Lesley University’s MFA Program in Writing for Young People
Steven Cramer, the Director of the Creative Writing MFA at Lesley spoke to us during our first semester orientation class in June.
One of the first things he said was, “‘The Work’ should be more fun than fun.”
I’m not sure if I can live up to this, but its definitely what I strive for. I’d say half of the people I know who write love it completely. The other half, who I tend to work more closely with, are the ones for whom writing is a labor and a struggle. It’s not something ‘fun’ but we love it in our own way. The act of creation is a labor; even if it doesn’t feel like it’s one of love sometimes, we keep going.
“We are better critics for others than for ourselves. You are your first and worst critic.”
TRUTH. At this point during the seminar, I doodled a writer throwing their wine glass and manuscript into the fire and watching them burn.
Then we were given terrifying advice on How Not to Waste this Opportunity.
“If a great creative vigor isn’t employed in the attendance of an MFA program someone is cheating themselves.”
On the spectrum of creative people, I am of the type who like to self-sabotage unconsciously. (For the thrill? For the stress? Because creative brains are broken and put back together strangely?) Whatever the reason, I am prone to procrastination, all-nighters, breakdowns, and napping when I have free time rather than writing.
My eyes got big and watery. I was loving the whole experience, getting all these big ideas, but how long would my motivation hang in with me? I wanted to succeed. I worked so hard to be here…
The next thing was, “Don’t freak out.”
This program has been running at Lesley University for 11 years. I was not the first person to be this way, and I will not be the last. What followed was a list that seemed tailored to people like me.
Some seminars were refreshingly full of swearing. It made me feel right at home. These were usually the seminars focused on the task of writing itself; swearing is a part of the process. Ask many classic American authors. Mark Twain was a great fan of swearing.
Advice on Submissions:
Chris Lynch’s Introduction to Workshopping and Critique:
In Laurie Foos’ seminar on “Courting the Muse,” tactics for keeping the creative energy flowing, she said, “I know where you’re going. I know where you’ve been. This is your opportunity to put writing at the center of your life.”
And that was the best thing about the residency: You’re with other people who strove to be here to become better writers. To take their passion and hone it into something.
I always love hearing about other writers’ neuroses and habits and fears and interests and talents. There’s nothing like being in this community.
And I think that is the point of residencies in low-res MFA programs:
You’re not alone.
Don’t freak out.
I see inspiration as an energy bar like the one floating above your character’s head in a video game. The act of creation drains that bar, and your task is to fill it again by reading, looking at art, taking trips to new places, or even just creating a new experience locally.
Like many of us artistic-types, I struggle with boredom, depression; a dry well where flowing creativity should be. Continue reading
I always find a lot of great events around Boston, many of them book/writing-related. I always forget to invite people until the last minute, so have some Event Round-ups!
So here are some things on the calendar:
Bookbuilders Bowling Night
Where: Sacco’s Bowling Heaven in Davis Square
When: April 10th from 6-8pm
Cost: $6, and pre-register
Why?: Networking and bowling! Only $6. And bowling!
2012 was a mixed bag of some good and some devastating bad, but I believe the universe will do us a good turn and 2013 will be great. Here are some of my goals for the year of Lucky 13.
Go to the gym more. This is the traditional resolution for a reason. IT IS NECESSARY AFTER THE HOLIDAYS. Especially when you work in an office and there are cookies EVERYWHERE.
Learn how to use new technology. I got a space device touchscreen e-reader for Christmas. I asked for it so that I could read manuscripts without killing trees for my internship, but right now there are babies better at touch screens than me.
Save Money. Stick to my budget. Increase my biweekly deposit into my savings. Every time I resist the siren song of take out, “spend” the money it would have cost by putting it into savings.
Take risks. Yeah, I like having at least a day a week that I do nothing and talk to no one. I’m still happiest reading by myself, but its time to be bold. Go for every opportunity life presents. Drink, Celebrate life, Be merry. Continue reading
This week’s “Gearing up to Get an Agent” Blog hop challenge is to visit as many pitches as possible and critique and comment. I appreciate your help and critique and I’ll try to read as many other pitches as possible this week.
Author: Lauren M. Barrett
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Word count: 60,000
Query: Are you suffering from unprecedented misfortune? Do you find yourself suddenly spitting up gold coins? Ever spontaneously turn into an animal? Contact a Cursebreaker. Seventeen-year-old Morgan Crowley will kiss your curse away… for a fee. Continue reading
GUTGAA: The Beginning
A day late, as I always am in life, but I’m really excited to be participating in the “Gearing up to Get an Agent” blog hop this September. If you’re not already a part of it, you should join up. There may be agents trolling the linky list, but even if you don’t get an agent’s attention there is always great fun to be had in connecting with other writers.
On to the Meeting and Greeting
A little about me: I grew up in Plymouth, Land of the Pilgrims, and moved back to Boston for school where I’ve lived on and off for the past 8 years. I took a year off from Boston to teach English in Japan for a year, with excursions to South Korea and Singapore. I taught early childhood education for two years and just recently switched into work for an educational publishing company.
I’ve been writing, as most of you have, since I burst forth into being. Yes, before I was even old enough to hold a pen I was writing stories. I’ve only been seriously writing for a fraction of that time, but even now my writing isn’t very serious.
My genre is “funny fantasy” for young adults. The theory is that by entertaining myself, I will also entertain others. Whether it’s working or not, the point is that I enjoy it. Or I do when I’m not trying to rip my hair out staring at the endless list of plot holes I have to shore up before submission.
Where do you write?
I primarily write in cafés, and did an article not too long ago about how to get the most out of your café writing experience. When I do write at home I have a desk, but it’s covered in books and papers so there’s not a lot of room for a computer. Continue reading