Two graduates in creative writing, Dan Brady ’04 and Sarah Blake ’07, return to TCNJ to celebrate their success as authors and read new books released this month. Below, they reminisce about their time in college and share the wisdom they gained during their publishing careers.
How’s it feel to go back to your alma mater to celebrate the release of your book?
Sarah: I always love coming back to TCNJ. We feel like at home.
Dan: It’s so nice to be welcomed back to the TCNJ! The support has been amazing and I’m so happy to be able to launch the book where my life as a writer began.
Can you give TCNJ students any advice on how to make this leap into publishing?
Sarah: It’s delicate. I think the best advice is to not rush. It’s time. And it’s best to have amassed a lot of quality work before venturing into the business side of writing. Enjoy writing without the business side for as long as possible!
Dan: I think it’s important to realize that books are made up of their smallest parts – individual poems, short stories, scenes from a novel – so at least initially focus on those small units. Before you think about publishing a book, you should focus on writing good poems or stories and submitting them to literary journals. To go from something you wrote in a Google Doc to an actual live-published book, you need to focus on the fundamentals: writing and submitting.
How has your time at TCNJ prepared you for where you are now?
Sarah: Catie Rosemurgy and Cathy Day taught me everything I needed to know about being a good reader and an articulate reader. The writing communities have taught me how to write press releases, marketing copy, reviews, and other types of writing which have been extremely helpful.
Dan: My time at TCNJ, particularly in the creative writing program and through Ink, laid the foundation for much of what I love about my life today. It showed me how to make friends and build community through the arts, which were central to my life after college, and taught me the skills I would need for a career in the arts. , from programming to marketing to fundraising and more.
If there’s one thing you could say to current TCNJ creative writing students that you think would help them the most during their time here as future writers, what would it be?
Sarah: I can’t think of just one… Use the library! Attend the readings! Read the interviews! Write your favorite authors notes on how they are your favorite authors! Be generous with what you can be – your time, your praise, your kindness. And at least once a year, practice describing your work and your goals as an artist.
Dan: I would tell them something that one of my creative writing teachers, Frank Hannold, told me: “In a creative endeavor, the only difference between an amateur and a professional is that a professional never gives up. You will get there. Believe in your own handwriting. To push on.
Dan Brady is a TCNJ graduate of 2004 and founder of Ink, the TCNJ student-run creative writing group. He is the author of strange children (Publishing Genius Press, 2018), as well as two books of poetry. Brady joins us on campus to launch his latest collection of poetry, Subtexts (Genius Press Editions, 2022).
Event Info: Tuesday, February 22, 12:30-1:30 p.m., Education 115, Zoom simulcast https://bit.ly/DanBradySubtexts
Sarah Blake graduated from TCNJ in 2007 and has published three volumes of poetry, as well as a novel—Naamah (Riverhead Books, 2019) – which received the Goldberg Prize from the Jewish Book Council. Blake returns to the TCNJ to read an excerpt from his new novel, Clean Air (Workman Publishing, 2022), published February 2.
Event Information: Friday, February 25, 12:30-1:30 p.m. Zoom only https://bit.ly/SarahBlakeCleanAir
— Samantha Segreto ’22