Author: Natalie Lima

Second Time’s The Charm

“Rejection is the most common thing a writer can experience. When it comes to writing, rejection is the rule, not the exception. If you cannot handle rejection, don’t be a writer.”  –Roxane Gay In the last eight months, I’ve been awarded a PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellowship and a Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation (VONA) fellowship, had my first short story published, another story accepted for publication, and was admitted to a fully-funded MFA creative writing program. Before you vomit, I want to tell you that I share this not to make anyone hate me, but because I did not receive any of these accolades the first time I applied for them. To be even clearer: I was rejected a lot before I heard one “yes” to my writing. My new joke is that I never get anything the first time I apply, so I always save all my applications and prepare to apply again. Around this time last year, I was lying in my bed late at night, eating McDonald’s apple pies …

Writing As “Other” And Why You Have To Tell Your Stories

photo credit: via NPR Code Switch (Images.com/Corbis) I am not your perfect liberal. Sometimes I accidentally mess up gender pronouns, and I watch television shows that sustain the patriarchy (The Bachelor is such a juicy mess this season). Sometimes I date self-obsessed men who fuck with my self-esteem, and I take way-too-long to delete their phone numbers. Every day, I hang out with educated people in the small liberal circles at my university. I don’t spend enough time volunteering in the communities that are like the one I came from. I’m a masters student now. I went to a fancy college. I write things and they get published sometimes. To many folks, I’m living a version of the American Dream. But what am I currently doing to help the people who grew up like me? To let them know that I hear them? That I am still here for us? Nobody in my family voted for Trump. I come from poor people. Poor brown people. Immigrants. My father cannot legally vote. Of course, I always …

Write Like You’re Still A Kid

photo credit: Picasso’s Le Rêve (The Dream), 1932 “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso When I was growing up, I wrote through everything. What I mean is, back then, I wrote through all of my childhood fears, disappointments, and shame. I wrote all of the time, despite any sadness; I wrote in bed, at school in the courtyard during lunch; I wrote in my living room after my family went to sleep; I wrote in tears, when my dad announced, “It’s none of your business where I’m going,” as he walked out of the door to see his new lover; I wrote sitting alone on the school bus, as I stared out the window and watched the viejitos sell giant avocados in the street. I wrote on Saturday mornings for fun, to pass time, to feel part of this world. I wrote because I was so often alone. This is how I got by. This is how I learned the joy …

The MFA, Money, & Diversity (or lack thereof)

Image: http://401kcalculator.org This post is about diversity BUT I think it’s useful to anyone negotiating money after receiving acceptances: Most MFA programs lack diversity. It ain’t a secret; going to school for three years to write stories and/or poetry is probably the bougiest thing you could ever do (besides paying for fluff-n-fold, which I low-key did sometimes when I had a full-time job). If you’re from an underrepresented community (ie. a POC or a first-generation college graduate), many graduate programs have additional fellowships available to you. Before I started my MFA program, I was working in college admissions at a private school in California. Almost immediately, I noticed a pattern that was killing me: After being admitted to the school, the students who asked for (or demanded) additional funding were almost never the POC or low-income students. Often, when a low-income student didn’t receive enough funding, they’d either choose to go into debt, or they’d choose not to attend the school at all. But, of course, the students who asked for more funding from the college …

Natalie Lima Introduction (University of Alabama ’19)

Photo Credit: facebook.com/AlabamaFTBL Today is the first home football game of the season. It’s early September in the Deep South—Tuscaloosa, AL—and the streets are empty because the game is under way. There are no cars on the road. No people in line at Target. There’s not much to do, except maybe write. But I’ve been struggling with this part, the writing thing. At twenty-nine, I applied to MFA programs for precisely this reason: the time and space to write. People warned me that the degree would be useless. Don’t spend a dime on it, they said. So I didn’t. I applied to fully-funded programs, two years in a row. On my second round, I got into two and wait-listed at a third. At the program I chose, I received a great diversity fellowship, and I’m earning enough money to live on. I have an apartment with giant windows and tons of sunlight. Everything is just as I wanted, just as I envisioned an ideal writing setting. Yet, for some reason, I’ve been struggling to put …