Many times, most art starts with an idea, a spark of inspiration, but as time progresses and the work passes through different hands, it doesn’t always end as originally planned. 

The publishing process can often reflect the same qualities as the writing stage, and three authors and an editor will share their unique experiences to the Ball State community during the 14th annual In Print Festival of First Books. 

“I think for us the main reason behind [the In Print Festival of First Books] is we want to show our creative writing students specifically, but all the students, here’s kind of a model for a path to success in this type of career,” Mullins said. 

What: In Print Festival of First Books

When: March 20, 21 7:30 p.m.

Where: Art and Journalism room 175

The event is open to the public and copies of the authors' books will be for sale. 

Similar to previous years, the event will be broken into two days. The three writers — poet Chen Chen, fiction author Maria Romasco Moore and creative nonfiction author Dustin Parsons — will read selected portions from their recently published books. 

On the following night, Allison Joseph, an editor from the Crab Orchard Review, will join the writers in a panel discussion about literary editing and publishing, where attendees can ask questions. 

“We prep the students, and we teach [the authors’] books in our classes, so the students have spent the semester reading this particular author or maybe even more than one of the authors just depending on the class,” Mullins said. “As they read and discuss and think, they come up with questions that they’d like to ask this writer… Here, they are meeting the person whose book they’ve been reading all semester.”

Romasco Moore, who wrote “Ghostographs,” said she is looking forward to the panel discussion because she plans to speak about combining words and images, as well as her experiences with the publishing process. 

“I know one thing that really surprised me — and one thing that all wives or friends or people who aren't in the writing world are often surprised about — is how slow publishing is,” Moore said. “The time elapsed of me sending out my manuscript [to publishers] saying, ‘We’d like to publish your manuscript,’ and there actually being a book, was years.”

Like Moore, Dustin Parsons said he has been able to answer a lot more questions about the process since publishing his book, “Exploded View: Essays on Fatherhood with Diagrams.”

Both he and Mullins said they hope those in attendance are able to take away the idea that being a professional writer is not an unobtainable profession for anyone. 

“It's not all about being a writer and publishing your book,” Mullins said. “If you want to be involved in literature, you can work for a literary magazine, you can work for a publishing house. There's a lot of things editors and publishers can do.” 

In addition to the In Print Festival, the three writers will also visit creative writing classes and organization workshops, such as The Broken Plate. As Ball State’s literary magazine, The Broken Plate’s 2019 issue will also be released during the In Print Festival of First Books. 

During these interventions, Chen Chen said he wants to talk about the differences between a writer and an author, which he learned by traveling and sharing his experiences from publishing his poetry book, “When I Grow Up I Want to be a List of Further Possibilities."

“When I’m working on the writing, I try not to think too much about where it ultimately is going to be published or if it’s going to be published,” Chen said. “I just really try to focus on crafting the piece and making it as strong as I can make it. For me, [being] an author means being more [within] the public side of the end results of writing … When I’m in author mode, and I’m traveling to places, I’m meeting with people and sharing my work and getting to hear those thoughts from readers and from other writers, I’m in that kind of mindset.”

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