Friday, February 19, 2016

An Illiterate Walks Into an MFA Program

As published in The Huffington Post

Despite having written two nonfiction books, I don't know how to write. Shh.

Have you ever done something without knowing how but you just did it anyway and could never explain it? That's me for writing, and now I'm attending a low residency Master of Fine Arts in creative writing program for fiction.

I arrived at the program's first ten-day residency in Maine with my cohorts, ranging from 22 to 86 years old, all excited to avert real life for a week and a half. I first met Cameron, who had just finished undergrad, and we went out for lunch. Cameron played outfield for his college baseball team but writing is his real passion. I admired how he writes every day no excuses. He built writing into his daily life, like brushing my teeth, and even then every so often I drink whiskey and forget.

During the residency, I often sat with Cameron in front of our hotel rooms after seminars just listening. Cameron taught me about profluence--keeping the story going--and inserting detail and untraditional sentences at select moments. Cameron offered as much valuable insight as the bestselling authors who served on the faculty. He helped me maintain footing in an otherwise overwhelming environment.

"What writing classes did you take in college?" I said.

"Just Reading in Poetry. And Adventures in Nonfiction, Argumentative Writing, Literary Theory, Major American Authors, Brit Lit 1 and 2, Film and Literature Adaptation, Grammar, Young Adult Lit, Comparative Lit, and two creative writing classes. How about you?"

"...Shit this pho is spicy!" Keep reading An Illiterate Walks Into an MFA Program.