Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Author Back at Valdosta State, Where Her Fire Began to Burn Janice Daugharty Becomes School's First Writer-in-Residence

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Author Back at Valdosta State, Where Her Fire Began to Burn Janice Daugharty Becomes School's First Writer-in-Residence

Article excerpt

VALDOSTA -- Janice Daugharty has four books in print, a movie in

the works and a Pulitzer-submitted short story collection, heady

credentials for Valdosta State University's first

writer-in-residence.

But it isn't the books, the rave reviews or her growing

reputation as a Southern literary phenomenon that will transform

students in the school's 7-year-old creative writing program

into budding bards this fall.

A writer, she says, must have a voice. And a deep well of

passion.

"Here's the thing that bothers me about creative writing

programs: That writers come in wanting to be motivated to

write," Daugharty said. "Now that's disturbing because let me

tell you, you're not a writer if you've got to be motivated to

write. You are a writer if you can't help writing. It's a

compulsion."

Daugharty is a self-taught expert on that subject, pumping out

a hundred short stories and 24 books in the decade that followed

her enrollment at age 38 in an English literature course at

Valdosta State.

As the first writer-in-residence in the college's history,

she'll earn $10,000 over the next year by meeting with faculty

and students in the creative writing program and hosting fall

and spring writing workshops. Daugharty also will be reunited

with old professors who sparked her career.

Now 51, she spent years in the shadows of South Georgia's

swamps and pines unknown to anyone outside her friends and

family, crafting tales of Southern life from the keys of an old

Royal manual typewriter, the sort that might have been used by

such literary greats as Flannery O'Conner and William Faulkner.

Daugharty crafted her stories by night, her son and two

daughters falling to sleep hearing the sounds of metal slapping

against thin white paper. While the kids were at school, the

ritual continued with an early afternoon walk to the mailbox

near her century-old Echols County farmhouse, where she'd

collect rejection letters sent from publishing houses.

When the Royal's old metal spool ribbon would run dry,

Daugharty would turn to an ink pad and Q-tips hto freshen it,

then return to work, weaving "practice books" she never thought

would be published. …

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