Story by Anna Novikova '13
Erik Hane knew what he was looking for when he decided to transfer
after his first year of college.
“I determined that I wanted to get a degree in something more focused in fiction,” Hane says.
Outside the classroom, Hane has excelled as an athlete at Knox. He played the #1 position for men’s tennis all three years and served as captain his junior and senior years. He has been honored numerous times as Knox’s Prairie Fire Performer of the Week and was elected Most Valuable Player by his teammates his sophomore and junior years.
“I was looking for a place I could continue with athletics,” Hane says. And Knox provided the opportunity to step into a leadership role during a period of transition for the tennis program.
“We’ve improved a lot,” Hane says. “It’s nice to be at the forefront of an overhaul of the program.”
“I did some research, and Knox kept popping up -- it kept being at the top of any list [of creative writing
He applied to Knox, visited, and enrolled at the beginning of his sophomore year. The key selling point? Knox’s Honors program
“One of my goals has always been to write a book before I got out of college,” Hane says. And an Honors project gave him the rigorous environment, support, and flexibility to pursue a project of such magnitude.
Three years later, Hane’s goal is within reach. The book, People Things
, is a collection of 12 short stories -- approximately 180 pages -- that takes a second look at the mundane.
“So much of fiction is based on that 1 percent, the one event that changed everything, but we as people spend so much time doing routine things,” Hane says. “[The book] is focused on finding something meaningful in the time we spend just getting through. There’s a lot of chores in this work -- mowing lawns, doing dishes, things you don't want to do.”
Hane finished most of his first drafts during fall term and is now transitioning to editing -- a delicate process of polishing the stories while seeking to preserve their authenticity.
“One of the things I’m exploring is how the writing changes over time,” Hane says. “It’s not so much that the later ones are getting better; it’s that they’re getting different. There’s something profound in the way [the stories] exist in their moment of writing ... I’m not going to sacrifice their essential voice.”
The editing process has had Hane working much more closely with his Honors committee, meeting weekly with each professor to go over a particular story. He incorporates his own critiques and his committee’s feedback, particularly from Professor Cyn Kitchen
, who he credits, along with other faculty, for supporting and preparing him for his Honors project. He also credits his literature and writing classes with helping him develop his narrative voice and writer’s mind.
Hane plans to submit his book for publication and into ‘first book’ contests, but for him, the most important aspect of the project is the process of writing. “It feels pretty cool to be in it and doing that thing you always wanted to do,” he says. “[Honors] is taking all the things I’ve figured out -- taking all the tools -- and putting them to use.”
Hane shares how his Greek minor has complemented his creative writing work:
"It's a language that more than any other, except Latin, has influenced English. [Studying Greek] gives you a much higher understanding of all language, and especially the English language. It's certainly helped my writing."
"Many of these works need to be read in their original language to really be appreciated. The best Greek words are the ones that have paragraphs of definition because there's just no good English translation. Logos can mean word, language, reason, speech -- all these things depending on the context. [The word] is just so crucial to have any discussion of languages."
"To me, liberal arts means synthesis -- another Greek word, by the way -- it means combining lots of different things and putting them to use in a singular way. It's figuring out how studying Greek can affect your writing in English ... All these fields we have are different tools at getting at truth, and liberal arts, to me, suggests it's multifaceted ... you don't have to pick just one."
Read more about our Greek minor and Classics program