During his time at Geneva College, senior writing major Daniel Dydek has learned much about himself and his field, and has even had the opportunity to submit a manuscript to the president of JABerwocky Literary Agency.
From a young age, Daniel wanted to be a soldier. So when he graduated high school, he joined the U.S. Army as a Canon Crew Member assigned to the 101st Airborne in Kentucky. While in the military, he was on active duty in Iraq from October 2005 until September 2006. Daniel completed his service upon returning from Iraq, and prepared to move along to the next chapter of his life—furthering his education.
Daniel began attending classes at the Community College of Beaver County (CCBC), and his classes were very liberal-arts focused, including humanities, history and writing. He used this time to help decide what direction he wanted to take his life. He wanted to either earn a business degree and open his own bicycle shop or pursue his love of writing. Eventually, his passion for the written word won out.
Next, he had to decide on an institution, and his choices narrowed to the University of Pittsburgh and Geneva College. Daniel chose Geneva, both because the school is Christ-centered and because it provides the high quality of education he was looking for: “When I examined Geneva's writing program, I was impressed with it.”
One of Daniel’s favorite features of Geneva is the sense of community—especially through weekly chapel. He likes to sing the Psalms, finds the speakers to be very thought provoking and greatly appreciates the opportunity for the campus to gather in one place to praise the Lord.
Daniel also appreciates the educational opportunities found here, and says that the professors have had a positive impact on his writing. Dr. Mark Haas' class on rhetoric was immensely influential to his focus and overall organization. In retrospect, he sees that his writing style was haphazard before he took this class.
Dr. Scott Shidemantle, Dr. Suhail Hanna and Dr. Shirley Kilpatrick have also helped him with his educational journey through their support and enthusiasm. “Dr. Kilpatrick was fun to be around,” says Daniel. “Her enthusiasm is endless, which is very difficult to find in professors. A student can answer a question almost any way and she will find the interesting and thought-provoking within it.”
Last year, Daniel got to work exclusively with Dr. Hanna in an independent study that assisted him in his publishing journey. The purpose of this study was to assemble a contact list of literary agents and eventually move along to contacting them.
A significant catalyst to his adventure in the publishing world came from an opportunity provided by the college's Career Development Center through the Geneva College Student-Alumni Connection Program, which introduces students to a helpful alumni mentor and resources. The program connected Daniel with Kevin Robinson, an alumnus living in the Florida Keys who has published several novels in the series of Stick Foster mysteries, as well as many short stories and articles. Robinson worked with Daniel on his manuscript and eventually passed him along to Joshua Bilmes, a literary agent who has represented Brandon Sommerson, Elizabeth Moon and other well known authors. Although Bilmes ultimately passed on the first manuscript, Daniel says he learned a great deal through the process and appreciated working with a high-caliber agent. He is reworking his novel and finding guidance from the blog series “Wordplay: Helping Writers Become Authors” by novelist K.M. Weiland. “This blog helped me discover the problems with my work and reevaluate,” says Daniel. “She uncovers a formula that all classic novels and best-sellers follow and have followed.”
When asked what advice he would give to young writers out there, he says, “As the most important thing, never be easily satisfied with anything. Not just your writing, but answers people give you and answers to life you get. And then, spend some time figuring out why you write. Just in general, why you enjoy it. Ask yourself why you're writing the things you write. Why do you pick the subjects you do? Ask yourself if it is important? And make sure you're ok with your answers,” says Daniel.
In addition to working on his novel, Daniel published an anthology of short stories, If They Keep Silent, which can be found here.
- Benjamin S. Butler '14