Creative Writing – Fiction MFA
Hi, I’m Sara, a second year Fiction graduate student at Columbia College working on my collection of short stories that revolve around the theme of family bonds. I’m originally from Texas and I’ve lived in Chicago since Aug ’15.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT YOU WERE DOING BEFORE YOU CAME TO COLUMBIA.
I completed my BA in English, with a minor in Creative Writing, from The University of Texas in Austin. I was part of a few literary journals on campus, and I also worked in a bookstore there (BookPeople, if you’re ever in the area, is a must-visit). In my senior year, I realized I had a lot of momentum in my writing and talked with my workshop professors about how an MFA might help me keep that momentum going. I researched programs and found myself drawn to the Midwest, and then to Chicago, and then right here to Columbia College. I had never lived outside of Texas, but I was ready for the change and everything that came with it. Before Columbia, no one had ever really encouraged me to send my work out to publications, or to even put forth as much effort into editing as I do now. In the year since I’ve been in the program, I’ve had two pieces of fiction accepted, two interviews published, and a handful of book reviews circulated online.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE COLUMBIA FOR YOUR GRADUATE STUDY?
I said before that I was drawn to the Midwest, and to be honest, it had a little to do with my boyfriend’s desire to go to Law School here, too. We searched for our respective schools in the Midwest together, but I can truthfully say I was meant to go here. I considered other programs carefully, but Columbia’s location in the heart of Chicago definitely weighed heavily in the “pro” column. The city is alive with creative inspiration, from Hyde Park, to the Loop, all the way up to Roger’s Park. One Google search later and “Things to do in Chicago” had me craving the city life. The other huge factor came from the program’s size. With less than ten people in my cohort, I knew we would be a tight-knit community of writers that would be working together and giving each other detailed and personal feedback that I value highly in terms of my work. Also in regard to the small program, I knew the professors (who have a laundry list of publications and awards that is almost reason enough to attend in itself) would be dedicated to and familiar with my work and my own progress. I was promised a committed enthusiasm to my passion as a writer, and I got it.
TELL US ABOUT A PROJECT YOU’RE WORKING ON THAT YOU’RE EXCITED ABOUT.
The goal is always to put the most time into my thesis, which is currently working its way to a short story collection that centers around the bonds between family, and what really makes someone family, anyway. I’ve loved exploring the ways in which “family” can bend and adapt to incorporate each and every definition. I come from a close family myself, so this project is very dear to me. // On the side, I’m working as the managing editor of a literary magazine, Arcturus, part of Chicago Review of Books, and it’s set to launch in September of 2016. Creating an online presence is demanding, but also rewarding, and I can’t wait to see the project come to life. Being on the other side of the submissions page will be quite interesting, too!