Author Archives: Emily Pierce


The Knight chapter came as a nice review of what we discussed in class before the break, although with a different context. I was reminded of why we don’t use anything but “said” for attributions, and learned the few cases where it’s okay. I realize I often mention being an English major and a writing tutor in these, but those use some of the same skills that this class needs: clear, honest communication. It was a good little refresher.

The Filak chapter, on the other hand. I am tired of being told the importance of critical thinking skills. I grew up in the gifted program, so critical thinking skills have been shoved into my skull since first grade. I am well aware of them, thank you very much. I can discern what is and isn’t helpful for a story, what to put in or take out that creates the best picture for the reader. I understand the importance and everyone’s education differs. There are things some people weren’t taught that you were, and it’s important to meet the needs of all students. But critical thinking is as easy as breathing for me, and it’s been put on a pedestal my whole life and I’m tired.


Tackling Teaching

From private investigator to librarian and published author, Xhenet Aliu now returns to teaching.

“It had always been something that I wanted to get back to,” said Aliu, a librarian on Piedmo

nt’s Athens campus, “but the timing had to be right, and all the stars had to align, which they did this past year.”

Aliu began teaching her first course since graduate school this January. It is a fiction workshop course, which means students’ creative writing is read and critiqued by the other students in the class, not just Aliu. After the success of her critically-acclaimed novel Brass last year, Aliu was asked by Piedmont’s administration if she would be interesting in teaching. The answer was obvious.

“I taught creative writing when I was in grad school, and I taught at conferences and things like that, and I had been wanting to get back into teaching, so, you know, it worked out,” Aliu said.

After graduate school, Aliu struggled to find a job with an English degree, and eventually became a private investigator in New York. She said the firm mostly investigated hedge fund managers and other financial types.

“I really learned how to do research. We had to do a lot of database research in particular, but I didn’t like the things I was researching for this job because I had no interest in the financial world… So, I started looking into library schools,” Aliu said.

Aliu waited until she found a fully-funded program, and eventually got her librarian degree from the University of Alabama in 2013. By this time, she was living in Athens and still working for the private investigation firm. Two years later, a librarian job opened up at Piedmont on the Athens campus. Now she juggles her library responsibilities with teaching.

“It’s been good. I mean, I don’t know anybody who’s like I have time to get everything I want done in my life done, so I don’t have any unique complaints,” Aliu said, “It’s busy. I’m only teaching one class, but I’m also still working full-time at the library, and I also teach classes at the Y and I’m also trying to write.”

Sophomore English major Hadley Cottingham signed up for Aliu’s course to work on her creative writing concentration, not realizing it was a workshop course. However, Cottingham said she has already learned a lot the past two months.

“I love Xhenet’s class. I look forward to every class period, and it’s a class where the work never feels like work,” Cottingham said. “She’s an amazing professor. She has great advice for writers, and she knows what she’s talking about.”

Aliu will be teaching more courses at Piedmont in the future. She talked about a new introduction to creative writing course that she is going to teach.

“There wasn’t a kind of class that you could take that gave you a sample of all of them so that you can figure out which of the genres you’re kinda most interested in pursuing,” Aliu said. “It’ll be fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. That’s also useful because there’s a lot of the craft of each that is helpful for the other genres.”

Cottingham had nothing but enthusiasm discussing Aliu’s current course. When asked if she would take another one of Aliu’s courses, the answer was a resounding “yes.”

“I would absolutely take another creative writing class if she has one. I love getting feedback and learning things I can use in my writing,” Cottingham said. “I have so much inspiration and creative energy again, and this class is a huge reason why.”

Zoe Hunter Profile Story

Changing majors in college is common as students decide on career paths. Changing majors to hone in on a career chosen before college is less common. However, one Piedmont College student has done just that.

“I knew I wanted to be a travel photographer before I got here, but I wasn’t sure how to do it,” Zoe Hunter, a freshman art and mass communications double major, said.

Although Hunter thought about pursuing a culinary degree, she said she always wanted cameras growing up and liked traveling. Hunter also cited being a visual learning and having a curious nature.

“Last summer, everything kinda clicked. I realized it was a passion of mine,” Hunter said. “I really just want to travel all over and discover the world.”

Hunter started at Piedmont this past fall as a business and art double major, but found that business wasn’t working for her. Then she learned about the photojournalism aspect of Piedmont’s mass communications program, and decided to change her major.

As to whether or not it will stick, Hunter seems pretty sure of the major change. “I ain’t going back to business.”


The gist of both of these chapters concerned what makes a good lede. It should be short and to the point while also grabbing the readers’ attention and setting up the story. As an English major used to nearly useless introductory paragraphs that could really just be the thesis, this is very appealing. A good lede is no nonsense and keeps people interested and informed, something much of academic writing lacks.

However, I’m used to writing how I was trained to write, so I’m a bit nervous about our first story coming up. I’ve struggled when a professor has told me not to worry about an introductory paragraph and just start writing. I know I will refer back to both books to polish up and edit my story before turning it in. The examples given in both texts were especially helpful. It’ll be important to keep in mind while setting up my first lede.


Being who I am, I’ve noticed in the syllabus that we have our first article, a profile story, coming up soon. The fact that this week’s reading centered on interviewing and on writing a personality profile confirmed this, and as I read I thought about who I might interview.

I am an English major. I have not conducted an interview since a middle-school project that involved interviewing a war vet that we knew. I have presented at conferences, led discussions, and taught classes before, though, which means I know how to talk to people and to listen, key elements of an interview. However, while reading I remembered being interviewed for class or the Roar by friends who are Mass Comm majors and/or writers for the Roar. The kind of questions they asked were the kinds of questions suggested to ask by both Knight and Filak– opened-ended, specific questions. Asking for their advice or about their experience interviewing, which I plan on doing, will give me a Piedmont-specific context for conducting interviews and creating questions. This will add to what I’ve learned from the readings, especially since they’ve done the types of stories we’re assigned in this class. I’m looking forward to it.

RR2- This would’ve been helpful for the grammar quiz

I read these two chapters after my second attempt on the grammar quiz, and had I known how helpful they are, I would have used them as a resource while taking the quiz. I struggle with “that” and “which,” “who” and “whom,” and active versus passive voice. Knight’s notes on clear, concise writing and on avoiding wordiness were a helpful reminder. The more grammar-focused sections, coming after my grammar quiz, had me wishing I’d done better.

I appreciated the examples Knight gave the most. Their variety and explanations gave me a better sense of the usage for these words that I often mess up. It will come in handy as a writing tutor as well; it’s easier to point out that a word or phrase is wrong than it is to explain why. I get a lot of questions about active and passive voice in particular, and Knight’s examples have me a better understanding of how to spot the difference and when it’s okay to use passive voice.

Reading Response 1

While many people believe that writing for English courses is about throwing as many words on the page as possible to meet a requirement, good writing, good papers, are not. In this chapter, I found many of the same lessons I’ve learned as an English major: if you can say it in less words, do so, but pick your words carefully. Don’t just be concise, but precise. Dr. O’Keefe’s mantra of “words make sound” was also here as Knight discussed the English language.

This chapter was part refresher and part new information. The information I’d heard before was delivered in a different way, showing me a new side of it and a new way to use it, two things which are why I wanted to take this class. I know how to write, but I don’t know this kind of writing. The new information was given in the same way Knight says to write: direct, simple, and telling the reader what they need to know next.

It also served as a reminder to be more conscious as I write, something that is important no matter the kind of writing. I hope to keep remembering this as I write for this class and others.