Author speaks to students about finding inspiration in everyday life

Carlye Pollack and Carlye Pollack

Rebecca Solnit, spoke of her writing career and the inspiration behind her works to students, faculty and guests on Monday evening.

As an award winning independent writer, cultural historian, art critic, public intellectual and political activist, she also read passages from her books and gave audience members the opportunity to ask questions at the end.

Solnit knew at a young age that she wanted to become enriched in literature.

Starting out as a journalist, Solnit soon realized she was set out to be an essayist.

She had a thirst for “voice,” flexibility and a meandering style, she said.

At the age of 20 she sold her first book about six artists who were a part of beat culture in the 1950’s on the West Coast.

From there, her career in writing took off, releasing over 16 books.

The London Guardian, a newspaper in London, described Solnit as “One of the most magnificent writers of our time.”

During the anti-nuclear movement, Solnit visited the Nevada nuclear test site.

She said that visit is what taught her how to write.

This sparked the political and intellectual activism which is prevalent throughout her works.

Solnit keeps her passion through one simple action: walking.

Simply going on walks sparks her imagination, having the freedom to let the mind wander instead of being influenced by outside sources.

“Sometimes a place is your best teacher,” Solnit said.

Abigail Cloud, a University instructor who teaches literary editing and publishing, came to listen to Solnit speak on behalf of her book process.

“Some of her subjects of her books are really close to my own interests as a writer,” Cloud said.

Cloud is also a writer and poet who finds inspiration in humans’ need to find meaning in things.

Throughout her speech, Solnit talked about human needs and how a “new picture” has emerged since the attack of the World Trade Center.

Solnit has spent time researching the reactions of people in disastrous situations when authority ceases to exist.

“We need to have membership in something bigger than us,” Solnit said. “We need our lives to have meaning and purpose.”

She also spoke about college students trying to find their purpose in life and the importance of “writing their own stories.”

The price of stories, the necessity of becoming a teller of your own story, is what you come to do at college, Solnit said.

Kelly Kiehl, a fine arts graduate student at the University attended the speech to find out more on Solnit.

“I think that she’s a really interesting person,” Kiehl said. “I think she’s an uncommonly optimistic person.”