Author: Katharine Monger

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It’s Not Just About Me: Initial Reflections on an MFA Workshop

Image: Pixabay Having been a creative writing student in undergrad, by the time I arrived at the first workshop of my MFA studies at Washington University in St. Louis, I should have felt confident that I knew what to expect. Over the years, I had developed a system for writing feedback letters; I had long practiced keeping my mouth shut and my face set like stone when my own piece was up for discussion. And I knew that no matter what was said or how it was said, I wasn’t supposed to take comments personally. But I was still terrified. Just like every other first day of school, I woke up that first morning with a stomach ache. Maybe you’ve heard that workshop is a terrifying ordeal. In my experience, it can be. I’ve had classmates who just really likes to stab and twist. Worse: sometimes, I feel myself turning into that classmate. I’ll be the first to admit that when I feel threatened or embarrassed, I can turn into a purple people eater. I know a few of my strengths—I’m …

Real Writers Take Naps

“What are you writing habits?” A seemingly innocuous go-to icebreaker I’ve both endured and implemented in writing classes is anything but. I would guess that it’s usually well-intentioned. I would guess that it is meant merely to bring writers together through both similarities and idiosyncrasies. Yet, I’ve noticed that sometimes, this question elicits weird competition. “I only write in coffee shops.” “I only write in this coffee shop.” “I only write in this coffee shop at this time on this table drinking this specific latte.” Prepositions get a little turned around on that last one (is she literally sitting on the table with an inkwell and handmade paper?), but you get the point. I’ll be honest. I don’t have a spiritual need to be in a particular place or be eating my favorite cookie or listening to a very specific rendition of Handel’s Messiah (though, on second thought, that would be pretty awesome writing music, don’t you think?). In this post, I’ll be talking honestly about a few writing habits that I do feel a …

Katharine G. Monger Introduction (Washington University in St. Louis ’17)

Image: Alice Popkorn Is there a typical MFA admission story? I’m not sure. Mine feels atypical, but perhaps that’s a self-centered need to be a special snowflake. I’m a second round applicant. I first applied during my senior year at The University of Iowa, because, even though the MFA friends I had gotten close to in college had advised me not to, and even though my professors advised me not to, and even though blogs and Facebook groups and forums told me not to, I was stubborn. I ended up applying to eight programs, all in fiction except for my alma mater, where I had to choose between applying for fiction and nonfiction. (I chose the latter, but that’s another post.) Round 1:  Brown University (R)[1] The University of Texas-Austin (Michener Center) (R) Washington University in St. Louis {W}[2] University of Notre Dame {W} University of Montana (R) Cornell University (R) The University of Iowa (R) University of Massachusetts-Amherst (R) [1] (R) Rejected [2] {W} Waitlisted (official and unofficial) Complicating my self-made abyss of MFA applications was my …