In a creative nonfiction course at the University of Minnesota, Morris taught by Athena Kildegaard, Bekah Morris fell in love with writing again. As a child, Bekah wrote stories about dragons, princesses, cats, and dogs. During high school, her love of reading overpowered her fondness for writing. “I read in my free time, and often told my friends that my parents wouldn’t let me go hang out only because the book I was reading was too good,” she says. While pursuing communication and English degrees in undergrad, Bekah’s interest in writing was reinvigorated. “Athena’s creative nonfiction class at Morris changed my entire perspective,” she states. This class, which she had originally signed up for only because it fit into her schedule, put her on a new path. After reading almost only fiction for the first 20 years of her life, she saw the potential for lively, captivating non-fiction—and the possibility that she’d contribute her own efforts to the writing of truth.
Today, Bekah is enrolled in a low-residency program at Goucher College pursuing an MFA in creative nonfiction. Much of the program is online with a small portion of each semester where students visit the campus in Baltimore to attend classes, lectures, and workshops. “I chose this program because it actually reminded me of Morris. It’s a small (private, not public) liberal arts school,” she says, adding, “…I enjoyed my experience at Morris so immensely that I wanted a similar experience in grad school.”
Bekah is a firm believer that reading attentively is crucial for a writer. She pays close attention to how different authors manipulate dialogue, pace, point of view, and descriptive language to make their writing impactful. “When I read I find myself looking for these things now and taking note when an idea flashes in my mind where I think, ‘I could do something like this in my own work,’” she says.
She also cites learning the importance of revisions as the lesson that has most improved her writing. Bekah states, “I’m the type of writer who sometimes believes I have moments of genius (don’t we all?). But then I put away a piece of writing for a week, or longer, and when I come back to it I realize how much work it needs.” She also says that the opposite happens. Sometimes, she writes something that she knows is absolutely awful, but if she comes back to it after a while, she can find a fragment or idea that she can use so start a new piece.
While working on her master’s degree, Bekah also regularly publishes on her blog, BeingBeks, which she started in January of this year. The blog is organized in four groupings—book reviews, introspections, nonfiction, and poetry. She explains, “I like to dabble in a lot of stuff, and so I tried to come up with different categories that would motivate me to keep writing a variety of form and content.” Always the incessant reader, her favorite pieces to write are the book reviews. “These categories are the categories that I enjoy and love to write about (especially books) and so that’s why they are there,” she states. Bekah started the blog to give herself a public platform where her work could get out to the world, but she also writes plenty of material that she doesn’t share. “It is scary to put some things online, and I have quite a bit of work that I actually have saved on my computer that might not ever go into the public sphere or onto my blog,” she says.
Bekah says her desire is to write about things that happen all around us everyday that might go unnoticed. Her goal is to make the reader look at a mundane activity or object differently than they had before, to associate the subject of her writing with one of their own pre-existing thoughts.
“It’s important to sometimes make the unmemorable memorable,” she says.
Follow Bekah on Instagram @storygrazer.