Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Trinity College Bantam Artist of the Week: Liam Doran ‘14

Campbell North ’17

Staff Writer

Candid and kind, Liam Doran ’14 has found a balance between two extremes of Trinity’s curriculum, computer science and creative writing. This unique combination is the product of Doran’s diverse upbringing.

Growing up, Doran had direct exposure to art in his house because his father has a BFA in sculpture and often displayed his work. His father was also a newspaper editor and supported his writing ambitions.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, his mother is a web developer and encouraged him to follow his passion in computer science. Doran’s older brother also played a role in his future pursuits by blazing the trail for him and doing theater in middle school. 

Doran participated in theater throughout high school and even preformed in a show at Trinity. The show, directed by Professor Mitch Polin, Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance, was a four-hour long production entitled “The Chekhov Project.” Doran is also best known on campus as one of the active members of Trinity’s improvisational comedy group, “The Moveable Joints.”

Being a member of the group has helped “keep me sane,” states Doran. With meetings about three to four times a week, the group has performances about once or twice a month.

Doran incorporated this idea of transformation and metamorphosis, which comes naturally in improv, into a novella he recently finished. The novella, “Cold,” focused around one main character and his deterioration from being a good guy who went through a rough patch, to a complete disintegration of any moral fiber. The story starts with the character going through a bad breakup with a woman he is obsessed with and responding to it by deciding to become a sociopath. The character is “not necessarily anyone you want to be friends with,” explains Doran, “but he is very intriguing.”

For Doran, a certain mood needed to be set to be able to write about such a dark topic. “I can write about a character like the one in “Cold,” who is not a good person and is messed up, it’s just hard to get into that zone because obviously I’m not like that and I don’t really know anyone like that,” elaborated Doran. One of the ways he does this is by really thinking about the character and what they would do in certain situations.

Sharing personal work like this does not daunt Doran. Critiques are great, as Doran has come to know through experience, because when you can’t place your finger on what is off in your work, sometimes someone else can articulate it for you. Whenever he is having trouble writing, Doran looks to Kurt Vonnegut’s rules for writing for inspiration.

 Another method Doran employs to help him write is to just start with one sentence and go from there. “A lot of times a story will just come to me by one line or something I hear and then I try to develop it,” he said.  A recent example of this was a kind of modern Bonnie and Clyde story he wrote. “It’s kind of weird to think that we’re so culturally interested in crime,” explained Doran.  With this aspect, he drew people into the story and then turned it on its head by deconstructing the romance of criminal life. For Doran, it’s not about immediately trying to articulate a message through writing; it’s about writing something you’re interested in and then letting meaning speak through that passion.

Doran would love to incorporate some aspects of his passion for computer science into his writing. Eventually he wants to write a short story from inside a computer but has not had a concrete start yet. However, writing science fiction orientated work has proven to be challenging, so instead Doran has decided to do the opposite and incorporate his love of writing into his computer science career. His senior project is a web note-taking app. The idea behind it is to make note taking more efficient and organized. For example, if you’re talking about character development and want to define it; a note branching off of it will be a ‘definition’ note. It will essentially look like a concept map or a very organized brainstorm.

After graduation, Doran has a very general plan for the future. Ideally he would like to move to either New York or San Francisco and work for a start-up and take improvisational classes. “If everything works out,” says Doran, “I plan on being very busy.”

At the end of the day, it all comes back to balance. Sitting on the computer and being able to either creatively write or work on a project for computer science is very important to Doran, who appreciates “being able to work out different parts of the brain.”   This emphasis on balance is good for everyone to remember, especially with finals looming in the distance. So if you’re feelings stressed, take a page out of Doran’s book and remember to try to switch it up.

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