Peter Rock talks craft at Philadelphia Alumni Writers House

By Brianne Simone II Contributing Writer

     Peter Rock, who was lucky enough to be born with a name already suited to an existence as a writer, visited F&M on the 29th of January. Though I spent most of his Craft Talk staring at the back of his head, I was fortunate to have a picture of his face situated in my line of sight. From what I saw in person, I can tell you he has close cropped, dark blond hair that shimmers with copper when shined on by a spotlight. The side of his face, which I did manage to catch a glimpse of, revealed pinkish skin spattered with the bumps and spots of oncoming age. His picture showed him in dark blue flannel, a shy smile and tilt of his head saying almost as much about Peter Rock’s humble personality as he himself said to us.

     After his glowing introduction, he admitted to his audience that he felt it didn’t truly capture him. His career as a writer was not easy and, at times, it wasn’t even fun. Rather, it was built on repeated humiliations and mistakes. Out of the twenty books he’s written, he has published seven.

     Sometime during his speech, it was revealed that he has a job besides his writing that consists heavily of reading and speaking about writing. This job affords him some time to himself, but he chooses to spend that time with his daughters more often than he spends it with his novels.

     His inspirations, or at least the authors he mentioned to, are Flannery O’Connor, Alice Monroe, and the writer of Bluets. Alice Monroe creates histories for her characters, details that may never make it to the page. Peter Rock wrote rules that his female character in his novel The Abandonment would have for herself and even did psychology tests for children in his character’s voice so he could learn more about her. He recommended a ton of research into whatever interested us, whatever confused us, and “if you have enough information yelling at the same frequency, you’ll yell back. That’s a story.”

     What I drew from this talk is that the life of a writer is not glamorous, especially if you happen to have a job and children. It’s something you do because you love to do it, even on days when you don’t love to do it. There are sacrifices that come with being a writer. And you can’t stop. You can’t take a year off because you don’t feel like it. If you do that, you’ll lose it. One of the last things he said before the talk ended was that we should fight for our story. Be stubborn. Be proud. If we don’t love our story, how can we expect others, too? Love your story. Love what you do. Love who you are.

     Fill your pages with that love and nothing you write will be boring.

Senior Brianne Simone is a contributing writer. Her email is bsimone@fandm.edu. 

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