Creative writing professor talks about his passion at Writing Now, Reading Now


Author Jason Allen signs a book for an attendee at Writing Now, Reading Now at the Ulrich Museum of Art on Sept. 14.

Battling addiction, poverty and the regular struggles of high school students, Jason Allen was able to overcome these and turn them into a work of writing he’s able to be proud of.

Jason Allen, a creative writing professor, was Thursday’s guest speaker at ‘Writing Now, Reading Now’ hosted by Wichita State’s Creative Writing Department at the Ulrich Museum of Art. 

Allen read excerpts from his most recent fiction novel, ‘The East End,’ and from his in-progress memoir. His new memoir touches on his struggles of growing up poor and how his addiction disrupted his educational journey.

“I did really well in school up until high school,” Allen said. “I wasn’t at all ready to go to college because I was falling very deep into alcoholism.”

After high school, Allen waited until he was 29 to start his college career and went full steam ahead. Allen now has a PhD in creative writing. 

Allen’s inspiration to write stemmed from his love of reading as a kid, but it wasn’t until 2014 that he started to publish his work. Like he enjoys the art of writing, he also enjoys speaking with others about it.

“It’s super fun to talk about,” Allen said. “You can come at it from all different angles.

One thing Allen enjoys about writing is his ability to develop themes without much prior planning. He was able to exercise this in his favorite piece of writing so far, ‘The East End.’

“I was able to really think about where I’m from and the people that I knew there,” Allen said. “But I could make up a lot of details because it’s fiction.”

Allen’s advice to aspiring young writers is to sit down and write as often as you can. 

“Really make that a habit,” Allen said. “The more you practice anything (like a sport), the better you’ll start to get some of those skills.”

Allen said that he is really happy to be teaching at Wichita State. 

“I’ve lived all over the country,” Allen said. “I never imagined being in Kansas at all … but I really like the way it feels to be in Wichita. Everyone has been so nice and welcoming.”