All posts tagged: UCR

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 …

Watch Your Step!

A couple of weeks ago, I did this really cool thing where I stepped off a curb into a storm drain. The drop was further than expected and onto an uneven surface and I double sprained my ankle (I simultaneously sprained the inside and outside of my ankle). I missed class. Which I can’t stand to do—no pun intended. I can count on one hand the number of classes I missed in 4 years of undergrad. The members of my cohort really came to my aid from taking me to the student health center, taking me to class and assisting me with my grocery shopping. My professor whose class I missed reached out several times to check-in on me. I felt well cared for and am ever grateful. Fortunately, I’m a writer and not an athlete, so I’ve still been able to get my reading and writing done. Although, not as much of either as I had planned. There’s something about being marooned on your bed that will drain the motivation from you to do …

Somebody Handed Me a Microphone…

Image: Photo Cindy A call went out via email for UC Riverside’s first MFA reading in partnership with the Calstate San Bernardino MFA program and a local bookstore. I didn’t not heed the call, because I’ve got fairly raspy voice (ongoing issues with a strained vocal cord) and was concerned no one would be able to understand what I was saying should I get nervous and my throat tense up. Then another email went out to a few more of us, they were still looking for readers and would really like someone to represent nonfiction, so I volunteered. I had never participated in a reading before. I immediately started panicking about what I would read, convinced nothing was good enough. And things got real when the flyer for the event went out: I finally decided I would read an excerpt from the first chapter of my memoir. I had just begun my first draft of this chapter the week before, so it was really rough. I reached out to a couple of friends in my cohort, …