A life in letters

Published Ferris professor shares her love and advice for writing

Professor Deirdre Fagan is one of many published professors on campus, and her latest book expects to release this coming September.

Like some students on campus, Fagan first published in college newspapers — writing movie reviews and satirical pieces. Even with that, she didn’t seriously call herself a writer until the 2010s. Realizing she missed writing and wanted to continue it after graduating, Fagan settled comfortably into the title.

“Writing is my happy place, and if I go too long without writing, I feel like a huge part of my life is missing,” Fagan said.

Professor Fagan’s first book, “Critical Companion to Robert Frost,” was the one that made her realize that she was a writer. She has written nearly sixty poems and many pieces in encyclopedias, journals and anthologies. She has published both fiction and nonfiction; “Critical Companion to Robert Frost” was a reference piece, and her second book was “Have Love,” a collection of poetry. Her upcoming book is “The Grief Eater,” a collection of short stories.

The stories in “The Grief Eater” concern grieving people and how their behaviors can change throughout the process. These stories were previously published individually in various journals, but this collection helps organize them in a way Fagan prefers. The stories are drawn from personal experience. The collection started when Fagan was mourning the loss of everyone in her immediate family at the age of 36. Fagan is looking forward to seeing the book out and in print.

“I am proud of every piece I publish but am particularly proud of the books I have authored,” she said.

Fagan still remembers her first attempt at publishing an academic essay, recalling when she sat in her car outside the post office and cried. An article she later read recommended she send the piece out again the same day, which is a habit she now regularly obeys, after checking it again for improvements.

“Face rejection with renewed hope,” Fagan said. “Get knocked down? Sit there a minute. Let it hurt. Then get back up.”

This advice works for Fagan, and how much she publishes is testament to it.

Ferris offers both a creative writing certificate and minor, and Fagan encourages students who love to write — no matter the major — to believe in their work and always seek ways to be stronger writers.