Laura Waggle

Laura Waggle, a junior at Ohio University Zanesville, has an essay she wrote for a creative non-fiction class featured in the recent issue of Under the Gum Tree.

Photographer: Christine Shaw

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Zanesville student has class assignment published in magazine

What started out as a class assignment has landed an Ohio University Zanesville student in an independent literary arts micro-magazine.

Laura Waggle, a junior at the Zanesville Campus majoring in middle childhood education, exposed her vulnerable side in an 800-word flash non-fiction piece, "Hiding Behind." Waggle wrote the piece as an assignment for her creative non-fiction class. The class is taught by Lisa Haven, an associate professor of English at Ohio University Zanesville.

Waggle's piece was chosen for publication by Under the Gum Tree, a quarterly magazine focusing on stories of vulnerability told without fear and shame. The issue containing "Hiding Behind" has been digitally released; the print copy will be distributed this month.

For her English class, Waggle's assignment was to choose a photo that evoked emotion and then write about the subtleties and hidden messages in the photo. The inspiration behind her written words was a photo taken when she was 100 pounds overweight and self-conscious of being photographed. Her 2-year-old daughter was having professional photos taken and wanted a photo with her mother. In that photo, Waggle said she was smiling on the outside but not in her heart.

"As women, we find ourselves identifying ourselves through our appearance, rather than what is on the inside," Waggle explained.

As a creative non-fiction instructor, Haven said she tries to inspire all of her students to continue writing creatively and believes encouraging her students to publish their work builds their confidence.

"Laura's piece encapsulated a moment in her life that many of us can relate to. (Her article) is superbly written and deeply confessional," said Haven.

Waggle was a high school dropout who came from an alcoholic home. By the age of 17, she was married and had two children. Her second son is autistic and developmentally disabled. She said she has spent most of her life pouring herself into her kids and helping them to live their best life, so having her writing picked up and recognized by a publication is quite an achievement.

"It doesn't matter where you once were, but where you chose to be today," said Waggle.

Waggle continues to research different avenues through which to publish her work. In addition to being a full-time student, she tutors through the Zanesville Campus Student Success Center and serves as the associate editor for the Zanesville Campus literary journal, Zane Traces.