On March 26, Tom Junod and Charles McNair made their appearance on Mercer University’s Macon campus to talk about writing, share their struggles and success stories and to introduce a technique of blending fact and fiction in writing.
Hosted by the Center for Collaborative Journalism, the event was open to all Mercer students and the Macon community.
Junod, a writer for Esquire Magazine and winner of several awards, has written journalism pieces that involve aspects of fiction in order to, according to Junod, enhance the truth about the characters presented. While Junod advocates the incorporation of fiction into pieces that were previously regarded as a strict nonfiction outlet, he does not stray away from the truth. He said, “Because the power of stories is so great, you have to get it right because the damage can be so great.”
As a fiction writer, McNair has published two books and is currently working on a third. He additionally serves as Books Editor for Paste magazine. McNair also believes in multiple uses of fiction and said, “We use fiction to explain things that can’t be explained.”
The title of the event, “The Truth is in the Telling,” was reflected in the views, anecdotes, and concepts presented by both Junod and McNair. McNair stated the main concept of the event: “If you want the truth, read fiction.”
Tim Regan-Porter, the first director of Mercer’s Center for Collaborative Journalism, directed and coordinated the speakers’ appearances. He said, “I really wanted to bring some of the best writers around to share their wisdom and just be inspiration for students and writers in the city.”
In order to advertise to such a large audience from both the Mercer and Macon community, the event was directed by the CCJ’s Regan-Porter. As a founder of Paste Media Group, Regan-Porter said, “I’ve known Charles for about 10 years now as a great guy and a great writer,” as McNair is the books editor for Paste Magazine.
“Tom is an icon to writers everywhere,” said Regan-Porter. He continued and said that as an Atlanta native, he is especially important in Atlanta and the state of Georgia. After separate contacting and planning, “they decided to do something together,” said Regan-Porter.
The reason behind inviting writers Junod and McNair, said Regan-Porter, was that CCJ students, other Mercer students, and the Macon community has an opportunity, “to hear good writers, their tips and their struggles [which] is always enlightening and entertaining.” He continued and said, “I really just wanted to bring some of the best writers around to campus to share their wisdom and be an inspiration to students and to writers in the city.”
“I hope it is valuable to the community in general, both at Mercer and in Macon,” said Regan-Porter at the conclusion of the event. He continued and said, “It’s good affirmation that it’s hard to write, anybody who writes probably struggles with the same issues.”
The discovery of truth, subjective and objective writing, and even a satirical song mark the writers’ presence on Mercer’s campus. While closing, Junod said, “Some of our greatest stories are fictional stories. The shelf life of fiction lasts a lot longer than nonfiction because, somehow, made up stories get to the truths that stories of fact cannot.”