Wednesday, April 2, 2014

URSP Student Hannah Shelton Writes her Second Novel: Turbulence

I began work on my second novel, my current project, titled Turbulence, before
I arrived at Mason. Ultimately, I had planned to use Turbulence as my senior project while studying literature and pursuing my teaching licensure. However, during my first semester, Mason debuted the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing. This afforded me an unprecedented opportunity: to work on Turbulence while I completed my bachelor’s degree, and not as a side project. Not only did this allow me to construct Turbulence as part of my degree program, I would have a host of professional eyes critiquing my work, helping me along in the process of finishing my novel.

I switched majors to the BFA as soon as it was officially offered. However, the problem with writing a novel is that it requires intensive research to validate facts. I was worried about having the time and funds to do Turbulence justice, as I was now focused on the mechanics of writing and not just the art form of the novel. Then, opportunity knocked once more: I learned about the OSCAR program’s existence (an unknown for many of us humanities majors) and applied immediately.

Thanks to OSCAR, I will finally have the chance travel to the Lake District in the UK, where much of Turbulence is set. The rest of my time is spent almost exclusively in front of a computer. I write for eight hours a week, and usually spend another four researching. What I have begun researching this week is the photography element; for that, I have had to push back some of my writing time in favor of research. What I’ve learned is that with writing, you have to be flexible. I can’t feel guilty because I didn’t write for my allotted eight hours, because I have to make adjustments for authenticating my novel.

OSCAR has not only provided extraneous funding, it’s allowed me access to a mentor to guide and coach me along as I prepare Turbulence for publication. With OSCAR’s assistance, I will not only hit my goal of using my novel as my senior thesis, I will have a much more polished and professional project when seeking a publisher.