Listen to a conversation between a student and her Creative Writing professor.
Hello, Professor Thompson, can I talk to you for a minute?
Oh, hi, Laura, we missed you last class.
Yeah, I was sick for a few days, um, I was wondering did I miss a lot of work?
Let's see, well, we discussed the story that you've been assigned to read for class, A Memory by Eudora Welty.
And then we listened to a recording of an interview with Welty.
The recording's on reserve at the library, you'll need to listen to it.
Uh, so, did you have a chance to read the story?
Yeah, I did.
What did you think?
Well, I was a little surprised, I mean, the first time I read it, anyway.
What surprised you?
You know, it just seemed like there was nothing going on in the story, I mean, a girl that just sitting at the beach thinking about one of her memories and, at the same time, she's watching other bathers on the beach and sort of just thinking about what they're doing, too.
And that's all that happens, so at the end of the story, I thought, "That's it?"
I know what you mean.
There's, uh, no surprise ending like in O.Henry's story "The Gift of the Magi," or some big adventure like in William Faulkner's "The Bear".
So you didn't like the story?
Well, actually, while I was reading it the second time, I sort of realized that you don't need surprises or excitement to have a great story.
The girl's memory and stuff she was thinking about while she was watching the other people on the beach were really interesting to read about.
And, you know, it made me think that when I write my story, the one we have to write for this class, I can maybe use my own memories to get me started.
Well, in fact, I'd hope you'd see that.
Of course, there are many levels to this story, but what I really want the class to take away from it was that you don't need to write about the great, the exciting world when you write your stories, uh, even writing about a memory can work.
Like I could write about one of times I took a walk in the woods when I was a kid.
Exactly! You know, as the due date of your story approaches, I'm hearing from a lot of students of their worry because they don't have anything exciting enough to write about.
But Welty said in the interview we listened to and in her autobiography that her worst stories were the ones where she tried to write about people and places that were unfamiliar to her.
That's why a lot of her stories are set in Mississippi where she's from.
Welty stresses that, for her anyway, familiarity with her subject matter was the key to a successful story.
Familiarity, that makes sense, thanks, Professor Thompson.
No problem, uh, don't forget to listen to that recording.