By Graham Duncan
Since his graduation from Lander University in 2015, Robert Maynor has made a point to keep in touch with his former professor, Dr. Andy Jameson, who teaches literature and creative writing courses for Lander’s Department of English and Foreign Languages.
The pair regularly swap reading lists, chat about college football, and exchange early drafts of stories they’re working on for feedback. When Maynor shared that his first novel, “The Big Game Is Every Night,” had been selected for publication by the South Carolina Arts Commission and Hub City Press, Jameson said that news came as no surprise to him.
“The thing about Robby is that he always had material,” Jameson said. “Sometimes it takes a while as a writer to figure out what your material is, but Robby regularly had material.”
Maynor believes one of the most important lessons he learned at Lander was where to go looking for the material that was uniquely his own. “I was already writing when I came to Lander,” he said, “but I was mostly writing the stories I thought I was ‘supposed’ to write.” As an English major, he found his voice and explored new ways to put his own ideas down on paper, rather than someone else’s. And as a member of the Honors College, he took courses in a wide range of topics, including travel writing, logic and rhetoric. He still uses the principles he learned from these courses, both as a professional writer and in his work as a conservationist.
“My time at Lander helped me to understand myself and my community in new ways, and empowered me to write about the people and places and ideas that I am keenly familiar with and passionate about,” he said.
Maynor’s first novel, “The Big Game Is Every Night,” showcases that keen understanding of self he developed while studying at Lander. It’s a coming-of-age story set in South Carolina’s Lowcountry that follows Grady Hayes, a high school student and a promising football player who slips into a state of loneliness and depression following a devastating leg injury. The book will be published in the fall of 2023 by Hub City Press, and will be available for purchase wherever books are sold.
Short stories by Maynor have appeared in several publications, including “Blood Orange Review,” “BULL,” “The Carolina Quarterly” and “CRAFT,” among other places. Like the main character of his novel, Maynor is from the Lowcountry. He lives and writes in a patched-up fish camp on the bank of the Edisto River, “the longest free-flowing blackwater river in North America,” Maynor said. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and he is the past recipient of the Larry Brown Short Story Award and the Coker Fellowship in Fiction from the South Carolina Academy of Authors.
Maynor also credited his alma mater with giving him the confidence he needed as a young writer. While rejection letters can be discouraging, another valuable life skill he picked up at Lander was his endurance: “to keep writing and keep submitting, despite the narrow odds and the persistent rejection that comes along with being a writer.” Jameson thinks that endurance is crucial to finding success in writing.
“With enough practice, most students will eventually develop their voice and find where to look for their material, but few have the drive to keep on writing and submitting after they graduate,” Jameson said. “I knew right away that Robby had the drive.”