Name: Kate DeVantier
Major(s), Minor(s): English, Education
Graduation Year: 2016
Astrological Sign: It depends! I’m right on the edge of when one sign changes to another, so sometimes different books give varying dates – depending on what you’re referencing, I’m either a Leo or a Virgo. It kind of works, though, because my personality has matches in each sign.
1. Other than class assignments, what kinds of things do you write or have you written?
I did a lot of journalistic writing in high school as part of the school newspaper, but by far I prefer to write creatively. I lean towards the Fiction/Fantasy genre, although once for a creative writing class years ago I wrote and self-published a short Realistic Fiction story. Most of the time, I’m plotting that epic best-selling Fantasy saga that’s been on my mind for years that I just haven’t gotten around to writing down yet. Of course, it’ll have to be published fairly soon if I plan on paying off my students loans in the next century.
2. What piece of writing are you most proud of?
Probably that Realistic Fiction piece. I was 16, melodramatic and excessively descriptive, but I worked hard for four months to get that story finished and published on time (an accomplishment, since it was 30 pages longer than the requirement and I’m picky). I like to think that I’ve come a long way as a writer since I wrote it, but I still look at Sing Me Home with distinct fondness and pride.
3. Where is your favorite place to write?
I’d like to say something very unorthodox and poetic – like behind a waterfall or in a rose garden – but most of the time I find myself tapping away at my computer in bed. If what I’m writing is really as good as I want it to be, however, I lose myself in the page completely and forget wherever it is I am.
4. Do you have any interesting quirks and/or routines you follow when writing or when you are preparing to write? What are they?
I’m a pretty religious planner when it comes to writing, either academically or personally. I’m not the kind of person who is able to just sit down and type out an A paper without having some sort of skeleton first – I need to meticulously map it out. I also tend to read what I’ve written to myself over and over again, even if it’s just a sentence at a time. Once I’m fairly satisfied with what I’ve written, I’ll read it one more time, start doubting myself, and force my wonderful roommate to listen while I read it out loud since she can’t escape.
5. Who is your favorite writer? Why?
Sheesh, that’s like asking what my favorite outfit is – it depends on the season and the weather and who I’m with and where I’m going and what I’m doing. Often, if I like what I’m reading, my favorite author changes week to week. There are some who constantly make my favorites list, though: JK Rowling, of course, but also J.R.R. Tolkien, Margaret Weiss, Tracy Hickman, Christopher Paolini, David Eddings, Piers Anthony, Jodi Picoult, Suzanne Collins, George R.R. Martin, and John Gardner, to name a few. I took a mythology class last year that got me into classics like Homer, Virgil, and Dante, as well. I took a few literature courses abroad and really enjoyed Gaskell.
6. What was the best writing experience of your life?
I don’t know that I have one spectacular moment where the heavens opened up and choirs sang as I was struck with inspiration. Writing, both academically and personally, is a tough process that I think really challenges a person – but in a good way. I don’t think my words on the page would look as good if they didn’t need a little sweat and blood to put them there. When I’ve finished something particularly difficult, or a piece that I think accurately reflects what I was trying to express, then I’ve reached a very rewarding part of the process… which is a very good experience indeed.
When it comes to my own writing, I tend to be a perfectionist, and that really bogs down the process. Planning does help, but sometimes I find it difficult to keep writing a rough draft if a particularly poor sentence sticks out and distracts me. I need to remember that a draft is just a draft, after all, and that getting some semblance of my ideas on the page is a perfectly good start. In some of my more personal pieces, I need to gain some confidence and write for myself rather than for others.
8. What advice do you have for other Wittenberg writers?
One, there is a difference between not knowing a “rule” of writing and intentionally breaking that rule so as to create a desired effect. Good writing doesn’t always need to be by the book, but it is important that if you’re breaking the rules, you know it. Two, nobody is a perfect writer. It sounds cliché, but sometimes it helps to remember that you’re not surrounded by writing geniuses that drag around a personal muse on a leash. I’m an advisor, but I still bring in almost every single paper I am assigned to write so that a second pair of eyes can look it over. Know that the Writing Center isn’t some sort of remedial deal but a great opportunity to have a discussion with someone who works just as hard as you to produce a paper.
9. What should students know about you when they come in to visit you in the Writing Center?
I overuse dashes. They’re great – you literally can use them for so many different things. Also, I love fragments. Seriously. And I like commas. I tend to use them more than necessary, though I do try to avoid run-ons. I also like starting sentences with “and,” something that just occurred to me while writing this. I read quickly, but then I reread and reread, so honestly it probably takes me as long or longer than other people to get through something. Sometimes I’m annoyed that you can’t use 2nd person in academic papers and am deliberately ignoring that rule for this bio. Does this section need to be only about Writing Center things? Some other things – I like seafood and am considering petitioning Witt to allow me to bring my dog to school with me, since, you know, “man’s best friend” and all.
10. What’s the best part about working in the Writing Center?
That, right there, is a million dollar question. I’ve moaned about every job I’ve ever had, but this opportunity is one that I look forward to every time (even though I work in the morning.) It’s great to be working on something that I’m passionate about – words and opinions and expressing yourself effectively through text – but it’s even better that I’m getting to meet new people and build friendships that I hope will endure.