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Paul Harding discusses the secrets of writing professionally

By Scott Calzolaio

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and musician Paul Harding came to campus on Tuesday, November 11, to read a passage from each of his two novels, “Tinkers” and “Enon,” and one passage from an unpublished short story. After the reading, Harding held a book signing.

“It was great to see Paul Harding come to FSU,” said senior English major Tom Grant. “Since he won the Pulitzer for his novel ‘Tinkers,’ it was especially fascinating to hear his thought processes when it comes to writing. It feels good to see a writer in the Mesh and interact with him.”

Harding is a local writer, having grown up on the North Shore of Boston in the town of Wenham, Mass. He also received his B.A. in English at UMass Amherst, and later taught writing at Harvard. He published his debut novel “Tinkers” in 2009, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2010. His second novel “Enon” was published in 2013.

“Paul Harding uses language beautifully to transport his readers,” said English professor Claudia Springer. “The emotionally resonant passages he read reminded his FSU audience of the power of well-chosen words.”

The Q-and-A session following the readings allowed students to interact directly with the author, and address themes and symbols that arise in the novels. The meaning of the novel’s titles and the use of first person narration were discussed openly. Students found his willingness to discuss his own writing process to be helpful and inspiring.

“I found his insight into the writing process really helpful, and his humor showed that he was really down to earth and honest,” said Nora Chan, a junior English major. “His writing is incredibly poetic and powerful. I think that his presence on campus was great because he was willing to answer so many question about himself and his writing. I loved listening to his readings.”

Senior English major Colin Brooks said, “It was cool having him come talk about his book, his work and his process. It let us as students and as future writers get a chance to sit down with someone and ask questions we all want to know the answers to. He was a really down-to-earth guy, but had an immense amount of knowledge about his craft and had time to thoughtfully engage with us all.”

Senior English major James Lindsey said, “After reading ‘Tinkers’ for my English seminar, it was cool to see Paul Harding in person. He struck me as quite a funny and thoughtful individual, and his answers to the audience’s questions were very intriguing to me.”


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