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MFA Confidential Blog

An MFA Student's 2011 Writing Resolutions

Last week I made a list of writing-related things I’m grateful for that happened in 2010. Now that we are two days into the new year, my next list is writing-related resolutions … Read more

What I'm Grateful For

I know it’s a cliché, but I just cannot believe 2010 is already coming to an end. Since New Year’s is a time for list-making, I am going to make a list … Read more

Keeping Motivated Over the Semester Break

The question at the beginning of every semester break is how much writing you’ll be doing in relation to how much you’ve promised yourself you’ll do. Lucky for me, I’m a teacher, … Read more

Last Class

I always love the last week of the semester because we spend the entire class reading student work. Throughout the semester, all of our classes are conducted in the same format: the … Read more

The First Time I Ever Got Published

Every writer remembers the first time they get their work published. It happened to me at the end of grammar school, when Nick Popovic [note: all names have been changed] and I … Read more

A Thank You to my Teachers

In this month’s issue of WD, Dinty W. Moore, in his article “MFA Insider” writes about the importance of finding a mentor in your MFA program, and extends his thanks to the … Read more

I Finished the Steeplechase!

It took all semester to chip away at it, but the last step of my Steeplechase is finally complete! Just over forty pages, it consists of eleven successive scenes of story, each … Read more

The Rewrite Process

We have three weeks of the semester left, and I’m feeling that end-of-semester paradox of being completely burned out but also stunned at how fast it’s gone. The last few weeks before … Read more

Am I a Hipster?

I’ve spent a lot of time this week with my sister, who’s home for Thanksgiving, and the other day she asked me a question that I’ve been pondering for a few days … Read more

Carpal Tunnel?

Last summer, I started experiencing numbness and loss of control in my hands and fingers. I was worried, and since my medical expertise was limited to the dissection of a fetal pig … Read more

Come Home Chicago–A Guest Blog

Hi everyone! Last month, I talked about one of Chicago’s best literary events, Come Home Chicago, founded by Columbia’s own Matt Martin and Don De Grazia. Tonight marks the one year anniversary … Read more

Why the MFA?

This morning I woke up early, knocked out two more steps of my steeplechase (only two more to go, and this story keeps getting weirder), then drove through the pouring rain to … Read more

Emailing With Stuart

A few weeks ago, I had to do a presentation in my CRW class about a short story writer who I admire. I immediately thought of Stuart Dybek, one of my favorite … Read more

Just Turn It In!

Like most writers I know, I can be sort of a perfectionist. I don’t like to turn in work for class until I’ve revised and revised until I can’t revise anymore. I’m … Read more

The Legacy of Eileen

Last Friday, after years of trying to fight her illness, a beloved member of my dad’s family, Eileen Gillespie, passed away. After the wake, many of us went to the bar, and … Read more

Thesis Hours!

Just left my advising appointment for next semester’s classes and even though I had my questions answered, I am starting to panic about thesis hours. Thesis hours! Six little credit hours that … Read more

The Balancing Act

Well, we’ve reached the saggy middle of the semester, when people (or at least me) begin to feel completely overwhelmed. The three factors of work, school, and life are not meshing together … Read more

Creative Non-Fiction?

This week is Creative Non-Fiction Week at Columbia, which features readings and panel discussions with writers in the genre who work in various media outlets. Creative Non-Fiction has been called “the fourth … Read more

Reading Like a Writer

I majored in English as an undergrad, and now I teach high school English, so I am pretty well-trained in squeezing an obscure meaning out of a text, finding the symbols and … Read more

Reading Aloud

This week, we spent almost all of the 4.5 hours of my Tuesday night class sharing our writing. It always amazes me how much unspoken feedback you can get just from noticing the atmosphere in the … Read more

The Follow-Through

The atmosphere in the St. Viator’s gym was electric. There were twenty seconds left on the clock, we were losing 21-20 (a fairly high score in the world of seventh grade girls’ … Read more

Surviving the MFA

Most of the people in my advanced fiction class are in their third year, so the other night my teacher asked us to give him our top three survival strategies for making … Read more

Procrastination and cocktails!

I haven’t started my Steeplechase assignment yet. I’ve pondered it a great deal, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to actually start writing. Today I’m going to use this forum … Read more

The Scariest Assignment…

Well, it’s been assigned: The Steeplechase, quite possibly the most polarizing assignment in my MFA program. It’s a requirement for completion of an advanced fiction class, and since this is my second … Read more

Where Do You Find Your Inspiration?

This past summer, I spent some time in Ireland visiting a friend. He took me to Bray, a small town in County Wicklow, to do a coastal walk along the Irish Sea. … Read more

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