By Morgan Jackson, Assistant Arts Editor
The Inklings at Oklahoma Baptist University are a group of readers and writers committed to discussing and producing creative stories.
“The Inklings, originally, was a group of scholars, writers, and friends in Oxford, England, who gathered to discuss literature and share their own fiction writing,” assistant professor of English and founder of the OBU Inklings Dr. Lindsey Panxhi said. “The most famous members of the Inklings group were J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. The Inklings here in Shawnee is named after the original Inklings gathering.”
The literature the group discusses is typically fantasy, science fiction and speculative fiction. Panxhi formed the group in 2016.
“I heard about a lot of English and Creative Writing majors at OBU who enjoyed Tolkien, Lewis and fantasy,” Panxhi said. “I had been part of an Inklings group while completing my doctorate at the University of Arkansas, so I decided to begin a group here in Shawnee as well. There were lots of enthusiastic participants from the first meeting onwards, and we’ve been meeting ever since.”
Current OBU students, recent graduates, and interested faculty are encouraged to attend meetings.
“The group is informal, and not even limited to just OBU students,” Panxhi said.“Several former OBU students who are now alumni living in Oklahoma City and Tulsa actually drive over to join in the meetings. Also, any faculty who share a love for the writings of the Inklings are welcome to join as well. For example, Dr. Jessica Rohr is an active participant in, and co-leader of Inklings.”
At each of the writing-focused meetings, members of the group benefit from the feedback of other writers with similar interests.
“Each participant reads their work aloud at the meeting, and then we discuss their writing: what we like, what needs improvement, and what questions the story raises,” Panxhi said. “For those of us who have hopes of publishing one day, it is immensely helpful to get feedback on our ideas, encouragement over storylines, and accountability to keep writing even in the midst of busy schedules.”
The Inklings also meet monthly to discuss a high fantasy or science fiction novel of the group’s choosing.
“We discuss not only the writer’s prominent literary themes and their skills as a writer and worldbuilder, but also how their ideas relate to Christian faith and practice,” Panxhi said.
The OBU Inklings give warm welcome to new writers and ideas. Some student members feel that the group is very important to their success as writers.
“I used to hate sharing my stories because I’ve always kept them to myself, and had never shared them, but getting feedback and being able to hear other people’s stories made it less daunting,” senior English major and Inkling Chloe Harrison said. “Inklings has been a very big motivator for me. It’s been pushing me to actually write.”
Students say that Inklings have helped spur their creativity, and the group gives them encouragement.
“Sharing my work and getting feedback is extremely important. Inklings is a place where we do just that,” said Josiah Jones, a Creative Writing and Psychology double major. “Bouncing off of other people’s creativity, especially in a shared area of expertise like writing, is also really inspiring and motivating,” said Jones.
OBU’s Inklings uses its focus on writing to glorify God.
“We exist to glorify God through our fellowship, our discussions, and our writing,” Panxhi said. “God is an Author, too, and we take delight in reading, discussing and producing stories that [glorify him].”