November 4, 2009

iScribe Interview Series - A Writer So SUBLIME, Her Words Will WRECK You

Sarah in Ireland, Summer 2009

Name: Sarah Payne
Major(s): English/Writing & Rhetoric
Year of Graduation: 2010
Position: Featured writer (Fall 2009)

You're one of the few critical essay writers featured in the 2009 The Independent Scribe. Do you write any other genres?
I haven't really had the chance to write in other genres. I've somehow managed to avoid taking any sort of creative writing or poetry class at URI. I think part of me is afraid to try something new. I've got the critical analysis thing pretty covered at this point. I'm taking a Travel Writing class next semester, so hopefully that will help me to extend my writing into other genres.

What kind of 'work' do you like to do in your critical texts? We loved the work you did with language-level analysis in your published piece. Is this a common thread in your works? If so, why do you make this choice?
My interest in language-level analysis definitely started in my English classes in high school. AP English stressed the use of literary terms in theses. When I got to college, I had a few really great English professors that pushed my analysis. Professor Marty Rojas is one of those. She gives OED assignments--where you trace a word in a text and research the etymology of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary. That sort of assignment forces you to think about how themes are crafted down to words and punctuation.

Tell us a bit about your writing process. Is it long and planned, or short and spontaneous? Do you work at regular hours, or love the 4AM scribble race to the finish? We love details regarding how writers compose!
Especially with critical analysis, I usually start a little less than a week before the paper is due. If I'm not sure which book to work with, I go through everything I've underlined or starred and write down patterns or themes that interest me in each book. I have to start early because this takes a while. Once I pick the book, my process is pretty spaced out. I come up with a thesis a few days before the paper is due and work on it a little bit every day--which gives me time to flesh out new ideas as they come along. I can't work late at night. I've never pulled an all-nighter for school nor plan to--gotta have the beauty sleep!

Were you to rewrite Thoreau's Cape Cod, what changes or alterations would you make in your rewrite? Why?
Hmmm... I'm not sure if I would even attempt to change Thoreau's words! My favorite parts of the book were where he discusses the physical and emotional damage the shipwrecks caused. I also enjoyed when he is obviously making fun of the townspeople. Thoreau can be pretty funny with his perceptions of people.

As an English/Writing double-major and work in the Writing Center, we can presume you're pretty involved in the URI writing community. What is you favorite part about this community? What makes URI writers unique to you?
Being a "writer" (not sure I can call myself that yet) at URI is really cool. I feel pretty good about being a part of a community of writers. A writing community is a lot different than communities of other majors. We get to create and reflect together; other majors just study together. There's a lot more interaction and exchanging of ideas and motivating in the writing community. I love being surrounded by writers because it always pushes me to challenge myself.

Speaking of community, do you plan on attending the November Launch Event? If so, how do you feel about reading an excerpt from your essay? How do you feel about readings in general (attending, performing, etc.)?
I do plan on attending the November Launch Event! I've never read any of my work, so maybe this will be a first for me. I love going to readings and listening. I usually attend most of the readings sponsored by the English Department.

We understand you've read tons upon tons of novels in your English major. If you could be any character from any of the texts you read in your major, who would it be and why? What would you do for this day?
Well, I've got Thoreau on the brain; maybe I would be Thoreau. I would just travel all over New England and write my thoughts in my journal. I would stop by my cabin on Walden Pond. I'd have my weekly dinner at Emerson's house. We'd talk Transcendentalism. As Thoreau, I'd like to hear Emerson talk about his essay "Self Reliance." I guess I would surround myself with all those Transcendentalist thinkers for the day.

Are you currently working on any new writing projects? Rumor has it your considering a pretty neat Honors project!
Why yes, I am! I am currently writing a proposal to complete my honors project next semester. My idea is to write and illustrate a children's book--one for the 4 - 7 (ish) year-old audience. I love children (at least the ones I know). It will be my first time illustrating and writing creatively, so I am very excited. If I finish the project early enough, I'd also like to host readings at local libraries.

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