Expressive writing’s purpose is to mimic human thought and make connections with others; it is a pivotal mode of communication, self-expression and critical thinking. Geneseo alumnus Mike Chin ‘05 is now a college professor and published author who credits his time at Geneseo for expanding on these skills and serving as a strong foundation for his literary development.
As a creative writing and English double major, Chin was also heavily involved with The Lamron from the start of his college career.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that being a part of The Lamron was the biggest defining piece of my time at Geneseo,” Chin said. As he took on more responsibility with the paper, The Lamron office became more than just a place to work on articles. Chin did homework, ate meals and created friendships that would go beyond undergrad.
“I found invaluable mentors there in my first two years of college and felt so fortunate to be able to pay forward their guidance when I was the editor-in-chief for the two years to follow.”
Chin loved the experience of working with other talented writers, editors and photographers and found it seriously rewarding to have a tangible product to reflect everyone’s efforts each week.
Being a part of The Lamron also changed the way that Chin wrote.
“I was conscious of advice that writing for a newspaper could be invaluable [to] making my prose less flowery, but rather learning to cut to the bones of a story, and write with clarity,” Chin said. “In the end, I think the most undeniably valuable experience I gained from The Lamron, as a writer, was the sheer practice of consistently putting words down on the page.”
Chin felt he grew dramatically as a writer during his time at Geneseo. He acknowledged professors Rachel Hall, Caroline Woidat and Celia Easton for their encouragement and thoughtful critiques of his writing when he was working on his honors thesis project.
“The intensive feedback, directed reading and push to write critically alongside my creative work were all so beneficial to my learning process,” he said.
Chin says his worldview was redefined during his undergraduate years. This had a great impact on his collection of short stories You Might Forget the Sky was Ever Blue. He did not shy away from utilizing his own personal experiences and obsessions when trying to relate to his readers. Chin wants to compel his readers to consider some important issues that society faces today.
“I was interested in generating a collection of earnest stories with a sense of social consciousness. There are stories that deal with sexual assault, with small town politics and with plenty of other sticky subject matter.”
For example, the opening story, “Prophecy,” pulls on Chin’s experience living in Baltimore. It portrays a schoolteacher trying to juggle between his personal life and classroom amidst the 2016 presidential election.
Chin urges young writers to read and write as much as possible. He also says it’s important to build a life where you can find the time to write and protect that time.
“On one hand, having a writing life never gets easier. Today, I’m a husband, a father and a college English professor. In so many ways, I’m living my dreams,” Chin said. “And yet, I still have to fight most days to carve out time to also be a writer. On the other hand, I’d tell myself that the life of a writer is so rewarding, and so it’s worth staying the course. In reading thousands of books and writing thousands of pages I’ve had the chance to—however vicariously or figuratively—live a lot of extra lives. It’s work worth doing.”