New creative writing club creates community
Two years of Covid prevented creative writers on campus from coming together as a group outside the classroom. India David’25 wanted to fix that, so she gathered her friends and made a (well-attended) new club.
“There’s just so many people on this campus who love to interact and write stories,” says India. “Since Covid, people have learned to live by themselves and in their own world. We had to get that going again.”
And so was born the Aardvark Authors — a group of creative writers that quickly became one of the largest student groups on campus.
The core leadership team consists of president India David, vice president Sam Doherty, secretary Gray Jensen, treasurer Jonah Hillman, and social media chair Sydney Moses, whose love of aardvarks inspired the name. (“There’s no symbolism behind the name, and it’s good alliteration,” India quips.) Beren Engstrom is a member of the club and a close friend, but doesn’t currently hold a leadership position. All are in the class of 2025.
The seed for Aardvark Authors was planted before these students even set foot on campus. The majority of the group enrolled at Beloit as members of its first creative writing fellows, a pilot program to encourage budding writers to become involved in the literary community at Beloit as early as their first year. They also happened to enroll in Professor of English Chris Fink’s creative writing summer block course, which set them all on the path toward English degrees — including Beren, who wasn’t even considering the major at the time.
“It was nice being able to come to a really unfamiliar place and not feel like you’re on an island,” says Beren, whose sister, Millie, is a Beloit junior. “That first class had a positive outcome on everyone.”
He and India were happily surprised to find that the friendships they forged online lasted as they started college together, even if they joke that their personalities were different in a Zoom room than they were when they finally met in person. “We’re all still in the same friend group and still hang out and live in the same proximity,” says Beren.
It wasn’t long before these poets and fiction writers began asking to workshop each other’s work outside of their shared English courses. But they soon realized that there was likely an even bigger community of writers who were also craving both critique and camaraderie, especially after many clubs had quietly dissolved during the pandemic.
“We all took Chris’s intro creative writing class our second semester [spring 2022],” says India. “It was fun having a big group and different points of view. I was like, ‘I want to be able to do this constantly with people who do creative writing, but also people who are just interested in it and not majoring in it, and be able to come together and write stuff.’”
India’s idea didn’t take long to come to life with the help of her friends. After the creative writers chartered the club with the help of Student Engagement and Leadership (SEAL), more than 60 students showed interest at a campus involvement fair held this fall. An estimated 25 students showed for the Aardvark Authors’ first club event in September, and since then the group has alternated workshop and “free write” meetings with more fun writing-based activities, from hosting a How to Train Your Dragon movie watch party to a pen-pal activity with their new story characters. India hopes to gradually begin publishing student work on a website — and that the group can eventually have a special-interest house.
“There’s just so many people on this campus who love to interact and write stories!” says India. “Since Covid, people have learned to live by themselves and in their own world. We had to get that going again.”