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Intern Emily blogs the power of the visual over writing and her first-ever author event.

As I leave my Creative Writing class having just written two scenes based on photos, I can’t help but think I was meant to write this entry. Photography has always been a great interest of mine, and over the past few years I have found that it gracefully intertwines with writing. An entire story can come from one scene captured during one moment. Some of my best work (in my opinion) has been sparked by a photo. After attending my first ever author event on October 23, I learned that I’m certainly not alone.

Author David Rowell recently came out with his first novel, The Train of Small Mercies. It highlights the funeral train of Senator Robert Kennedy from the perspectives of several people along its path. After Mr. Rowell informed us that he was only two years old during this event in history, many of us wondered what inspired him to write about such a topic. The answer came largely from photographs. Mr. Rowell explained that he came across a book entitled RFK Funeral Train, a collection of pictures by photographer Paul Fusco. These photos were taken in 1968 from the windows of the funeral train as it journeyed from New York to Washington, D.C. Mr. Rowell explained that the photographs of the thousands of people lined along the train tracks really spoke to him and he believed that each individual told their own story. And thus the idea of his novel was born.

Photography is capable of telling a story without words. When words are added, they can become even more powerful. David Rowell does a wonderful job of developing a vivid story from a series of pictures. I highly recommend The Train of Small Mercies as a quick yet powerful read. I also recommend you try picking up a photo and a pen and start writing.

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