The English Program’s Homecoming Breakfast took place on Saturday, Oct. 13 in the ARC. The breakfast was attended by current members of the English program faculty and students, and by former alums of the program.
The featured speaker was Valorie Woerdehoff (’82). Woerdehoff has an undergraduate degree from Loras in English Creative Writing, and a graduate degree in Theology, also from Loras. She has worked at Loras for over 30 years in various positions, most recently in the grant writing office.
She has published nearly 300 poems and articles. She has been the recipient of numerous grants, including a grant from the Iowa Arts Council.
Woerdehoff began her talk by saying, “Dr. Koch asked me to share a few strategies that have helped me stay focused on my creative life, while allowing me to raise five children, now enjoying eight grandchildren, having a husband, and a full-time job.” While her passion is writing, she said, “For you it may not be writing; it might be some other expression of yourself.”
About the challenge of balancing work, family, and creative endeavors, she said, “We have so many demands on our time, so many distractions … it’s not easy to keep something alive for a really long time, and it’s something I’ve worked to include in my life, even on the fringes, and sometimes that’s where it’s had to be … but I’ve never given up on it …”
“A key,” she said, “is continuing to learn … I encourage you, as time and life allows, to also keep learning – stay curious. Go pick up a book … I do have to be disciplined. I have to get off my phone just like anybody else; get off Facebook or whatever …”
She had some suggestions about making personal goals a priority. “Lots of folks make lists,” she said, “but (those things) can be accomplished whenever … a key move in making sure those things actually get done is to schedule those things.”
“You can’t just wait for the big chunks of time,” she said. “If you want to accomplish something in life, you’ve got to take advantage of the small chunks of time.”
For people interested in writing, Woerdehoff offered this advice: “It doesn’t have to be perfect … if you’re going to wait for perfection you’ll wait forever … you can always edit.” She added, “The world out there may never give you the credit for what you’re doing … there’s a lot of competition for people’s attention and time … if you write you may stack up loads of rejections… certainly I have; still do, all the time … get over it … keep moving.”
Above all, Woerdehoff told the group, “You must learn to live with hope, and not fear.”