Sara Kibbler: Curiosity Is Key
For Sara Kibbler, an unexplored world is a missed opportunity. Her penchant for exploring new worlds has taken her from fictional lands in books to a Youth Write Circle group, and even to the place she least expected, the Fredonia Technology Incubator. It would take pages to describe accurately her many accomplishments as an English major and creative writing minor, but her focus on originality, as well as her ceaseless curiosity about how great books get written, are what define Sara’s experience as an English major.
Sara arrived at Fredonia in fall 2016, drawn by the creative writing minor along with the English major. A transfer student aspiring to be a writer, she saw the appeal of combining the two fields. “In order to be a great writer, you have to be a great reader,” she says. Now, she studies how authors “do what they do” through classes such as Senior Seminar, her personal favorite, where she has immersed herself in information regarding women’s suffrage in literature.
Sara’s studies are helping her develop techniques to help her stand out in as competitive a field as creative writing. She has refined her ability to appeal to particular audiences, regardless of their background in literature. “Whatever genre you write in, it’s important to know your audience and adapt your style to them,” Sara says.
It’s this focus on knowing and writing to her audience that had an unexpected outcome for Sara, and led to one of her greatest sources of pride as a Fredonia student: last spring, she was picked as a finalist for the Fredonia Technology Incubator’s Student Business Competition.
“The Incubator competition allowed me to challenge myself, present my idea coherently and consider my idea from a business standpoint,” she says. “My major, I think, helped me because persuasive language is important to transition from idea to implementation.”
Unsurprisingly, her idea for the competition involved creative writing. She decided to produce a blank template for a comic book—that is, a book with empty speech bubbles and basic images so children can write in the action themselves. Sara’s idea could be used not only as a creative tool, encouraging kids to use their imaginations and come up with their own plots, but also as a therapeutic tool for children who typically dislike reading and writing.
For those hoping to see Sara’s comic books in mass production one day, good news: her plans with her Incubator idea are nowhere near concluded. “I received such positive feedback that I plan to look back into my product after graduation to see if I can take it to the next level and actually produce it,” she says.
In the meanwhile, Sara is volunteering with the Youth Write Circle at the Sinclairville Free Library, where she encourages children to read and enjoy the complexity of storytelling and where she first came up with the idea for the comic books. What is her favorite part about volunteering with Youth Write Circle? “The children will always blow away your expectations!” she says. She is always looking for ways to involve herself in her community, especially if, as with the Incubator, it connects to one of her main educational goals: to hone her creative and professional writing technique.
Of course, Sara also loves taking a much-needed breather by spending time with her cats, exploring Western New York, and hanging out with her many nieces and nephews. The next time you see Sara in the hall, also take a second to notice—and envy—her Batman and Wonder Woman-covered bag, which she sewed herself.
Most of the time, however, Sara can usually be found with a book in one hand and a pen in the other, in her true natural habitat. “I write just about everything at this point: novels, short stories, and children's picture books. Each has its own set of challenges which helps me become stronger as a writer,” she says. Sara’s curiosity extends beyond the writing world as well. “Getting into publishing would be an absolute dream, but I wouldn't be disappointed to use my degree for something equally meaningful, like advocating for community projects.”
As graduation approaches, her motto to “know one’s audience” has never been more relevant. “Some day, when I send out query letters to picture book, short story, or novel publishers, I will want to convince them that my story is engaging and worth publishing,” she says.
Sara firmly believes in her advice for future English students: “Most English majors are prone to perfectionism,” she says. “Everything is a learning process, and figuring out when to say ‘I can do no more’ is an important part of that process. Otherwise, we will continue to look backwards on our mistakes instead of focusing on moving forward.”
For more information about Sara’s idea for the Fredonia Technology Incubator, or for information about the Youth Write Circle, you can e-mail Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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