Last weekend I spent approximately 24 hours in front of my computer, blazing through a work for hire job that was past its deadline. I felt insane. Not because I didn’t enjoy the research, and not because I didn’t like putting information together in a fun and interesting way for young readers. I felt crazy because I was alone that whole time.
Writing is lonely. 9 times out of 10, it’s a solitary job. Yes, I am mostly an introvert, and I love my office with its soothing colors and “namaste” themes. But somewhere along those 24 hours of writing, I needed other people.
And you know, my people are as easy to find as a click to Facebook. Hamline’s MFAC program has a strong and steady Facebook group where we students and alums go, to ask questions, give feedback, blow off steam, and/or cry.
Hamline MFAC has an amazing community and a very special alumni group. I have three master’s degrees–I guess I enjoy owing thousands of dollars of student loan debt to the government. But I bring this point up because the only thing I’ve experienced from my other colleges in terms of alumni relations are letters asking for money. Maybe there are active alumni groups at my past places of education, but if they exist, I don’t know about them.
Hamline’s MFAC program is already amazing. What’s unique and even phenomenal is the Alumni community. This winter’s Alumni weekend—and remember, it’s January in Minnesota—drew 42 of us. Summer is usually bursting to the seams with alums. When I return for Alumni weekends, I joke to new students that we never go away. And you know why? Because of the community.
I’ve never known such a generous and open group of people. Writing tips are shared over meals, in between lectures and student readings, and late at night over root beer or wine. I feel comfortable going up to any small group, knowing they will welcome me. The support is immeasurable and necessary. We all get it. We all know that while we write alone, we succeed together.
Last weekend, when life had become nothing but keystrokes on my laptop and lots of footnotes in Chicago Style–just when I was on the brink of losing it–I reached out to the Facebook group. I reached out to make sure I wasn’t in a black hole. To just say hi and to feel some love. And you all gave it. And that makes everything worth it.
Jamie Kallio graduated from Hamline’s MFAC program in 2011. She is a librarian in the south suburbs of Chicago and is currently surviving the polar vortex with lots of wine and cyber connections. She is the author of many nonfiction books for children and a steadfast non-believer in Bigfoot.