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Award-winning author shares insights as speaker at Upstate Symposium

Sydney Lykins
Ron Rash was the keynote speaker at the Upstate Symposium event.

On April 4, author and Clemson alumnus Ron Rash spoke at the Upstate Symposium at the Barnes Center, sharing his insights into the influence of the upstate region on his literary works.

The symposium, which featured a series of speakers and group discussions, analyzed the profound ways in which Clemson’s geographic location shapes both research and experience.

Due to his deep-rooted connection to the region and his ability to weave its essence into his storytelling, Rash served as the keynote speaker.

Renowned for his novels, including “One Foot in Eden,” “Saints at the River” and “Serena,” which was later made into a film starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, Rash’s work displays his profound understanding of the human condition as intertwined with the landscapes of the upstate region.

During his talk, Rash pinpointed the themes and influence of the upstate environment in shaping his literary artistry. He highlighted the symbiotic relationship between the region’s location, its inhabitants and the timeless narratives that emerge from this work by sharing several examples from his novels.

When asked what inspired him to become a writer, Rash expressed that he always loved to read growing up and decided to take up writing in high school. When he attended Clemson for his master’s, Rash started to take his writing more seriously.

“Several teachers in the English department really encouraged me, and I really got serious about it when I was about 25,” Rash explained. He stated that he has been writing every day since then.

Rash also told the audience about some specific routines and habits he has when it comes to his writing. He explained that he believes in rituals a lot and is “unhealthily obsessed” with his writing routine.

The author was an athlete and ran track in college, so routines have always been a key component of his lifestyle. Rash has been doing the same routine for about 40 years now. “I do an hour of exercise, then I get 44 ounces of unsweet tea, I get my pencils and a pad and I start.”

Rash mentioned that his pencils and papers must be in a specific place when he starts his writing process, and he enjoys writing in a place with minimal distractions to aid in “sticking to the page.”

He shared that he will sit down and wait at least 30 minutes with no distractions, and after about 10 to 20 minutes, ideas start to flow. Rash explained that in the end, “Showing up and being ready” is what helps in his writing routine.

Make sure to check out some of Rash’s award-winning work.

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