English graduate Paige Moultrie begins new chapter as fiction writer – UMSL Daily

Paige Moultrie graduated magna cum laude from UMSL with a BA in English while working full-time as a stylist. During her time in the English program, she was a writer for Bellerive and Litmag and obtained three writing certificates. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Paige Moultrie didn’t think of going to college until she was 24, with an already successful full-time career as a hairstylist.

“What made this happen to me is that I always wrote, I always wanted to write and I had absolutely no idea, outside of high school, how to do that,” she said. declared. “The more writing workshops and writing classes I considered, the more it made sense for me to go to college.”

Last weekend, Moultrie graduated magna cum laude from the University of Missouri-St. Louis with a bachelor’s degree in english. While at UMSL, she served as editor for Bellerive and Litmag and had his work published in the latter. Additionally, she won three writing certificates and won the 2022 Robert Smith Writing Certificate Award – awarded annually to a senior graduate for outstanding performance in the writing certificate program.

“I’m very, very proud of myself for that,” Moultrie said. “I worked very hard.”

Moultrie, who grew up in Pacific, Missouri, was always creative and seemed destined to become a writer one day.

“I’ve probably been writing nonsense since I was 7 or 8,” she said. “I used to keep a big box of all my notebooks, and as I filled them I kept them in this tote under my bed. I refused to throw any of them away. between them, and they were filled with poetry and short stories.

She continued to write throughout her childhood and teenage years, but as she approached high school graduation, she felt uncertain about the future. At the request of her guidance counselor, she attended a job fair, where representatives from a cosmetology school caught her eye.

Two weeks after graduation, Moultrie enrolled in cosmetology school and began working as a stylist soon after. The field of cosmetology allowed Moultrie to express her creativity, for which she is grateful, but her passion for writing persisted.

About four years ago, her desire to learn more about composition, editing, and literature prompted her to enroll at St. Louis Community College. After completing her prerequisite courses, she transferred to UMSL.

The university offered everything Moultrie wanted. It was close to home, which made it easier for her to continue working full-time, and she was impressed by the well-regarded teachers.

“It’s amazing to see all these adults who have been doing it for so many years, and they still have that passion,” she said, noting the enthusiasm and expertise of the English Department Faculty. “You can tell they care about what they teach and who they teach.”

Initially, Moultrie intended to continue editing or publishing, but with the advice of Teaching Associate Professor Kate Watt, she acknowledged that she really wanted to focus on her development as a writer. Moultrie is a natural storyteller, but in the past she sometimes struggled to translate all of her ideas into her written work.

Watt helped her put method behind her creative writing and hone her skills.

“I started realizing, ‘Oh, that’s how you self-publish properly, that’s how you’ll rephrase these things to make them sound more like all those novels you’ve read,'” Moultrie said. “So instead of mimicking what I blindly read, what I’ve come to understand, that’s why we’re doing all these things.

” It is very important for me. I like to know why. I love knowing not just how we got here, but why we got there and why this is where we needed to be and what it’s going to do for us in the future. English is 100% on the building blocks. You have to learn all the rules before you can break them, and breaking them properly is what makes a good writer in my opinion.

These lessons have been helpful as a staff member of Bellerive and Litmag, campus literary journals produced by the Pierre Laclede Specialized College and the English Department, respectively. During the fall semester, Moultrie served as chair of the Bellerive committee, where she oversaw the editorial board and participated in the writing of each published article. She was also a poetry editor for the Litmag 2021 edition Last spring.

She found both positions illuminating and noted that it was much easier to objectively analyze and edit other people’s pieces than to edit her own work. However, during the submission process for Litmag, she had a front row seat to criticism from others.

The editorial board has selected her article, “Inhale and Exhale”, for publication. It started as a personal essay, but Moultrie reworked it into a creative non-fiction story. It details the day his older sister died as a teenager – his memories of that day at school, being sent home and his family’s grief.

“It’s a moving piece, but it’s meant to be a bit more uplifting and reflectively happier because I wrote it 10 years after that moment,” she said. “It’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to give someone else to read, and it’s probably one of my favorite things I’ve ever written. “

At first, Moultrie was thrilled that she had been chosen for publication, but due to the raw nature of the play, she grew increasingly nervous as the release date approached. The story includes real members of her large Catholic family, and she had no idea how they would react.

Yet she had nothing to fear.

“I was really proud of it after it came out, and my parents were like, ‘Oh my God, that was so good. We loved it,'” she said.

In addition to her work on campus literary journals, Moultrie has earned a Creative Writing Certificate, Professional writing certificate and Technical Writing Certificate through his lessons. She is particularly fond of the “Business Writing” course, compulsory for the Professional Writing Certificate.

Students learn the basics of business communication, such as memos and emails, but also how to write a business plan. Moultrie found it surprisingly satisfying and a welcome addition to his creative writing. His dedication to certificate programs earned him the 2022 Robert Smith Writing Certificate Award.

“I learned more in the two years I spent at UMSL than four years of high school and two years of community college,” she said. “It was an incredible experience.”

While Moultrie has the know-how for professional and technical writing, she plans to focus on writing fiction now that she’s graduated. She is drawn to the idea of ​​writing a dramatic tragedy – potentially a period piece.

No matter the future twists, she is happy to start a new chapter.

“I will try to submit my work everywhere,” Moultrie said. “My goal is to get 100 rejection letters. I want to submit 100 things, and I don’t care if anything gets published. I want to find my top five pieces that I really like, and I’m just going to submit, submit, submit and trying to get something national. My end goal is to publish a full novel, so I really want to focus on writing and publishing some of my shorter articles and possibly publishing a book.


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