My Stonecoast Experience (Part 1)

In May 2012, I graduated from Southern Methodist University with a Bachelor’s of Art in English, specializing in creative writing, and minoring in psychology.

About halfway through my stint at SMU, my Dad talked me out of majoring in psychology (he reminded me that I’m not a people person), so I was left without a plan beyond graduation.  Luckily, my adviser introduced me to the concept of low-residency MFAs.

I applied to five of the top ten programs.  At the time, I had little to no hope about getting in (I wasn’t very confident in my writing).  Of the five that I applied to, Stonecoast was the only one to offer popular fiction.  I had only ever really studied literary fiction, so I thought it might be a nice change of pace, but it wasn’t very high on my list of desired programs.  Of the three that accepted me, Stonecoast was my second choice.  However, this opinion quickly changed.  When I got the call, not even two weeks after I had sent in the application, I was shocked to say the least.  I was already feeling like a potential member of the Stonecoast family after that call.  Add to that the plethora of e-mails and phone calls from faculty and students and I was starting to believe that maybe this place really did want me.  When the acceptance packet came in the mail and it was purple (my favorite color), I was sold.

At my first residency, I had no idea what to expect.  The one thing I did know was that I wanted to hole up in a corner and treat it like every other school experience I had had.  Get in, get the degree, and get out.  My fellow Stonecoasters had other ideas.  They decided we needed to be friends, and since my Dad was with me, he needed to join us.

It was an experience like no other for me.  I was used to Texas, to Dallas, where people ignored my existence for the most part.  Being invisible was a super power I had grown to appreciate.  I don’t know if it was the weather or what, but in Maine, my super power didn’t work.  People expected me to socialize.  Me!  In all honesty, it was pretty damn creepy at first.  Then, it slowly dawned on me that I was making friends and that was kind of cool.

Aside from the weird socialization aspects, I had another new experience.  I learned things.  Throughout high school and community college and undergrad, I had grown accustomed to teaching myself.  It was extremely rare for me to come out of a class (except for Japanese) with that fulfilling notion that I had learned something useful.  At Stonecoast, I was learning things left and right.  Things that would improve my craft.  Things that would improve me as a person.  It was everything I was looking for that I didn’t know I wanted to find.

That was January 2013.  For the past two years, my experience at Stonecoast has continued to exceed expectations.  I’ve even reached a point where I can look at my work and admit that it isn’t horrible.  That’s a huge step for a writer.  One I couldn’t have taken without Stonecoast.

My time at Stonecoast is drawing to a close.  I will be graduating in January, which I have mixed feelings about.  I should be proud and happy to have come so far, yet it’s the first time I’ve ever felt sad to be leaving a school.  I will be exploring these feelings more after graduation, so look forward to that in February!

Next time, I’ll be discussing villains!  Come back and see me in January!



Hello!  As you may have gathered, my name is Shawna.  Rather than jump into an official blog post (whatever that may be), I thought I would take this opportunity to introduce myself a little less formally and a little more thoroughly than the website allows for.  I apologize in advance for any repeat information.

I am a writer, curently working on a supernatural YA novel.  I dabble in all genres, but my true love is horror.  Much of my work touches on the darker side of human nature.  I minored in psychology as an undergrad, which was when I developed an attraction towards the stranger psychological disorders.  Even my more fantastical stories tend to draw from such disorders.  I feel that even villains need to be human (not literally, of course), so I try to formulate a diagnosis to work with when creating them, even if it’s never mentioned on paper.  The psychology of different types of characters is something I will be exploring more in future posts.

I admit that I’m not as avid a reader as I should be, but hopefully that will change after I finish my MFA and actually have time to read.  I’m not picky when it comes to books.  I do prefer horror and fantasy and the like, but I’ll try anything once.  Please feel free to send me recommendations!  Occasionally, I will post a review of works that strike me in a particular way.

As far as the rest of my interests go, they are wide and varied.  I love all things Japanese: anime, manga, the food, the culture, etc.  Food and music (in general, not just Japanese) are two of my favorite things in the world.  I enjoy drawing as well.  Movies are fun, especially since I’ve taken a liking to writing screenplays.  Don’t be surprised if you spot a random post about any of these things and more (though I will try to keep them at a minimum and focus on writing related issues).

I think that’s enough about me for now.  Please, introduce yourself!  And look forward to a glimpse into my experience at Stonecoast (my MFA program).  That’s what’s coming up December 15th.