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”

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EMBRACING THE OUTLINE: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love the Spreadsheet

by John Pipkin
Spalding MFA faculty, Fiction

pipkinblogquoteThe 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”

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

by Gabriel Jason Dean
Spalding MFA faculty, Screenwriting
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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”

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”

SAILING WITH AHAB’S WIFE

By Sena Jeter Naslund
Spalding MFA Program Director

Growing up, it was the novel rather than the short story that had made me want to be a writer, but in graduate school at Iowa I had written only short stories. While I had published a short story collection, Ice Skating at the North Pole, I would need to serve an apprenticeship learning how to manage the form of the novel, from the inside-out. Continue reading “SAILING WITH AHAB’S WIFE”

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”