Molly ‘Moe’ Godat, a third-year English and Communications major, sits by a window overlooking the Library Quad at the new Starbucks on campus. Godat has taken Maryville’s creative writing workshop courses for two years, and has a lot to say about creativity. Her blog, Our Lonely Bones, is a collaborative effort with other artistic minds, and can be found here.
What motivated you to start a blog? Have any other collaborators jumped on board?
“I actually haven’t worked on it much this summer. All last semester, I tried really hard to post as often as I could. As far as collaborating goes, I actually have friends from other schools who are working on things to put in right now. I reached out to them again and was like, ‘Hey, I don’t have time to create things right now, so what would you think about creating some things that I could put on there?’ I have a friend who is majoring in music…he read over [one of my] poems and he’s making a score for one. This is what I want; it’s just a place for people who want to create and at least put their work out there somewhere…Any piece of creative work I’m totally open to taking and putting on there. It’s not supposed to be just about me.”
How do you think digital mediums like blogs affect young creative writers? It’s a different ballgame now than it was for Dana (Professor Dana Levin, Distinguished Writer in Residence) and Jess (Dr. Jess Bowers, English Faculty).
“Honestly, I think it’s made it a lot easier. Number one, you can create your own site, so you already have a place where you can send people to read your things rather than printing them out and mailing it to them. It’s also made it easier to get ahold of magazines and know what opportunities are available, to be able to send your work through email.”
Do you think it’s made magazines more picky?
“I think it has made them more picky, just because they can receive a lot more than they did before, but I don’t think that’s necessarily bad. There are so many good writers and creators out there. While it is discouraging to get turned down so many times, I mean, that’s just how it goes. There’s always going to be people who are better than you. You’re supposed to be able to grade the submissions that beat you out and know where you’re supposed to go from there. You have to look and say, ‘Okay, they did this thing better than I did, I don’t want to make the same exact thing, but how can I manipulate my work to better fit what these magazines are looking for?’ Because creative writing just isn’t for yourself.”
You said, “Creative Writing just isn’t for yourself.” Can you expand on that?
“I mean, it can be, if you’re Emily Dickinson and you’re just writing up in your room…I think it’s a little bit more complicated than that. If you want to make it in the real world, being a creative writer, you accept that you’re going to get kicked a couple of times….If it’s all about yourself and you don’t relay it in a way other people can relate to, then no one’s gonna want to read it. You have to take a piece of yourself and spread it out so other people can understand it.”
How has a gender-neutral pen name helped or hindered your writing identity?
“I don’t really know what the driving force behind changing it [to Moe Godat] was…We all have so many faces that we put on for the crowd, and I just felt like me as “Molly” is a very different person from my writing persona, or whatever I’m trying to convey. I’m a Communications major, so I have to go out there and perform, in a way…I was also called ‘Moe’ or ‘Momo’ when I was growing up, which has the nostalgia in it, but it [also] allowed me to create this new persona that I could fill up…It’s a lot easier to create whenever you know who you are.”
How have the creative writing workshops at Maryville benefited you as a writer?
“They’re very much intimate settings, that can be hard to get used to at first. I think that if you want to be a good writer, a setting like that is paramount. You need to put yourself in those situations where you feel uncomfortable. You go into class and you have this piece of work that you put down on the table and you go, “Oh my god, this is nowhere where I need it to be!” Then you have all these people reading it, and they can identify the good in it and also tell you what needs to change.”
Can you expand on the idea that there’s always one seed of good in every piece a student presents in workshop?
“Definitely. With creative writing and the workshops, you know that even if a piece is good, you don’t always have to fit it in the story you originally put it into. As long as you keep it filed away, you’re always going to have another story to return to…You have to learn that some people, the teachers here, are gonna be better than you, but that doesn’t mean that one day you can’t be better than them. I think that’s their overall goal, to make you the best that you can possibly be.”
While Molly Godat’s career at Maryville is only halfway through, she has already hoarded a lifetime’s worth of creative wisdom. To follow Molly’s artistic and professional journey, check out Our Lonely Bones or her website.