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Creative writing is a time-honored occupation, major, and discipline in the United States

and the World that dates back to the great thinkers Aristotle (335 BC) and Horace (19 BC).

However, very few universities in this country offer a major in Spanish creative writing (there

are three, to be exact). At the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, a Spanish creative writing

elective was offered for the very first time in the Spring 2018 semester with Dr. Edwin Murillo.

This course helped convince me of the importance of not only creative writing, but also Spanish

creative writing. I want this project to honor both while still cultivating my voice, both a young

person and a nonnative speaker of Spanish. In addition, I wish to defend the exercise of creative

writing as direct application of second language acquisition.


The pursuit of creative writing has been of interest to me since middle school when I

filled a composition notebook with story ideas and attempted to write a dystopian love story on

my eighth-grade trip to Washington, D.C. I never wrote anything based on those notebook ideas,

and I only completed a chapter of the love story before I got discouraged and distracted. As

Stephen King explains, ideas for writing do not need to be written down in order to be

remembered; the best ones will stay over time and circumstance: “My idea about a good idea is

one that sticks around and sticks around and sticks around” (“Creative Writing Lessons: Creative

Writing Tips, Advice and Lessons from Bestseller Stephen King”).

The Spanish connection to creative writing began in the Fall 2017 semester in Dr. Lynn

Purkey’s Introduction to Textual Analysis and Composition (SPAN 3130) and Dr. José-Luis

Gastañga’s Spanish Composition and Conversation II (SPAN 3120) classes. It was so amazing to

me that so much detail and impact could be packed into just a few pages of text. Reading in
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Spanish forced me to think harder and pay so much more attention in order to make sure I

understood the literal meaning of the stories. In addition, we also searched for the word play, the

hidden meanings, and the cultural connections in the stories. These classes made me appreciate

the complexity of creative writing, which I took advantage of before as a passive reader. Now I

see that writing is a form of art and a serious discipline.

The Spanish Creative Writing class with Dr. Edwin Murillo (SPAN 3999) connected

the three (creative writing, Spanish, and stories) for me. We learned that there are only three

universities in the United States that offer a master’s degree in Spanish creative writing: New

York University, the University of Texas at El Paso, and University of Iowa. Also, our creative

writing class was the first of its kind at UTC, and we are going to have a collection of our

writings published as an anthology. I am not afraid to write anymore because I recognize the

importance of it now. In an interview with La Nación, Mario Vargas Llosa says, “It is important

that technical and scientific progress be accompanied by the hesitant attitude brought by art and

literature, because art and literature make us doubt” (2017). It is not a bad thing to be uncertain.

In addition, creative writing in Spanish has expanded my vocabulary as I looked for the perfect

word in a dictionary or thesaurus. It was the application of everything I had learned in all my

previous Spanish classes—they were preparing me for this.


The basis of this project began this semester in the Spanish creative writing class; I want

to continue to write about some of the characters from different homework assignments and in-

class writing workshops. One such character is Adelaide, and the relationships with her deceased

sister and abusive mother. I want to explore more of her past and a modern encounter with her
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mother, who is now working for forgiveness. Another story I wish to pursue is the relationship

between a brother and sister who have been abandoned by their father. The unnamed brother

steps into many paternal roles as he helps raise his sister. I want to focus on familial relations

because family is a very important theme in Latin American life and culture.

I will continue writing in the elective class this semester, and I want to keep writing over

the summer in order to stay in that mindset. I would like to write most of my project in the Fall

2018 semester and count it as one credit hour. Then the Spring 2019 semester will be mostly for

editing and revising while counting as three credit hours. I will commit 2-3 hours per week on

individual work on my project and start with weekly or biweekly check-in meetings with my

thesis director as recommended by the Honors College.

I want to reference my textbooks from the three classes that led me to this project. Those

are Aproximaciones by Edward H. Friedman et al. in Introduction to Textual Analysis and

Composition (SPAN 3130), Taller de Escritura Creativa by Marcela Guijosa and Berta Hiriart in

Creative Writing in Spanish (SPAN 3999), and El Cuento Hispánico by Edward J. Mullen and

John F. Garganigo in Spanish Composition and Conversation II (SPAN 3120). I have looked at

some other articles for aid in translation and Spanish creative writing in addition to modern-day

examples of creative writing by Andrés Neuman, Guadalupe Nettel, and Valeria Luiselli. In

contrast to these and the classic works in the textbooks, I want my stories to be realistic instead

of having magical realism.


The final format of the project will be a collection of 5-6 short stories about various

family relations entirely in Spanish in approximately 75 pages. The stories will not interconnect

and will be fairly different in format, length, and content like Phil Klay’s Redeployment (2014). I
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will also include an introduction of 7-10 pages on the project and myself. This introduction will

defend the concept of creative writing and its applicability to learning another language. For this

purpose, references will be made to the work of Aristotle and Horace in addition to more modern

writers like Percy Shelley and Mario Vargas Llosa. I will present it in a live reading setting and

invite Spanish majors and minors, the Honors College, friends, family, and native speakers in the

Chattanooga community. If the Honors College or the Thesis Review Board asks that I translate

my project into English, I will gladly do that also.

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Aristotle. “Poetics.” 335 BC. PDF file.

Bishop, Wendy, and David Starkey. “Translation.” Keywords in Creative Writing,

University Press of Colorado, 2006, pp. 186–190. JSTOR,

Bruton, Anthony S., et al. “Perceived Writing Likes and Needs in Spanish and English as

Foreign Languages.” Hispania, vol. 93, no. 3, 2010, pp. 471–489. JSTOR, JSTOR,

Dinesen, Tracy Rutledge. “Creative Writing in the Intermediate Spanish Classroom: A Practical

Example.” Hispania, vol. 91, no. 1, 2008, pp. 249–250. JSTOR, JSTOR,

Friedman, Edward H., et al. Aproximaciones. McGraw-Hill, 2012.

Guijosa, Marcela, and Berta Hiriart. Taller De Escritura Creativa. Paidós, 2003.

Horace. “Ars Poetica.” 19 BC. PDF file.

Klay, Phil. Redeployment. Penguin, 2014.

Luiselli, Valeria. La Historia de Mis Dientes. Sexto Piso, 2013.

Mullen, Edward J., and John F. Garganigo. El Cuento Hispánico. McGraw-Hill, 2012.

Nettel, Guadalupe. El Matrimonio de los Peces Rojos. Páginas de Espuma, 2013.

Neuman, Andrés. Hacerse el Muerto. Páginas de Espuma, 2011.

Premat, Silvina. “Mario Vargas Llosa y Jorge Edwards, en Defensa de las Letras.” La Nación,

La Nacion, 4 May 2018,

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Rosario, Nelly. “Seeing Double: Creative Writing as Translation.” Callaloo, vol. 35, no. 4,

2012, pp. 1001–1005.,

Shelley, Percy Bysshe. “A Defence of Poetry.” 1840. PDF file.

The Write Channel with Nicola Valentine. “Creative Writing Lessons: Creative Writing Tips,

Advice and Lessons from Bestseller Stephen King.” Online video clip. YouTube.

YouTube, 24 January 2015. Web. 25 February 2018.