Arts & Culture
1:55 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Writing as a Way of Thinking & Discovering

Writing helps people think and discover themselves and the world around them.
Credit Damian Gadal, flickr
Lake Effect's Mitch Teich speaks with author Scott Russell Sanders.

Writer Scott Russell Sanders is loved by many for novels and essays, many of which carry a nature theme.  But while the environment does play a significant, vital role in his books such as A Conservationist Manifesto and his latest, Divine Animal, it’s not the only issue that he writes about.

Sanders’ work spans 20 books of fiction and "creative nonfiction," though it isn’t a term he especially likes. He’s told his own coming-of-age story, he’s examined how geography influences culture, and is currently at work on a project exploring the meaning of wealth.

Along the way, he’s collected numerous awards for his writing, and also appointments such as the 2014 Lois and Willard Mackey Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at Beloit College, which came to an end in early March. He taught from 1971 to 2009 at Indiana University, where he is now a distinguished professor emeritus of English. It’s the second time he’s held that post.

Through his teaching, he hopes students learn that writing is a way of thinking and a way of discovering.

“We don’t learn anything if we know everything before we start,” Sanders says. “We only learn by being open to new discoveries.”

As a young writer and a young father, he wrote about the experiences he had with his children. He opted not to fictionalize the stories because he wanted them to be as realistic as possible. When his works were published, the magazines classified them as “personal essays.”

Sanders’ latest novel is Divine Animal and is currently available for free as an ebook.