Farm Wisdom: How Going Back Helped Move a Novel Forward


Sometimes life doesn’t lead to an internship. Carlin spent her summer working on the first draft and a revision of a novel in verse. Using habits and skills learned from poetry courses and a course on children’s literature at Mount Holyoke, Carlin wrote narrative poetry, telling the story of two fifteen-year-old girls from Iowa searching for their places in the sea.  The settings, mainly small-town Iowa and San Francisco, became characters unto themselves, so in writing about the landscape, it was important for Carlin to be surrounded by it while she wrote. This was possible for Iowa, but for San Francisco, she had to find residents willing to talk about their perspectives as well as do research into the city’s set up. This panel will focus on how setting influenced Carlin’s writing, and the tools she used to make what was unreachable to her feel tangible on the page.