An abandoned mansion, an enchanted forest and a bridge suspended high above a dark, dangerous chasm were just some of the images alive in Decker Hall last Tuesday night. Although the students typed in peaceful silence, their minds were buzzing with plots both fantastic and heart-wrenching. After all, Compose: The Storyteller’s Guild was formed to give imaginative ideas like these a home with a community of like-minded writers.
The idea for a creative writing club has been on the minds of junior Abby Johnson, an English major, and junior Nikki Edrington, a Christian ministries major, for over a year. Last year, when Johnson was Edrington’s discipleship coordinator, the pair bonded rapidly over their mutual love for the written word.
“[Nikki and I] just got to talking one day, probably in relation to me being an English major—or the fact that I have a million books in my room—about how I’m a writer and I’ve written four novels. It was funny because Nikki said, ‘same!’” said Johnson. “We talked for hours about writing, what writing means to us and the writing process. Somewhere along the line we realized there should be a group on campus for writers.”
Dedicated to the dream of a campus writing community, Johnson and Edrington went to work making Compose a reality. However, they also found that forming a campus interest club is a more challenging process than either of them first anticipated.
“Pastor Todd [Faulkner] is our faculty advisor, and he’s done a lot of advertising for us, but just getting the club official was our first concern,” said Edrington. “A lot of that process involved us sitting down and doing a lot of paperwork and drafting a charter. Now we’re heading into generating interest and getting people involved.”
Once the charter had been formed and the idea for the club approved by SGA, Johnson and Edrington began brainstorming a club name. After much deliberation, they decided that Compose: The Storyteller’s Guild encompassed the club’s goal of appealing to all kinds of storytellers rather than just one niche of writers.
“We really wanted a word to unify under that meant something more than just writing. Composing to us is drafting, collecting—turning it into something more than just what it is,” said Johnson.
The name is also meant to appeal to all kinds of storytellers, whether they be poets, novelists or students simply curious about creative writing.
“You don’t have to have novels written to come join,” said Edrington. “Actually, you don’t have to have anything written at all yet to join us. Just that interest and desire to become a creative writer and to compose things is all you need to have to be able to come. We welcome everyone.”
The first meeting of Compose, which took place on Jan. 24, gave members a chance to get to know each other and to share what they enjoy most about writing. On Jan. 31, Co-Presidents Johnson and Edrington began the second meeting by presenting the club with photos of inspiring scenery, including an old, creaky bridge, an overhead view of a bustling city and a sun-dappled forest. Compose members were then given 15 minutes to interpret the images and incorporate them into their own stories. The inspiration exercise resulted in a number of different narratives, ranging from reflective poetry to comedic prose. Members were then given time to share their creations in small groups to give and receive feedback and encouragement.
“I’ve always wanted to be a part of an encouraging writing community, and now that’s possible,” said Mitchell Stacy, a junior psychology major. He attended the first two meetings of Compose. “I’ve never been good at writing prompts, but the challenge and positive feedback from the group last meeting was fun.”
Other possible future activities include a collaborative writing project, a book exchange and a nature walk to spark creative inspiration.
“We don’t want to just be a critique group,” said Johnson. “We want to be a place where you can come and write. This is a place dedicated to writing.”
After all, the most important goal of Compose is to motivate writers on campus to continue doing what they love most: writing. The club will offer anyone interested in expressing themselves with language a designated time and opportunity to do so, even during the busiest and most stressful times of the year.
“I think Nikki and I both fully believe that language is one of the most powerful things,” said Johnson. “Language is how we change and shape our world—how everyone changes and shapes the world.”
Storytellers of all kinds are welcome to join Compose: The Storyteller’s Guild for an evening of imagination and creative expression on Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. in Decker 340.