All posts tagged: writer life

Yes, even if there's a toddler in your lap.

You Should Still Be Writing

The point is that I keep writing when nobody’s making me. I keep writing even when I don’t have a deadline, a graduate school demanding I turn something in.

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Meeting Alison Bechdel, WUSTL’s Visiting Hurst Professor in Nonfiction

Photo Credit: David Blank   Something that really excited me about WUSTL’s MFA program was its impressive rotation of visiting writers. In nonfiction this semester alone we hosted readings from Dinty W. Moore, who also visited one of our graduate classes; and Meghan Daum, who led a small discussion workshop prior to her talk. Hurst Visiting Professors spend even more time with us: we invite one writer per genre per semester to present a craft talk and/or reading, read student manuscripts, and meet with students one-on-one. This semester, our poets met with Claudia Rankine, and our fiction students met with Joy Williams. Being the inaugural year of nonfiction, I didn’t know who WUSTL would be able to bring in. When I found out that our Hurst was Alison Bechdel, I felt pretty embarrassed that I didn’t know who she was. As my partner put it to me, “How do you not know who Alison Bechdel is?” I blame a few things: my somewhat isolated and closeted life growing up in a little bitty farm town …

Dealing with Doubt

Image: Romain Toornier  My first day of classes is in twenty-three days and all I can think about is not going. I have this vision of raising my hand after attendance is taken and saying, “Excuse me, Professor, you didn’t call my name.” He’ll scan the list one more time, shake his head, and tell me to go to the main office down the hall, on the right. I’ll slide my notebook back into my bag and try not to focus on those watching me leave the classroom. I’ll explain my situation to a woman behind the front desk, and wait anxiously as she types away on her keyboard. And then I’ll see it—the “oh shit” face – and know something is wrong. She won’t even excuse herself to me—she’ll just speed into the office behind her, point to me, and nod her head. “I’m so sorry, Ms. Sharkey,” she’ll say, “but you’re actually not a student here at Stony Brook Southampton. There was an error and I’m afraid you weren’t actually accepted into the MFA …

Lauren J Sharkey Introduction (Stony Brook Southampton ’16)

Image:  Noukka Signe I’ve never liked the word “writer.” I guess that’s why I always give people my job title when they ask what I do. Doing this allows me to avoid those stereotypical questions—so what do you write about? But what do you really do? Isn’t it a bad time to go into print? That’s not the reason I avoid the word though. The real reason is because calling myself a writer somehow feels like a huge lie. My parents, like many parents, wanted me to go to college. They wanted me to have job security, meet a nice man, and select just the right shade of Egg Shell for my gender-neutral nursery. They did not want a child in “the arts.”  I suppose it’s not uncommon. After all, creatives aren’t really known for their job stability. So, I went to college. I got a job, met a nice guy, and (after three wonderful years) found myself wanting all these things. I traded novels for wedding magazines. I lost myself in Pinterest and Etsy—trying to figure …