Established author dives into creative writing with students

Bruce Machart, author of “The Wake of Forgiveness,” taught students about fiction writing as he led a creative writing workshop Thursday afternoon in the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library.

“I started off doing this workshop in graduate school and I was writing this novella with this visiting writer who was there,” Machart said. “She said to give her 10 pages a week and I’d never done 10 pages a week in my life. But sure enough I started cranking out pages … I didn’t know why I was writing what I was writing; it was just kind of happening.”

Machart told about 15 students and faculty what potential authors should think about when formulating a novel and gave them advice on the creative writing process.

Bruce Machart led a creative writing workshop Thursday afternoon. (Cynthia Johnson/TommieMedia)

“What happens in the story is not nearly as important as ‘the who’ than ‘the what’ happens to,” Machart said. “There’s always a real-life glimmer in fiction since you can’t write with no experience.”

St. Thomas’ Literary Club, with support from the English staff and faculty, started writing workshops to give students the opportunity to hear from an experienced author.

The Literary Club is an expansion of Sigma Tau Delta, the St. Thomas English Honors Society. The club includes English majors and minors, as well as students from other departments. Danielle Legatt, publicity coordinator for Sigma Tau Delta and the Literary Club, said students in the club wanted to put on programs that highlighted an appreciation for English.

“While Sigma Tau Delta put on events for the community, such as ice cream socials or the Christmas reading, there weren’t any events designed specifically for our own group of peers,” Legatt said. “As the English honors group, we thought that it was important to provide opportunities for other students to grow in their appreciation of English, as well as connect with those in their field outside of a classroom setting.”

Jacob Paul, the featured author of “Sarah/Sara,” led the first workshop a few weeks ago. Machart was the second author to visit St. Thomas, and Legatt said students were fortunate to have the chance to learn from him.

“This was a unique experience for us students, as Mr. Machart is currently on an extensive book tour,” Legatt said. “He has been reviewed by the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and named one of the Discover Great New Writers by Barnes and Noble. Students may not get the chance to visit with an author with such widespread attention at the same time of their visit again.”

The ultimate goal for the creative writing workshops is to provide a place for students and authors to connect in an atmosphere without any pressure, Legatt said.

“It is pretty informal and hopefully helpful to the students,” Legatt said. “It is our hope that other students have a good experience and that it inspires them and only reinforces their love of the craft.”

The Literary Club’s next event is the annual Christmas reading. It will take place Friday, December 3 in the O’Shaughnessy Frey Library Leather Room.

Cynthia Johnson can be reached at