All posts tagged: Popular Fiction

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 …

I Quit my Job Yesterday

This post has caused a lot of anxiety on my part, because it’s very personal. I’m an MFA candidate. I also worked full-time at a job that was in no way writing-related and expected me to work ten hours a day with a vigorous passion for others. This last month, I made a decision to leave that job in order to completely focus on my studies. My job involves other people, including about a hundred children who depend on me being there at my job. There is a lot of guilt that has come with leaving them. They don’t understand why I need to do what I need to do, and on some days, I doubt myself in my selfishness. But this is the way things have to be right now. When I got into my low-res program, I thought I could balance both. It became apparent on both sides pretty quickly that it wasn’t going to happen. Both needed me. My program needed me. My job needed me. And they were each getting half …

An Open Letter to the Writers who Read Boudinot’s Article

Dear Reader/Writer, Everyone’s writing open letters to Boudinot himself, but honestly, I don’t want to write to him. He wrote his article in a way that would get attention and people talking, and yes we are talking, but I don’t really want to talk to him. He is cool with himself, he has his clout, and I’m not worried about him. I’m worried about you. As a teacher and as a writer and as an MFA student, I want to make sure you understand how this teacher is wrong. I could pull from my own examples of my students and me, but I’d rather point to better teachers. So let’s talk about Mrs. A and Professor Z. I had Mrs. A when I was in seventh grade. I’d spent the entire summer typing out this awful bloated whale of a high fantasy series. I brought it to my teacher on the first day of school. I asked her to read it. She took it home, she read through the whole thing, and she brought it …

An Inside Look With Heather Houston, Seton Hill University ’16

Note: Thank you to first year contributor J.R. Dawson for providing me with these questions! How does your residency work and how it is paced? Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction program (#SHUWPF) operates with two residencies a year – January and June. Our program is 2.5 years long. Six residencies and five ‘college terms’. Students start with a residency (where they are labeled as ONEs) and they end with a residency (where they are labeled SIXs). Winter Residency starts on a Friday night at 7pm with orientation. Summer residency starts on a Tuesday at the same time. One of the directors opens the program and we are told about the theme of the week. The theme for this January 2015 was “Why do you write?” Our residencies are broken up into three-hour blocks in the morning and the afternoon. The first morning the three-hour block is broken in half. The first 1.5 hours is a mixed class (meaning anyone from any class in the program) where we talk about the Common Reading for the residency. This …

“Otherness” in MFA programs

Much has been made of the lack of people of color (POC) enrolled in master of fine arts programs. Last year, best-selling writer of color, Junot Diaz, made the rounds on a variety of news outlets to discuss the lack of diversity in many MFA programs. Diaz was expressing a real concern and frustration for the lack of diversity in both the student body and the faculty at many of the MFA programs around the country. As his message got louder and spread across the media last summer, other writers echoed his sentiments and shared their stories about workshop experiences (NPR  dubbed the experience “writing while other”). For many writers who identify themselves as “other,” they see this problem as an extension of the publishing world as well, where agents and publishers are not interested in fiction projects that are written by or feature people of color. The excuse is often given that no one buys those books. The standard reply from a person of color, “How would you know? Have you tried?” Obviously, books exists …