The College of Graduate Studies at Arabian Gulf University conducted a webinar on “Creative Writing Matters" organized and presented by the English Language Instructor, Mrs. Luma Fayez Al Salah. The webinar was attended by professors and students from different universities in USA, Bahrain and the GCC region.
The webinar was held with the collaboration of the guest speakers including the Director of the Writing Program at Wichita State University and Associate Professor of English, Dr. Darren Defrain, who is the author of numerous stories, poems, and essays as well as the award-winning novel, The Salt Palace, and the story collection, Inside & Out. He has also branched out in developing the Vizling App (currently in prototype) which uses haptics and visual linguistics to help blind and visually impaired readers better understand multimodal texts.
Also, guest speaker Dr. Casey Pycior, is the author of the short story collection, The Spoils (Switchgrass Books/NIU Press, 2017), and he was awarded the 2015 Charles Johnson Fiction Award at Crab Orchard Review. His work has appeared in South Dakota Review, The Laurel Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, Midwestern Gothic, Harpur Palate, BULL, Wigleaf, and Crab Orchard Review among many other places. He is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Southern Indiana and serves as Fiction Editor of Southern Indiana Review.
The webinar began with Mrs. Luma's presentation on defining creative writing and the importance of creative writing while highlighting the role of creativity and language. Mrs. Luma also stressed on the link between creativity and innovative thinking in writing and narration. Urging on creative writing, Mrs. Alsalah encouraged attendees to think creatively and innovatively to capture and reflect that in their writing. She also explained how creative writing allows readers to share and live experiences that may have never been experienced before through a form of simulation through written words. Thus, language paves the way for simulation, visualization, and conceptualization. According to Alsalah, language can create a virtual reality, thus creativity and effective writing skills go hand-in-hand and should be greatly accentuated. She also expressed that words crystallize images. Mrs. Alsalah also stressed the link between creative writing and academic writing, and the importance of them both.
On their parts, Dr. Defrain ad Dr. Pycior, both confirmed the significance of creative writing and fostering creative writing programs. The guest speakers stressed that creativity and creative writing should be daily practices for students. The guest speakers also encouraged attendees to be patient and keep practicing despite any obstacles they may face and that creative writing can be an interesting path towards language learning. They also acknowledged that language form and meaning have a way of “revitalizing language relationships" and thus improving writing skills. Moreover, according to the guest speakers, by writing in a creative way, students have to adjust their skills to make the language of their own and open themselves to others. The professors also assured that creative writing is a laboratory for exploring oneself.
Dr. Darren Defrain also related how creative writing improves empathy anywhere, anytime and not only particularly in the Coronavirus pandemic. He also related how creativity boosts imagination, clarifies thoughts , philosophies and contributes to a better understanding of language. Dr. Pycior, on the other hand acknowledged how writers can be creative about anything and everything regardless of culture and social norms. He affirmed that students need not travel the world to think differently or creatively; they can be creative within their communities and societies.
Mrs. Luma Alsalah concluded the session by addressing the question: Does Creative Writing Really Matter? In this respect, Dr. Darren Defrain, answered confirming the role of creative writing in society and that it isn't pertinent to anyone single community or society. Likewise, Dr. Pycior, added highlighting the significant matters of creative writing. Both Professors concluded by encouraging the attendees to be selective readers and selective writers.