By Nicholas Wynn and Mackenzie Wagner
On Oct. 20, McNick alum and author Sarah Domet visited McNicholas to speak to students and faculty about her new book and what it takes to be a writer. Domet graduated from McNick in 1996, where she was the Eco Club Secretary, Mardi Gras Queen, and a Kairos leader.
Her writing capabilities began showing when Domet was a McNick student. She was a part of both the creative writing program and AP English, where she had Combs as a teacher. “I knew even back then that Sarah was a talented writer. Her words were filled with conviction and passion. I had no doubt that someday they would provide comfort and enjoyment to others,” Combs said.
After McNick, Domet studied English Literature with a minor in Spanish Literature at Miami University, but she “always secretly harbored this wish of becoming a writer.”
“Writing was really my outlet, though it took me a while to admit that publicly,” she said. With the encouragement of her teachers, she decided to earn her PhD in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Cincinnati.
Domet’s first published book was titled 90 Days to your Novel, which outlined how to create the first draft of a novel in 90 days. It came about when she was asked if she had any novel ideas and improvised the pitch, then wrote the novel while she was still at UC.
Her current novel, The Guineveres, came about as a result of her first. When she was asked if she had ever actually written a novel in 90 days, Domet decided to follow that format. The novel follows the lives of four girls, all named Guinevere, who have been abandoned at a convent.
Domet said that she didn’t really have an inspiration for the story. “Who needs inspiration when you have the memories from your own Catholic childhood,” she said. “There’s no better place in writing than to borrow from your lives…. Writers have to see things twice: in their own life and for their writing.”
Later in her speech, Domet offered ten tips on how to be a writer:
- “Write. You have to write to be a writer.”
- “Read, and read a lot.”
- “Forget inspiration.” Domet said that writing is the art of applying “the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair,” and that inspiration isn’t useful.
- “Observe the world with curiosity. A lot of writing comes from the details that you don’t know will make it into your writing.”
- “Learn to kill your darlings…. You have to get rid of stuff that’s not working out.” Domet said that “just because you’ve written it once doesn’t mean it’s the best you’ve ever written,” and that you can never run out of ideas.
- “Persistence. Persistence. Persistence.”
- “Embrace rejection…. You have to embrace rejection as a battle wound.”
- “Write with empathy, and not ego.” Domet said that writing, especially creative writing, is so personal because it involves pouring a large part of yourself into it. “Find your reason for writing. The reader can always tell if you’re writing for empathy or ego,” she said.
- “Never lose your sense of passion and your joy for writing…. Make sure you’re pursuing dreams you are passionate about.”
- “It’s simple. Never give up. Never give up on your writing. Never give up on those things you’re passionate about.”
“I think vulnerability is important for writers,” Domet added. “The best material for writers is the material of our everyday lives.”
“If you want to write, you have to make it a priority,” Domet also said. “You have to be really protective of your writing time. There’s always something going on that’s more pressing…but you have to be protective of your writing hours.”
At the end of her speech, Domet took questions from the student body, one of which was about writer’s block. “When I get writer’s block, there are lots of ways to work through it…. The first thing I do is force myself to write,” she said. “The other thing I do is take my notebook out and write by hand. I sometimes think that helps me get past what’s stumping me at that time.” She also said she tries writing prompts if she can’t think of an original storyline. Her overall point was “I never stop writing because I have writer’s block.”