By Dani Moritz-Long
Shari Koopmann, professor, English, was hard-pressed to find time to record her thoughts. With a busy schedule preventing her from sitting down to think — let alone write — she depended on brief moments between classes or time on the weekend not dedicated to chores to focus her thoughts and assemble them into something usable. Her writing was forced and squeezed into the limited-but-precious hours she could allocate for it — a clear disadvantage when you’re writing a novel and a definite challenge when you consider yourself a planner in need of carefully detailing characters, settings and plotlines before the story can even begin.
Luckily, Shari was granted a sabbatical that would finally allow her the quiet she needed to put pen to paper. During her leave, which spanned January to May of 2016, she soaked up every minute she had — spending the time she needed to think, plan, write and edit.
During her sabbatical, she edited a novel, wrote half of a new one and prepared a scholarly article. With several publications under her belt, ranging from a romantic suspense novel to poetry to literary criticism, Shari (who writes under an undisclosed pen name and with the collaboration of her partner) understood her creative process and was ready to put her time to good use.
“My sabbatical afforded me the time to allow the story to grow organically, and I think it’s much better as a result,” she explained.
Shari’s writing isn’t the only thing that benefited from her leave, however. The sabbatical was also beneficial for her students.
“The act of writing an article for publication has enhanced my ability to prepare new writers to participate in scholarly discourse,” she said. “Likewise, I’ll use the knowledge and experience that I’ve gained through writing, editing and publishing novels to help student creative writers develop their craft and learn to navigate the business of writing.”