All posts tagged: Dawson

Concerning Your Creative Thesis …

Note: This blog entry talks primarily about a creative thesis. Dear MFA Student, Congratulations on getting in/your impending graduation! It’s been a long application process/one to three years of study. No matter where you are on your magical journey of poverty and eye exhaustion from reading assignments, I am going to tell you all about the thesis. Yes, the thesis. The last hurdle in obtaining your magical nugget of a degree. For new students, the thesis is a mystical dragon living far away in a misty mountain they’ve only heard about in stories. For near-to graduating students, that dragon has arrived, is now burning down Lake-town, and you are not the one with the magical dragon-killing arrow. You’re feeling more like the fat guy who gets the dead monster corpse dropped on him. So first: Don’t panic. In its heart of hearts, the dragon that is your thesis is actually your beautiful baby in disguise. It’s just got an evil spell of guidelines and deadlines cast upon it. The thesis, if you are doing a …

Attending ICFA Three Months Before Graduation

  This weekend, I attended ICFA for the first time. So I suffer from Impostor Syndrome, and I swore all of my interactions were going to go like this: But actually, because everyone is so cool and we writers are all nerdy masochists who love our art, it ended up like this:   I got to present on a panel about Alternate History in Science Fiction and Fantasy, and it went really well. I got to talk about my thesis and talk about other people’s projects. We went to a bunch of presentations and listened to cool papers and hung out by the pool, and the best BBQ comes three hours late after long talks about injustice and mini-lessons on ASL. I got to get some great advice from some great mentors, listen to people’s new projects, and grab all of the books I could possible fit into my suitcase. Everyone is trying to figure it out, trying to fight for what they believe in, trying to reach out and share ideas and grow as …

Advice from the Final Semester

  “Let me tell you what I wish I’d known …”  – Lin-Manuel Miranda I have one more semester before I am released into the wild again. So for those of you who haven’t started your program yet, this is for you. When I started, I thought I wasn’t good. I was not as good as I am now, and I wasn’t as good as I will be in the future. But I was better than I had been, and I was making an investment in my future as an artist. Just by admitting that I needed an MFA program, and having the courage to fill in an application, I was leaps ahead of where I could have been. It is okay to not know everything, to feel like you’re a sham. The job of an admissions council is not to pick the people who are the best, but those who are going to be the best. You are going to be overwhelmed. You are going to worry a lot. You are going to feel …

The Best and Worst Things About Being an MFA Student in 2015

It’s the end of the year, and that means time for lists! By this time next year, I will have graduated my MFA program. By this time six months from now, I will have just graduated. This time last year, I’d only been in the program for six months. So this means that 2015 was my only year of completely being in this graduate program. Time to reflect! BEST THINGS: 1. I LEARNED HOW TO WRITE! I know, what? In a writing program? It seems obvious, but until you’re in the thick of it, you don’t realize just how much you’re changing and adapting and learning until you look at a manuscript you wrote before entering the program, and you give out an “ohhhhh fuuuuuuudge.” All of the reading and writing and analyzing and work-shopping forces you to grow and evolve as a person in the field. 2. I MET REALLY COOL PEOPLE. My professors and my fellow students are some of the coolest, most open-hearted people I’ve worked with. Sometimes I read things that …

A Summer of Writing in Europe: My Ireland Residency

The coolest thing about Stonecoast is the Ireland residency. Instead of going to Maine for one semester, you can head on over to Dingle or Dublin to write with the amazing Ted and Annie Deppe, along with their great friends like Angela Patten and Kevin Barry. Kevin Barry. I’d never been out of the US, and I’d spent the last five years sitting in a classroom, so the idea of getting on a red-eye to Shannon and disappearing into the European woodwork for a month was about the greatest thing that could happen to me. The following are journal excerpts from that adventure, taken from my blog where I am currently doing The Year of Writing Challenge. PROLOGUE: JUNE 30th. OMAHA. In the fall of 1978, two young twenty-year-olds each packed a backpack, got on a plane, and moved to London. They’d never been out of the country before. Honestly, they’d not been out of Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois before. She’d grown up on a farm forty minutes from the highway, waking up at six …

On Death and Lobsters: My First Residency

Five days before I left for residency, my friend died. We knew they were sick. But we didn’t know they were going to die. Only a week before they died, I sat online with them and talked about the different proposals we’d give our partners when we were ready and healthy and rich. We talked about our old freshman roommates back when we met in the weird, siphoned-off dormitory that we deemed “Fortress of Solitude.” We’d forgotten the names of people who used to make our lives hell. We only recalled snippets of that former life; a poster of all the Pink Floyd albums on girls’ backs (you know the one), the old Atari that was like a holy shrine to any college dorm, the awkward movie nights I put on in my gigantic apartment down the hall, and the girl who lived between us who lit up everyone’s world and then, upon graduation, disappeared into the hinterlands of another time zone and patch of dreams.