El Paisano

Jean Hegland Speaks at Writes of Spring 2018

Jean Hegland author of such novels like Into the Forest and Still Time spoke to the students at the Rey Theater on campus.

Anthony Moreno, Reporter

Rio Hondo College’s Writes of Spring Festival concluded today with many great authors and speakers. Raised in Washington about eight miles from the Ohio border Hegland knew she loved reading at a young age. The now college professor said she felt “lucky to be born into a family of readers.” Hegland teaches Critical Thinking, Literature, and Creative Writing.  The author spoke about her admiration for the Writes of Spring Festival calling it “remarkable event”. Hegland told the audience about her previous jobs she held while writing her novels including creating stain-glass windows and being a housekeeper while also getting a BA in liberal arts at Washington State University.

Hegland began her hourlong presentation entitled “What Writers Really Do & How They Really Do It” with a quilt like collage of her favorite books of all time. She said writers specifically do three things: read, write, and share their work.

Reading is so important to Hegland as she said it should be to all writers. Writers are “sluts for plot and are fascinated by people, martians, and animals.”

Grapes of Wrath author John Steinback is the culprit in beginning Hegland’s obsession with reading. She called his work “the gateway drug for me.” Jean told the audience she is influenced by everything, the good and the bad. Her works have been called “poetic” and “page turning”

Writing is clearly the most important part of being a writer. Jean admitted to writing daily for over thirty-five years. While confessing it takes her from five to ten years to finish a novel. Hegland compared writing to training a marathon with the amount of time and energy it takes from you. She also made sure the audience didn’t feel discouraged. If they ever felt like their work wasn’t good enough the first time around. Jean then showed drafts of her work as well as the work of JK Rowling, Margaret Atwood, and EB White with marks and scribbles and whole paragraphs being removed.

The next slide of the presentation was a photo of a seemingly beaten down trailer in the middle of nowhere. This is actually Hegland’s office. When she needs to get away to write she walks to her trailer that’s in front of her house. and gets her much needed alone time. When asked if writing is a challenge she said of course!

“Yes it’s hard but what isn’t that’s truly worth something” she said emphatically.

Lastly, a writer needs to share their work with the world. Hegland began reading the beginning of her novel Into the Forest to the packed Rey Theater. She announced she has began work on her seventh novel before taking questions from the audience. Hegland was asked how long does it take from when the idea for a novel comes into her head to when she begins writing is, she said not long. She compares the process to making clay you give yourself something to work with and with all that you can mold and shape it into something great.

With all of Jean Hegland’s success she also spoke about some unfortunate times. Those times when publishers didn’t like her stuff and she felt like she wasn’t good enough. These are feelings that many people go through especially writers. We should take this and realize we can all be as successful as Jean Hegland.

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Jean Hegland Speaks at Writes of Spring 2018