Creating My Customized Writing Education

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Growing up, I knew I had an overwhelming passion for reading and writing. But as a first generation daughter of Jamaican immigrants, and I knew my family had high expectations for my career path. I made murmurs that I wanted to be a writer, but they said you should want to become a lawyer, think of the steady money and prestige! Entering the fashion industry was a type of compromise…

Read More >>

Make Your Own MFA

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

I’m going to cut to the chase. I firmly believe that there are only two things you really need to become a great writer: 1) lots of practice, and 2) good critique partners. That’s it. Everything else is mirrors and glitter. Practice is simple. Practice makes you better. Critique partners are a little more complicated, but you can still find them online and in your local town: good ones help…

Read More >>

The Writer’s Education—MFA versus NYC

Monday, May 11, 2020

In a widely read essay entitled “MFA vs NYC,” bestselling novelist Chad Harbach (The Art of Fielding) argued that the American literary scene has split into two cultures: New York publishing versus university MFA programs. His book brings together established writers, MFA professors and students, and New York editors, publicists, and agents to talk about these overlapping worlds, and the ways writers make (or fail to make) a living within…

Read More >>

Julie’s MFA Program in Books (Favorites in Parentheses)

Thursday, April 26, 2018

  I don’t have an MFA. I have a masters….in education administration. Occasionally, I will wonder if I shouldn’t do some kind of low-residency program, just to see what-all I don’t know. But that sounds depressing, not to mention time-consuming. How many Raymond Carver short stories can a person read in one lifetime? Probably a lot.   As far as I know, they don’t offer MFA degrees in upmarket women’s…

Read More >>

An Eloquent Defense of Writing Degrees (Not Written By Kimmery)

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

This week’s topic is “MFA and Writing Classes” and I’ve got precious little to say here. It’s probably glaringly apparent I don’t have an MFA or a graduate degree in writing. I’ve taken no writing classes either, although I have signed up for a few sessions at various conferences. When it comes to writing, I’m an autodidact. I’m also fond of doing things the hard way: I don’t outline, pre-plot,…

Read More >>

How a Film Nerd became an Author

Friday, September 16, 2016

This past March I attended the AWP Conference in LA. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a four day conference with dozens of workshops, panels, readings and whole heap of networking with fellow writers, teachers, and publishing industry savants. It’s one of the largest literary conferences in America (FYI, I’ll be speaking at two panels next year in Washington D.C). As I made my way through a sea of…

Read More >>

MFA, Schm-MFA…and Other Reasons Why I’m the Unlikeliest of Authors

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I’ve always been a reader. My first word was “book,” and some of my most treasured childhood memories are from the days I spent cozied up with Roald Dahl stories. By the time I was thirteen, I discovered Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury, gateway authors into the science fiction world. My geekiness soared tenfold. Perhaps those authors give the impression I was a sophisticated child reader; my big sister…

Read More >>

I Did It My Way or The Importance of the Liberal Arts

Monday, September 12, 2016

Last week I was reading an article in the Washington Post about how my generation has been churning out helicopter parents who don’t want their kids to study literature or liberal arts. Curious, I inquired how many were history majors. Of the 24 honors students in the seminar, there were none. English? Philosophy? Fine arts? Only one. How was this possible? I asked. Almost in unison, half a dozen replied: “Our parents…

Read More >>

Confessions of an MFA Dropout…Who Eventually Finished

Friday, September 18, 2015

I have been loving the MFA conversation this week. The fact that I get to weigh in last feels almost like taking a test where I’ve been able to look over everyone else’s shoulder… In my 20s, I began a low-residency MFA program–which shall remain nameless–in New England. It had an all-white faculty, and a focus on literary fiction. Although I was writing literary fiction at the time, it was…

Read More >>

My piecemeal writing education…

Thursday, September 17, 2015

My honors English teacher turned me into a lifetime reader. She talked about characters as if they were real, as if to read about them was to be included in their adventures. She introduced me to To Kill a Mockingbird and laughed with me about passing the damn ham. When she asked why I didn’t care for The Catcher in the Rye, I told her Holden Caulfield was a whiner; she grinned….

Read More >>