Name: Christopher S. Davis
Programs completed at APU: BA in Professional and Creative Writing
Project Title: Rescued from Retirement: Raising a Grandchild with Special Needs and Surviving to Blog About It.
Hometown: Anchorage, AK
Best Classes at APU: I can’t think of a single class I’ve taken at APU that I didn’t enjoy. The instructors have always been warm and engaging, and the curriculum wonderfully challenging. However, the Writer’s Workshop I took last semester will always place far above the rest. I’ve never been in a room with so much raw talent. Without a doubt, every single student in that class could be a successful writer. From the first day, when we submitted our newborn bits and pieces to the class for critique, to the last when we showcased our polished prose with confidence, our instructor, Mei Mei, and fellow classmates provided sage wisdom and valuable insight. Yes, it could get unpleasant. It’s not easy watching a piece you’ve nursed from birth as it’s mercilessly shredded before your eyes. There was gentleness when a push was needed, but there was also harshness when a cut was better. We needed that to progress. It was uniquely gratifying to watch my own writing mature through this harrowing yet necessary process. And I can’t help feeling proud to have been counted as one of a class filled with so much creativity and brilliance.
What is your favorite APU memory? Last fall, Rosanne Pagano and I discussed my first assignment for the independent study, Media Writing; Blogs. The assignment was to write a “Day in The Life” blog entry about life as a grandparent raising a grandchild with special needs. There was a 300-word limit. I panicked, thinking there was no way I could tell a story with 300 words. She assured me it was possible. I was relieved at being able to devote my extra time and energy to this assignment since my other classes wouldn’t start for a couple of weeks. A week later, I was posting this first assignment on Blackboard, appalled at how I had murdered 500 words from an 800 word first draft. I knew with certainty that Rosanne was going to rip it to shreds, then sadly inform me that, ‘yes, Chris, doing this is intellectually impossible for you’. A few days later, Rosanne returned the evaluated piece. I opened it, fully expecting to see my writing infested with edit marks and prepared myself for a lengthy rewrite. Then, I blinked. She liked it. Yes, there were a few edit marks and suggestions, but her encouragement helped me see that I could do this. On that day, I found out what it’s like to have a lifelong dream validated.
What is going to be your next adventure post-APU? My senior project was entitled Rescued from Retirement: Raising a Grandchild with Special Needs and Surviving to Blog About It. I created this blog to connect with grandparents like me who are raising a disabled grandchild. Presently, it’s just a prototype. I have a few nonfiction flash pieces that I’ve posted on it, in addition to reviews I’ve written about some of the agencies in Anchorage that serve disabled children. I plan to expand my blog after I graduate, though. It will feature links to organizations that provide information useful to grandparents, like where to go for public assistance, and how to get healthcare for your grandchild. I will also invite other grandparents to get creative with their challenges, then furnish them a place to showcase their and their grandchildren’s writing, art, music, and photography. Believe me, if there’s one thing grandparents enjoy, it’s showing off their grandchildren. In addition to these features, I plan to host a forum where grandparents who are raising disabled grandchildren can post questions, share information, and vent to a sympathetic ear. After I’ve established my blog, I’d like to put out a call for submissions from other grandparents towards creating an anthology of creative nonfiction. There are so many stories in this unique population that need to see the light of day.
Any words of wisdom for students working on completing their degrees? Find or identify a life passion. Keep a detailed journal about every experience. Acknowledge an unsolvable problem exclusive to you. Once you’ve made these discoveries, ride them through your APU experience. Find a way to include them in your assignments. Believe me, there’s always a way. Search for facts that support them, but don’t be afraid to cross off something that ultimately doesn’t work for you. Do this, and by the time Senior Project rolls around, the hard work is done and you’ve created a life path.