By Fiona Rutgers
On Thursday, October 1, author Gail Godwin visited Goucher’s campus. Godwin held a meet-and-greet during the day and hosted a reading later that evening. She is an accomplished writer with 13 novels and two short story collections, as well as several nonfiction works, including a memoir and a writing advice book. Godwin has received multiple awards; three of her works were finalists for the National Book Award, and five have made it the New York Times bestseller list. Godwin almost attended Goucher in the past and commented on this at both events.
At the meet and greet, Godwin talked about her personal experience and gave advice for writers in the audience on how to solve some of their problems. She read written questions out loud and answered many common concerns, including choosing point of view in a novel, as well as how to best beat writers block. She explained her own writing process and even showed a brainstorming method of her own, sharing drawings and sketches she made to help her visualize characters and scenes. Godwin explained she used print images to help her identify proportions and then made a rough sketch of what she envisioned in her mind. Several of these pictures were passed around the room, each paired with a quote from the novel they came from.
She opened the reading later that night with an excerpt from her memoir, “Publishing: A Writer’s Memoir,” which reflected on her writing career. While reading the section specifically about her book tour experience, Godwin told stories of terrible managers and criticism she received in the past, which got a few laughs from the audience.
In addition to her memoir, Godwin also read from her newest work, a currently untitled novel she had only sent to her publisher a few weeks prior. Godwin explained that the book was meant to be a continuation of a subject she broached in another one of her novels, “Flora.” She explained that her original intention with “Flora” was to write a ghost story. However, as she progressed with the novel, her concept changed. Her new novel introduces a young boy who goes to live with his great aunt in South Carolina after his mother dies.
Many people attended the reading, including students, teachers and outside guests.
“It was great to experience [to see] in person what we were learning about in class,” Lily Koufer ‘17 said after the reading.
Daniel Kent ‘18 agreed. “I like her brand of magical realism,” he said.
“Her story sounds like a kid, not a child,” Adam Geller ‘18 said. “A kid who is perceptive and pays attention to what happens around him.” Geller added that Godwin “was funny—I didn’t expect her to be funny.”
The response from those outside of the school was also positive. “I’ve been reading Godwin since the ‘80s,” Patty Hutton said, who is a local middle school teacher who visited campus for the reading. “I was thrilled she was here, and I was so happy to hear some of her new book.”
When asked about her visit to Goucher, Godwin said, “I was always so eager to see this campus, because I almost came here. It has a good feeling to it. You can see it on the students’ faces.”