Leah Henderson, who graduated from the Spalding MFA program in 2011 with a concentration on Writing for Children and Young Adults, has just launched her first middle grade novel, One Shadow on the Wall, which takes place in Senegal and centers on an eleven-year-old boy named Mor. After Mor’s parents die, he becomes head of household and must keep his two younger sisters safe. But it is not easy for someone so young to shoulder such a burden. And the world can be very cruel. The book is a gripping read that explores themes of loyalty, faith, and redemption. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Leah about her first (surely of many!) publications. Continue reading “PATIENCE, PROCESS, PUBLICATION: Lesléa Newman & Leah Henderson”
by Larry Brenner
Spalding MFA faculty, Screenwriting & Playwriting
(originally published 2012)
I’ve heard that one of the great parts of being a dad is that you can recapture what it’s like to be a kid again. Relive your childhood.
But I don’t think my childhood ever ended. Not really. Not where it counts. I think it’s more like watching how my childhood got started. Because the processes I developed back then are still the processes I use right now.
by K. L. Cook
Spalding MFA Faculty, Fiction
As both a writer and teacher, I’ve been obsessed with the question of influence, both nonliterary and literary. It’s informed my scholarly work as well as my fiction and nonfiction, not to mention the kinds of courses I’ve designed, such as Forms of Fiction, Sudden Fiction, Short Story Cycle, Literature of the American Dream, Shakespeare, The American West in Film and Literature, and Family Systems in Film and Literature. A couple of years ago, I taught a special topics course for MFA students at Iowa State University entitled The Ecstasy of Influence, in which the students and I explored what we talk about when we talk about literary influence. It is one of my favorite courses—and one that helped me reshape the kinds of questions I now focus on for most of my other creative writing and literature courses. Continue reading “WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT INFLUENCE”
by John Pipkin
Spalding MFA faculty, Fiction
The outline is one of the most misunderstood parts of the creative process. For many writers, the very idea of outlining seems antithetical to creativity itself. However, this misperception overlooks the creative liberation that can come from outlining (and re-outlining) your project as it develops. I write novels that involve multiple characters with multiple interwoven storylines unfolding at different times and places because these are the kinds of stories that I like to read. But these narratives can easily fall to chaos, and so I rely heavily on outlining my work before, during, and after each draft. I outline everything that I write, long and short, complex and simple. Continue reading “EMBRACING THE OUTLINE: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love the Spreadsheet”
Here’s what Spalding MFA students, alumni, faculty, and staff have been publishing, producing, and doing since our last update!
By Sam Zalutsky
Spalding MFA faculty, Screenwriting
Right now I’m finishing up Seaside, a microbudget feature which I wrote, directed, and produced. I’m so eager and excited for people to see it. But the filmmaking process is definitely a marathon and not a sprint. Maybe it’s a little like what happens when you are waiting for a book to be published. Postproduction can be particularly challenging. The immediacy and control of pre-production and shooting are replaced with a much slower and less intense schedule. And sometimes it feels like nothing is happening. Argh! Continue reading “LIVING IN LIMBO: How to Stay Focused & Motivated on Large Projects”
By Dianne Aprile
Spalding MFA faculty, Creative Nonfiction
I’m a big fan of ambiguous endings. I have no problem with being left in the middle of things in the last scene. In fact, I find pleasure in lingering with a range of possibilities after the final page is turned. I have no quarrel with a novel or memoir that closes with its main character teetering on the brink of change—rather than safely ensconced on the other side of it. Continue reading “NO EXIT: When Endings Disappoint”
By Katy Yocom
Spalding MFA Associate Administrative Director
The Spalding low-residency MFA in Writing program is gearing up for its spring residency, May 26-June 4 in Louisville, Kentucky. The residency features dozens of special events and sessions, acclaimed guest speakers, faculty craft lectures, and a special performance by the nationally acclaimed Louisville Leopard Percussionists.
In addition, the MFA program is pleased to welcome a new faculty member in writing for children and young adults, as well as a special guest workshop leader in poetry.
by Roy Hoffman
Spalding MFA faculty, fiction & creative nonfiction
When you pack your bags for your next trip, whether a few hours from home or as far away, to an American traveler, as Buenos Aires, Rome, or Edinburgh, take along your travel writer’s sensibility. You’ll already have the tools in place—pen and paper, laptop and camera—so making a record of where you go, what you see, eat, and learn, is not a practical but perceptual challenge. Our senses become heightened by the excitement of travel, the allure of different landscapes, languages and foods. As writers we note it all in colorful detail in our journals and e-mails home. But how can we shape this material into articles or personal essays for a larger audience? Here are some tips—and questions—to keep in mind. Continue reading “REFLECTIONS ON TRAVEL WRITING”
by Gabriel Jason Dean
Spalding MFA faculty, Screenwriting
Spalding Screenwriting student, Cassie Brower, is currently the Director of Original Programming at Disney Junior in Los Angeles. Cassie has overseen the hit shows Sofia the First, The Lion Guard, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Mickey and the Roadster Racers, Sheriff Callie’s Wild West, as well as several short series. I had the pleasure of working with Cassie as her mentor during her first semester at Spalding. We inevitably discussed time-management and daily practice during our time together. And since those are topics I’m asked about by almost all the Spalding students I mentor, I reckoned a blog post was in order. But rather than just espousing what works for me, I thought it might also be beneficial to hear from Cassie, arguably one of Spalding’s busiest students. Continue reading “TAPPING INTO THE “FOREVER EMPTY”: A Conversation between Mentor & Mentee”