All posts tagged: UCR

Your MFA is a Team Sport

Photo credit: Eric Wong, Basketball Hoop I’ve always been a highly competitive person. At five years old, I started figure skating. Adorned with pink sequins and doing my best bunny hops and swizzles to the tune of Captain Kangeroo, my mom had to teach me that it was not okay to cheer when my competitors fell down. Actually, that was generally frowned upon. A little older but still bloodthirsty, I played basketball in a youth league at my local YMCA. During the pre-game prayer, I spent more time sizing up the other team than asking Jesus for a safe game and flawless layups. Not gifted with any kind of decent dribbling skills, I relied on my height and strength to play. I gave defense my all… often to the point that I fouled out for throwing too many elbows. After the ref blew the whistle the fifth time, I gave my dad an enthusiastic thumbs up to celebrate my removal from the game while he looked at his brutish daughter with mild horror. I’ve spent …

Abandoning the ROI – From the Corporate World to the MFA Program

Photo credit: Neil Hall, Glass Office Building London I’ve been a graduate student for three weeks, and have cried in my professor’s office once. I haven’t been here long enough to determine if this ratio is a success or not, but am continuing my market research nonetheless. Let me back up – Before I started the MFA program in Creative Nonfiction at UC Riverside, I spent ten years working the corporate world in online marketing. Six of those years were at the same job, a small gaming company in Austin, Texas. That company was a place where I knew how to succeed. I knew my coworker’s various quirks and how to approach the right person to get what I needed. I knew the promotion calendar like the back of my hand, and had code and graphics and all the nitty gritty details down to a science. Life at that company was very comfortable for me and although I was sad for my tenure there to end, I left optimistic in the pursuit of dreams with …

Lauren Mauldin Introduction (University of California Riverside)

I never considered myself to be a pool person. Something about stretching spandex over my fat rolls, and slathering my pale, Scandinavian skin in sunscreen to avoid inevitable sun shock never exactly screamed ‘relaxation’ to me. But now I spend my afternoons bobbing through aqua water, surrounded by palm trees. On my lounge chair by the edge of the pool, the pages of a memoir warm in the sun. I float, a little aimless and untethered, waiting for classes to start. I’m still surprised that I moved to Southern California. I never thought I’d have the chance to get an MFA either. It was a dream that began ten years ago, when I was an undergraduate at North Carolina State University. MFA students at NCSU taught my intro creative writing classes, and helped shape my initial journey as a writer. I idolized them, and I wanted to be part of that elite club of people that choose to put words in the forefront of their lives. When the time came for me to decide what …

First Years versus Second Years

Image: Daniel Orth In September, phones all over SoCal lit up with the same message, the bios for the new admits were up. By ourselves and in small groups, we plugged the link for our MFA program into our browsers. We held our faces close to our laptop screens to better see every freckle, smile line, and sun spot (or lack thereof) of the new recruit’s faces in the small photos next to their blurbs. We read the words they’d written about their selves in third person and wondered what they would be like IRL. As a Peer Mentor, I have more frequent contact with this year’s incoming cohort than most second years. Second years are busier than first years, because we’re taking classes, teaching classes, and trying to finish up our thesis. We have offices that we spend our spare time on campus in versus the sticky 10-chair conference table in the lobby of our department, so chance conversations are harder to encounter. I remember this same unintentional divide existing last year and not really …

1 Year Down, 1 To Go!

My first year as an MFA graduate student wrapped up the first week of June and I’ve spent the last 3 weeks or so traveling (Portland for the first time! Little sister’s last-minute wedding! Escape-the-Heat trips to LA!). Now that I’m back home with no other plans this summer, I’m feeling overwhelmed by all the writing I need to do, the fact that it’s time for my memoir to take on the shape of a book, and the constant voice in the back of my head that asks nonstop “Who even cares?” I’m fortunate that my first year as an MFA has given me some tools and insights into my writing and a social circle of writer friends to bounce ideas off. I’m also pleased to announce that I will be leading a Memoir Workshop in Riverside, CA in July/August (the fiction workshop will be led by Tatyana, another writer in my cohort). If you’re interested or know anyone in the area who might be, you can find more info here.

MFA, What Have You Done For Me Lately?

Last month I enrolled in a literary review course led by Tom Lutz, EIC of the Los Angeles Review of Books. I had never written a literary review, but enrolled in the class because I felt it was a valuable skill to have as a writer. As it turns out, I enjoyed writing reviews. At first I struggled, because my voice tends to have a pop culture slant and I thought I needed to elevate it to write reviews. This created an essay that wasn’t quite sure what it wanted to be. A few revisions later, I had a cohesive essay fit for publication on Issa Rae’s new memoir. The next essay I wrote was a multi-book essay and the writing was even stronger. In class one day, my prof had an ARC for Ruby By Cynthia Bond, an Oprah Book Club 2.0 pick. The book was on my to-read and I asked my prof if I could have it. When he said yes I quickly stashed the book in my bag. My classmates teased me a little …