WHY DO AN MFA IN WRITING, AND WHY AT SPALDING UNIVERSITY?

by Jody Lisberger
Spalding MFA faculty, Fiction

Many people want to know, “What does an MFA in Writing at Spalding get me?” So we asked our alums of all ages and from all over the world to help us out.

Forty-eight graduates, 19 men and 29 women, starting with the first class of 2003 to the present, responded to our open question: How did the Spalding MFA in Writing low-residency program impact you professionally, creatively, and personally? Their responses extol and probe both surprising and not surprising reasons to pursue an MFA in general, and a Spalding MFA in particular. Continue reading “WHY DO AN MFA IN WRITING, AND WHY AT SPALDING UNIVERSITY?”

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PATIENCE, PROCESS, PUBLICATION: Lesléa Newman & Leah Henderson

by Lesléa Newman
Spalding MFA faculty, Writing for Children and Young Adults

Leah HendersonLeah 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. OSOTW CoverAfter 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”

AN INFINITELY RECURSIVE CHILDHOOD

by Larry Brenner
Spalding MFA faculty, Screenwriting & Playwriting

(originally published 2012)

IMG_6846I’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.

Continue reading “AN INFINITELY RECURSIVE CHILDHOOD”

WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT INFLUENCE

by K. L. Cook
Spalding MFA Faculty, Fiction

IMG_5B702B6CCEA7-1As 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”

LIVING IN LIMBO: How to Stay Focused & Motivated on Large Projects

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”

REFLECTIONS ON TRAVEL WRITING

by Roy Hoffman
Spalding MFA faculty, fiction & creative nonfiction

Roy_BlogImageWhen 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”

TAPPING INTO THE “FOREVER EMPTY”: A Conversation between Mentor & Mentee

by Gabriel Jason Dean
Spalding MFA faculty, Screenwriting
cassie headshot

Cassie Brower

Spalding Screenwriting student, Cassie Brower, is currently the Director of Original Programming at Disney Junior in Los Angeles. DISNEY JUNIOR LOGOCassie 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”

WRITING WHILE LIVING

By Leslie Daniels
Spalding MFA faculty, fiction
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I am struck by how many of my students write beautifully in the midst of very dense lives. Some are working extremely hard on other jobs, some have young families, or run their own businesses, or care for elderly parents.

I ask them when they write. Some get up at four AM, or write after everyone has gone to sleep. Some write on their lunch hours. Continue reading “WRITING WHILE LIVING”

GROWING UP WRITING

By Nancy McCabe
Spalding MFA Faculty, Creative Nonfiction

“…reminiscing about my origins as a writer is not just a nostalgic act, but one that helps me to keep sight of the reasons why I write.”

I’m surprised by people who think of writing as drudgery, an onerous task we take on to punish ourselves only because of our unforgiving work ethics. For me, the need to write goes back to my childhood, when writing was just another game, like playacting or drawing. Writing, when I was young, was a pleasure, a refuge, solace, a chance to play, with no need to demand perfection from myself, and writing as an adult, is, much of the time, an attempt to recapture that experience. Continue reading “GROWING UP WRITING”