Vacha says. “Seeing people who are in the same stage of the writing process I am and reading their writing has been super helpful because I can see what it takes to get closer to a final product. Giving them feedback also helps me organizing my own writing and approach it in a different way.”

Youngblood says he hopes the group will eventually produce enough publishable material to put together a Creighton literary journal.

“If anybody still wants to join in, the more the merrier,” Youngblood says. “It’s totally nonthreatening and low key. Everybody’s pretty mellow.”

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