Author: Rachel Heng

On Grief, Publishing Your First Novel and Turning 30

I turn 30 this weekend! (I’m hoping the exclamation mark makes it less of a terrifying new phase of life) When I started the MFA Years I thought I’d blog a lot more; after years of writing fiction around the day job, I was finally headed to grad school and the full time writing life. I would have so much time! And so many things to say about the publication journey! If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know that that hasn’t, um, been quite the case. Turns out there’s a strange law of productivity that dictates the more time you have, the less productive you are. Back in 2016, I was still working in finance, writing fiction in the wee hours of the morning, editing at night, planning a wedding, applying to 13 graduate programs and somehow managing to stay on top of life admin (tax returns, remortgaging our flat, organising family visits etc). Today, a mere email asking me for a single scanned document can send my day into a downward procrastination spiral (I will spare …

On applying

Photo: Bryan Jones I was going to write a post about my first month at Michener, but since I’ve been getting a bunch of application-related questions from people on Draft, I thought it might be helpful to do an ‘applying to MFAs’ post. A version of this post appeared previously on my own blog, so feel free to ignore it if you’ve seen it before. If not, I hope it’s helpful for you as you put your applications together! There are a wealth of resources on Creative Writing MFAs online, plus if you’re reading The MFA Years, I’m guessing you’re already well aware of the basics (e.g. don’t go into debt for an MFA, admission rates to top programs are <1% so apply to 10-13 schools if you can, it’s all about the writing sample, start early, etc). So I’ll focus more on my own thought process and subjective experience. Major caveat that anyone reading this should take it as just another datapoint. I’m not purporting to preach the truth / tell you whether you …

Rachel Heng Introduction (Michener Center for Writers ’20)

Image: Nick Page In two days I will fly to Austin to start my MFA, but for now I find myself in the living room of my flat in London, surrounded by very large piles of clothes. Turns out shipping things across the Atlantic is eye-wateringly expensive (duh, what did I think), so I’ve spent the last few days trying to give away/donate/throw out most of my belongings. I am an unapologetic hoarder. I own movie stubs from 2008 and cut-off shorts from 2003 (that I have last worn when I was literally 14. 14.) and pebbles plucked off a beach in 1999. My husband’s wedding vows contained the line, “In the past 8 years, I have watched you collect about 1 million items.” All my other international moves had been for work and therefore paid for, so I’ve never had to throw anything out before. Every last half-used notebook, every last ticket stub came with me, from Singapore to New York, New York back to Singapore, Singapore to London. But now, for the first …