Battling addiction, poverty, and the regular struggles of high school students, Jason Allen overcame them and turned them into a work of writing he can be proud of.
Creative writing professor Jason Allen was Thursday’s guest speaker at “Writing Now, Reading Now” hosted by the Wichita State Department of Creative Writing at the Ulrich Museum of Art.
Allen read excerpts from his most recent fictional novel, “The East End,” and his ongoing memoir. Her new memoir addresses her struggles growing up in poverty and how her addiction disrupted her educational journey.
“I did very well in school through high school,” Allen said. “I wasn’t ready to go to college at all because I was falling very deep into alcoholism.”
After high school, Allen waited until he was 29 to start his college career and went full steam ahead. Allen now has a doctorate in creative writing.
Allen’s inspiration to write stems from his love of reading as a child, but it wasn’t until 2014 that he began publishing his work. As he likes the art of writing, he also likes to talk about it with others.
“It’s super fun to talk about it,” Allen said. “You can approach it from all angles.”
One thing Allen enjoys about writing is his ability to develop themes without too much pre-planning. He was able to exercise this in his favorite text so far, “The East End”.
“I was able to really reflect on where I’m from and the people I knew there,” Allen said. “But I could make up a lot of details because it’s fiction.”
Allen’s advice to budding young writers is to sit down and write as often as possible.
“Really make it a habit,” Allen said. “The more you do anything (like a sport), the better you’ll start to learn some of these skills.”
Allen said he was really happy teaching at Wichita State.
“I’ve lived all over the country,” Allen said. “I never imagined being in Kansas…but I really love what it’s like to be in Wichita. Everyone has been so nice and welcoming.