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Class Notes with Stephanie Schwarten
The cliché is often the first obstacle a writer must overcome. No matter how compelling the subject, a story told from the same lens each time eventually becomes vapid, like a piece of over-chewed gum.
Capital University senior Stephanie Schwarten is a Professional Writing major and is in the process of writing a novel she hopes will offer a counter perspective to victims of sexual assault, a topic she has spent many hours researching.
Stephanie also works in Career Development as a peer career advisor and is the chief copy editor of The Chimes. Recently, she shared some of what inspires her to write, read, and to help others.
Stephanie: My novel is about a 17-year-old girl named Maddie who has been sexually assaulted by her boyfriend. The story begins a year after the assault and focuses mostly on how it has affected her relationships with boys and her ability to trust the world around her.
It's a bit of a love story, but it's a lot more than that. Throughout the process, I've done a lot of research and have spoken to rape survivors, as well as read several young adult novels about sexual assault to see how they cover it.
What I noticed is they all seem to cover it the same way – the assault happens when a girl is drunk at a party, and the novel follows her immediately after the assault as everyone she knows shuns and bullies her for speaking out about it. While that is a reality, it isn't every survivor's experience. I wanted to write a novel for young adults that captures a different, equally common experience: one where the rapist is someone the girl trusted, where she's afraid to tell people about it, and where her struggle to navigate her personal relationships is what is emphasized.
Stephanie: Probably the community here and the support it provides. I've grown so much over the last three years, not just in my writing but in every aspect of my life. I don't think I could have grown as much as I did without being challenged by and having the support of the faculty and my friends.
In my opinion, Capital has done a great job at providing a place for students to feel safe to push themselves out of their comfort zone.
Stephanie: My favorite book is and will always be Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, and I love to read Jack Kerouac and Chuck Klosterman as well! I write YA, so I read a lot of it too, and my favorite authors there have to be Jenny Han and Laurie Halse Anderson. I've probably read everything by them.
Stephanie: As it turns out, I might stay in Columbus for a while! I love it here. But LA will always be an option for me. I just love that it's a place filled with creative people who are passionate about their craft; everyone you meet is doing something cool. Plus, I'm really big into music, and the music scene is amazing there.
Stephanie: It is incredibly rewarding to help others, especially in such an important aspect of their lives. What I love about working in Career Development is that while I'm learning valuable skills to apply to my own life, I'm also given the opportunity to learn about so many of my peers and to assist them in their professional development.