Making Things Up: A Catholic Writer’s Beginnings

Submitted by Genevieve Bleidner '13 on November 11, 2011
The seats of the Dolan School of Business Dining Room were filled the evening of Wednesday, November 9, 2011. Audience members settled in to listen to Fairfield University’s Sixth Annual Catholicism and the Arts Lecture. The talk, entitled “Making Things Up: A Catholic Writer’s Beginnings,” was sponsored by the University’s Center for Catholic Studies and featured teacher, and successful novelist, Ron Hansen.

Hansen, who is the Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J. Professor in the Arts and Humanities at Santa Clara University, covered a range of topics in his lecture, including anecdotes from his childhood and his experiences in his own Catholic faith, as well as his ideas on writing and the art of making things up. He discussed his reverence for writing, and his reasoning’s behind his works of fiction.

“There’s a choicelessness in creative writing…a yearning to make things up.” says Hansen.

This yearning, Hansen explained, was why he began to write from a young age, and continued writing no matter the outcome. He linked his writing to his spirituality, stating, “ imaginative writing can serve as a religious experience.”  Creativity, he argued, and his process for writing is often a simple idea that slowly reveals itself to be a story or character as he works on it, transforming and enlightening him.

Hansen gave some advice to all writers who are questioning why they do what they do. Advice that is universal and that, he said, applies to spiritual life as well. He advised the audience to “make things up, [we] tell stories to remember, entertain, console, repent, inspire, and…flesh out our souls in the great drama of civilization.”

During his talk, Hansen frequently returned to the idea that a writer becomes so wrapped up in his imagined world that memories themselves become split, into the true, less beautiful memory itself and the imagined, ideal false-memory. Hansen uses this more imaginative side of his personality to write.

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