Publishing the Past: Robyn Holley’s Story in Buried Within

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A student-published book makes way

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, haunting can be described as an ethereal beauty, yet one that is unforgettable and melancholy. For lack of better words, haunting is the idea that the past stays with you. It is inescapable. For Pacific University student Robyn Holley, this is something she knows all too well.

   Last semester, Holley wrote a story to add to her class’s publication, Buried Within: A Haunting Anthology. The publication features an amalgamation of 20+ haunting stories written by other students in her class, all working together to create it. Holley noted that it was challenging to begin writing due to struggling with writer’s block. Her story is non-fiction as she wanted to challenge herself to reflect on some of the darker parts of her life, namely depression from her childhood. 

   Speaking with Professor Kochendorfer gave Holley the confidence to write her story. “She made me realize that it doesn’t need to be perfect. Free write and let the words come. It’s scary for some people, especially if they know that their story is good to get started, but you just have to take a risk.” 

   Holley’s exposition is about what the woods taught her and how she ended up leaving the East and moving West. Much of the story focuses on her neighbors in her hometown of Lyndeborough, New Hampshire. The story also focuses on her battle with childhood depression and leading a life of isolation.

   The story is profoundly emotional, and it took courage to write. However, the writing process did not grant Holley much peace of mind or closure. When asked about it, she answered, “It was very stressful writing. I think other people in the class felt a similar way because we were missing deadlines left and right. It was very difficult to open ourselves up in that way when we knew this was being published and expose ourselves to potential criticism from the whole world.” 

   But through the ups and downs, Kochendorfer was there to help. Many students, including Holley, were afraid they would not be able to turn in their final draft. Holley remarked, “[Kochendorfer] talked me off a ledge and told me it was going to be okay.”

   The final publication of the book was a success. With a beaming smile on her face, Holley spoke about how this small part of her life story will live on after her time has passed. Holley says, “I don’t even know how to describe that feeling when it was finally published; it was just such a profound and wonderful moment.” 

   Released just a week ago, those interested in buying the book and hearing Robyn Holley’s story for themselves can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and various other vendors, along with the haunting and bone-shackling stories of other outstanding Pacific writers.


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