Johanna Gohmann has written for Salon, Chicago Sun-Times, Bust, Babble.com, Elle, Red, The Irish Independent, The Dubliner, Parade.com, and YourTango.com. Her essays were selected for the anthologies: A Moveable Feast - Life Changing Food Encounters Around the World, The Best Sex Writing 2010, and The Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 (which recently received an Independent Publisher Book Award).
"Majoring in Writing allowed me to explore different genres and really challenge myself creatively. It helped me to hone my voice, and introduced me to some amazing contemporary writers. It also forced me to write…A LOT. And I'm now very grateful that I know how to make a deadline."
What did you come away with?
I came away with a strong sense of my own style. I also left feeling very versatile, which later helped me in a variety of writing gigs – everything from writing for a construction newsletter in Chicago to reviewing erotica for a website.
What did you learn here that you don't think you could have learned any other place?
I adored my professors at UE and felt a level of attention and support that I don't know people experience at larger universities. The professors were deeply passionate about writing, and this was infectious and inspiring. I also felt they treated all of my work (even horrific love poems) with respect, and for a fledgling writer with an oh-so-tender ego, this kind of encouragement is invaluable. I felt safe enough there to let my imagination go berserk.
Did you have any memorable experience (in or out of the classroom) that changed you as a writer or a creative thinker?
I can remember reading Joyce Carol Oates "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been" and my socks being blown off. I can remember how it felt to see my first short story in print in The Evansville Review. I can remember sitting in Harlaxton and struggling to describe Notre Dame, which I had just visited for the first time the weekend before. I can remember having the rather surprising realization that non-fiction could be just as powerful as fiction. I can remember hearing Molly Peacock read some beautiful poems at a Coffee Hour. These experiences - and dozens of others at UE - all shaped me as a writer.
In addition, what could we do to make things better?
The only thing I would have liked would have been a separate, practical class on the different jobs/internships available to writers, what they're really like, and how to pursue them. I think as a young gal from the Midwest, I didn't quite understand how to move to the big city and get a job.*
*The Department of Creative Writing now offers Copyediting, which includes discussing submissions, resumes, job searches, and internships.