I Graduated RWW!

Well, I finally did it. I completed my MFA in Creative Writing from the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University!

It’s weird to think that I’ve been in the higher education atmosphere for . . . eight years? After having some sort of school structure/routine for that long, it feels odd to suddenly be completely done now. My three years of RWW reached a bitter-sweet end this summer. As of July 31st, I am officially a Master!

And what a journey to get there. I applied to PLU for my undergrad education with the specific goal in mind of eventually applying to become an RWW student. In a lot of ways, I feel like the past five or so years have been leading up to this. But I could never have anticipated the ways that RWW would change the way I think and write.

I always speak highly of RWW because (I’ve said it before a million times and I’ll say it again and again) my writing has grown exponentially throughout my RWW experience. I entered the program with a passion for writing and some experience doing it well (though not nearly as well as I would have liked to tell myself). Throughout the program, I’ve relearned how to love my craft and can now look at my writing pieces from a new angle every time.

I owe most of this to my RWW mentors, whom I love and will always admire greatly: April Ayers Lawson, Renee Simms, and Sequoia Nagamatsu. They each challenged me in unique ways, and each gave their own particular brand of encouragement. Not once did I ever feel lost or discouraged!

With April, I learned how to analyze and pick apart stories with a fine-toothed comb and how to utilize details in my own writing. With Renee, we focused a lot on seeing the bigger picture, especially in terms of story structure and all the fun things we can do with it. And Sequoia gave me such amazing direction, especially for stories that, in their early drafts, just weren’t going anywhere. I love, love, love these three as teachers, as writers, and as people; they’ve really helped me to grow (probably more than they realize).

But there’s more! The amazing lectures, classes, and readings during RWW summer residencies are always illuminating. Within those 10 days, I always feel like cramming as much information as I can into my skull (and hope to retain it until the next year). The fantastic writers that I’ve met through RWW make me smile so much. I can’t believe I get to be surrounded by so much talent!

Especially my comrades in Cohort 16 — go us!

I can’t wait to attend next year’s residency (even though I’ve graduated already) as a visitor, schedule permitting. Every new year brings in a new cohort of wide-eyed and talented writers, and RWW is one of the most supportive places for writers to be.

As I look back on all the work it took to earn this degree, I almost can’t believe that the same person who hid from people in undergrad is the same person who gave a presentation on magical objects in front of her fellow students and several faculty members — and the same person who stood in front of a room full of people and gave a 10-minute formal reading with actual confidence. That’s the first time I have ever felt comfortable reading in front of an audience. Here’s hoping there will be more readings to come!

It’s been a wild ride. Since beginning RWW, I’ve published three short stories, so I assume I’m going in the right direction! This program is the most fun I’ve ever had during school, and while I am relieved to be finished with the accomplishment, I’m a little sad that it’s over. Time to start the next chapter of my writing life and hope that it’s just as joyful and fun-filled as the last!

All this is just to give a little writing life update (and perhaps provide an explanation/excuse for my absence during the last few months). I’m exhausted but well-stuffed with delicious writing advice, encouragement, and knowledge. Some of which I’ll be sharing very soon: keep your eyes open for a recommendation list full of the books I read for/during RWW and what can be learned from them, somewhere down the line.

That’s all I got. (っ^▿^)💨 Until next time!

Photo by Shayna Douglas on Unsplash