CCCC creative writing students learn from experts
PITTSBORO - The bulletin board in the Creative Writing Department at Central Carolina Community College's Pittsboro campus contains a telling truth from Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov: "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass."
CCCC Continuing Education Creative Writing students are learning how to incorporate that level of truth and intensity into their own works. Among their instructors are some of the South's leading contemporary writers: John Claude Bemis, Marjorie Hudson, Will Bennett, and Judith Stanton.
John Claude Bemis, the recipient of the 2013 Piedmont Laureate for Children's Literature has written four novels for young readers, including "Nine Pound Hammer," which was selected as a New York Public Library Best Children's Book. He has also won the North Carolina Juvenile Literature Award. Bemis conducts workshops as part of the Creative Writing curriculum on children's literature.
Marjorie Hudson, whose debut story collection, "Accidental Birds of the Carolinas," garnered a 2012 Pen/Hemingway Honorable Mention, and whose creative nonfiction book, "Searching for Virginia Dare," was a North Carolina Notable Book, conducts a workshop on writing memoirs.
Will Bennett, who wrote the critically acclaimed Off-Broadway play "Corporate Rock," will teach a course on playwriting and screenwriting. Judith Stanton, the author of seven novels and a RITA finalist and poet, will teach strategies for writing a novel.
"The Continuing Education Creative Writing program at CCCC's Pittsboro campus appeals to all ages," said Maggie Zwilling, Community Services coordinator for Continuing Education. "Students come from all walks of life. Many have graduate degrees and are not so much interested in the academic certificate the program offers as they are in improving their writing skills. The instructors really give a lot to the students in the way of editing, marketing and just plain moral support. I've observed classes in which students read their work, and I've been blown away at the level and intricacy of their output."
Judith Hogan, a prolific writer who is well known in Chatham County, wanted to expand the college's Continuing Education program to include Creative Writing. She taught the first creative writing course at the Pittsboro campus in 2008.
"I said to the director of Continuing Education then that I didn't see why we couldn't have a program here," Hogan said. "He told me to start up a committee and called in Maggie Zwilling."
Hogan taught a course in poetry in spring 2009, the first official offering under the newly formed Creative Writing program. She solicited other writers to teach courses with the criteria that they be published authors and the Creative Writing Program was born.
"We're the only Creative Writing Program in the state under the auspices of Continuing Education," said Zwilling. "Pittsboro is known for its writing community, and CCCC has been fortunate enough to take advantage of the renowned skill and talent we have located right here in Chatham County."
The CCCC Creative Writing staff is composed of 15 instructors and also includes Kim Overcash, who has published fiction in independent gothic magazines; mystery novelist Rick Bylina; poet Ralph Earle, founding member of the North Carolina Writers Network and award-winning poet and short-story writer; Ruth Moose, the recipient of the Malice Domestic Award for her novel to be published by St. Martin's Press; and Melissa Delbridge, author of the highly acclaimed memoir, "The Family Bible."
The program offers a Certificate in Creative Writing and continuing education credits for courses in fiction, poetry, non-fiction and creative inspiration. Class and workshop participants are encouraged to write creatively, read their work aloud, study other writers and engage in a dialogue about writing.
The program welcomes beginning as well as experienced writers and strives to provide motivation and creative insight through the course offerings. The staff of professional writers have published and taught extensively. They assist students in shaping ideas and improving their writing skills. They also provide instruction on the craft and business of writing.
The Creative Writing program is offered through Continuing Education because many of the students already have advanced degrees and just want to concentrate on their writings and specific areas of interest, said Zwilling. Students are told initially that they only receive Continuing Education credits and that the certificate is offered primarily for their portfolio. The class they have to attend to get the certificate (above and beyond the 120 course hours) is very intense and brings everything they have learned in their various classes to fruition, she added.
"If l you're interested in creative writing, Pittsboro isn't too far to travel," she said. "We have highly skilled instructors and a comfortable environment where students receive thoughtful and productive critiques that will help them progress in their craft."
For more information on the Continuing Education Creative Writing Program, contact Zwilling at 919-545-8048 or e-mail her at mzwil272cccc.edu. Information is also available online at www.cccc.edu/creativewriting.
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