Frostiana Literary Conference Aims to Help Students Build Writing Skills

Workshops led by alumni and students about different types of writing and a keynote presentation by Nathan Scott ’05 marked the first annual Frostiana Literary Conference last Sunday.

Madeleine Lippey ’14 and Jared Newman ’15 founded the conference to foster a community of writers at Andover. The Advisory Board includes Carri Bresnahan ’13, Nolan Crawford ’15, Sina Golkari ’15, Abriana Mayer ’14 and Ashlie Rockwood ’14.

“Because there are so many math and science competitions, a lot of those students get to showcase their work more, to share their accomplishments, whereas students who like writing don’t tend to,” said Bresnahan.

The keynote speaker, Nathan Savin Scott ’05, a regular writer for “Thought Catalog” and other other blogs, spoke about his own experiences as a student at Andover and also in writing.

Scott emphasized the need for resiliency in the writing profession, citing an instance in August 2012 when “Gawker,” a popular gossip website, called one of his “Thought Catalog” essays, “The worst thing that will be written on the internet today.”

“Out of the entire internet, a huge place, filled with millions of things, and I was the worst. And it sucks, but eventually you get over it, and you learn to read the comments with a sense of humor,” Scott said.

“Andover has tough times too,” Scott continued. “Who here has pulled an all-nighter this year? That’s too many hands.” He went on to describe the things he had hated about Andover like the stressful nights and the freezing cold. “Andover’s not perfect, but it is great,” he said.

Scott frequently writes about his experiences at Andover on “Thought Catalog,” but he is best known on campus for his essay, “The Good Old Days,” in which he discusses the false nostalgia many his classmates have for Andover.

“They remembered the Senior spring version of Andover; I remembered the Upper winter version of Andover,” Scott said.

“The bad part about writing that article was that a lot of my friends thought that I was saying ‘Andover sucks,’ but that wasn’t what I was saying. I had two friends that didn’t talk to me for a month because they thought I was ‘besmirching the Academy,’” Scott said.

Scott also co-writes for a movie review blog called “Shouts From the Balcony” with Matthew Brennan ’05, a presenter at Frostiana and a movie critic for “IndieWire.”

In addition to Scott, various alumni currently working in different fields of writing ran workshops on topics ranging from poetry to Spanish literature to character development in fiction.

Joseph Kahn ’67, staff writer for “The Boston Globe,” led a workshop on recent innovations and approaches in modern journalism. Kahn shared his journalistic inspiration and the need for perseverance when reporting difficult stories.

Evan McGarvey ’03 led workshops on both poetry and linguistics, discussing the connections between “thought, language and speech.” At the end, McGarvey even received student requests for him to teach at Andover.

Grace Tully ’15 conducted a workshop about fantasy writing and participated in a panel called “Writing on the Internet.”

“We’re trying to cultivate creativity; we want to see personal growth in writing… and I do a lot of internet-based writing, and I would like a chance to validate that,” Tully said.

Leading a workshop on Spanish literature, Nolan Crawford ’15 spoke about the use of “magical realism” in the work of Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez.

“I’ve always had an interest in magical realism and the writings of Márquez because he’s so renowned not just in the Spanish language literary world, but the literary world in general,” Crawford said.

Kevin Ma ’13 and Bresnahan also led a workshop on novel writing and a question and answer session with Matthew Brennan ‘05, a film critic for “IndieWire.”

In the future, Frostiana hopes to bring students from local schools, such as Andover High or Lawrence High, and other nearby boarding schools to its events, according to Lippey. Frostiana was funded by a grant from the Abbot Academy Association.