Author: Ignacio B. Peña

The Lowdown, Five Weeks In

Image: Ignacio B. Peña I am losing track of time. For me, class has now been in full swing for about five weeks and I feel at this point like I’m spinning around faster every day, trying to keep track of every element that surrounds my life, to varying degrees of success. I’ll try and organize this here as best as I can, but this might get messy. I have no context for masters programs outside of what my fellow contributors in their respective courses have described, but for a look, here is how my semester is breaking down. There are approximately close to thirty masters writing students in my group (something like twenty-four in prose, three in poetry.) The prose students are divided into three workshop groups where we submit a written piece of fiction every two weeks, so that half the workshop class submits a piece of writing one week, followed by the other half the next week. That’s every Tuesday. Wednesday’s we have a class dedicated to reading novels at the program …

On the Move

Image: Ignacio B. Peña Greetings from Edinburgh, Scotland. I’m still under a week away from our first introductory workshop session, but I thought it best to write what it’s been like living in the city for what’s coming up on two weeks now. Arriving in the city still hasn’t proven to be the great big sigh of relief that some might have expected it to be; I have arrived at my destination but I am still on the move. It’s not appropriate to say that I am homeless. Indeed, it would be greatly disrespectful to the large amount of homeless people that sit on the streets here begging for money from the swathe of tourists flooding the Royal Mile. But I can easily say I’m feeling a little weary at the idea of classes coming on soon and still not being terribly sure where it is I’m going to be laying my bags down for the rest of the year. At the moment, it’s looking like I may have found a place for the 1st …

“Papers, please.”

Image: Ignacio B. Peña Edinburgh has a pretty straightforward application process. Every form of communication is done online, including the submission of past qualifications and transcripts. There are no application fees, and I wasn’t asked for any GRE results. Aside from my past academic history, the whole application process seems to be judged on the strength of two writing pieces, a statement of intent, and two letters of recommendation from people who were familiar with my capacity for creative work and criticism. To be completely truthful, I didn’t agonize over any part of my submission material at the time that I applied. I was lucky enough to have one story that had already been published, and a second one that had been spent under a considerable amount of scrutiny. As for my statement of intent, I wrote it in an evening with a head full of fire, convinced that I needed to leave everything that was happening in my life behind, driving me full speed toward a year of writing, whether I was accepted by …

Ignacio B. Peña Introduction (University of Edinburgh ’16)

Hello. My name is Ignacio, and I am a fraud. Let me elaborate. I was born in a city within the greater Los Angeles area to parents who had immigrated from Guadalajara, Mexico. Growing up as a Mexican-American, I never once had a moment where I was proud of my Mexican heritage, nor was I ever a die-hard American patriot. It’s not that I have ever really been ashamed of being one or the other; far from it. It was just something I never gave much thought. If there was one thing that always bothered me as a child, it was more that I just never really liked the city I was raised in. Early on, I hated just how gray and brown it was. I grew up wishing it were greener. As I grew older, I also wished it were smaller. Older still, and I started wishing I could leave. At some point I began to feel like I didn’t belong there. At the time I thought I must have been born in the …