At the beginning of the story, a man rushes outside on a cold, rainy night. It’s not until the end of the story that readers realize the man has no legs and is in a wheelchair.
The story called “Night Run,” by junior English major Heather Woodhouse, won the Carlotta and Alvin Ewing English Award — the second year in a row that Woodhouse has won the award.
The competition includes poetry, prose, short stories, and more and typically receives anywhere from 25 to several dozen entries, though it is only open to female English majors. Assistant Professor of English Kelly Franklin said one of the judges on the panel, the entries are judged on aesthetic mastery and depth of content, message, and insight as well as originality and creativity.
“There is an element of the unexpected,” Associate Professor of English Lorraine Murphy said. “She has a way of slowly revealing layers of meaning so that it’s all just not right there in the surface. You think you know where you’re going, then you realize there’s a lot more going on than you have realized.”
Woodhouse submitted “Night Run” this year, but she wrote the story several years ago, after taking a run herself. Last year, her winning story “Pulitzer” depicted a ballerina that fell of the stage and was inspired by imaginary cover art.
“I think I get my inspiration from little details of things,” Woodhouse said. “One time, I wrote a story about a newt just because that was a cool idea. One time, I saw a chair sitting in a lake and I was like ‘that’s cool,’ and I wrote a story.”
She said she will put her $500 prize to her time studying at Oxford University this summer, where she will also work under a creative writing tutor.
“At Hillsdale, it’s a little tricky that we don’t have anyone on the faculty who regularly teaches a creative writing course or who regularly publishes poetry and fiction,” Professor of English John Somerville said. “It’s helpful to have someone someone like that as a mentor.”
Woodhouse said it’s challenging to work on creative writing during the school year, but she said she tries to write every day over the summer. She’s been writing creatively since she was a child and said she plans to continue writing after graduation even if not as a full time career.
“A lot of people say that the best part of writing is when you’re done with the story,” Woodhouse said. “I enjoy the process of writing the story also because you can just tell when you’re creating something worthwhile.”