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!

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