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”

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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”

CRAFTING SURPRISE IN FICTION

By Beth Ann Bauman
Spalding MFA Faculty, Writing for Children & Young Adults

There are truisms about life we all accept—e.g., rejection and loss are painful, success feels great, grief is sad, and so on. And undoubtedly you’ll include universal truisms in your work because you want to reflect life accurately. But what’s more interesting and real are when characters and events surprise us in some way. Because here’s another truism—life is strange. Continue reading “CRAFTING SURPRISE IN FICTION”

THE WORLD IS OUR CLASSROOM: Spalding’s Residency in Edinburgh, July 2017

By Katy Yocom
Spalding MFA Associate Administrative Director

“While in Edinburgh, we’ll stay at a hotel overlooking the Princes Street Gardens, with a view of the imposing Edinburgh Castle. Our classroom space is a few minutes’ walk away, through the gardens and past the Scottish National Gallery.”

At Spalding, we believe the best writing springs from a rich accumulation of life experiences.

That’s why we take our low-residency MFA in Writing program overseas to study creative writing while exploring the literature, art, and culture of a different locale each summer. In 2017, we travel to Edinburgh, the historical and cultural heart of Scotland. Continue reading “THE WORLD IS OUR CLASSROOM: Spalding’s Residency in Edinburgh, July 2017”