On January 19, 2014, the final day of the upcoming residency, the MFAC program will have a Graduate Recognition ceremony, honoring the 11 men and women who have just completed their studies and will receive an MFA from Hamline University. Between now and residency, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, we’ll be posting interviews with each student. We begin with Ashley Lorentz of Minneapolis.

What do you do when you’re not working on packets?
I work as a Technical Recruiter to pay the bills as well as lots of fitness classes, cooking and working on my blog.
How did you hear about the Hamline MFAC Program?
Purely fate (at least in my opinion). I had put my writing on a major back burner…for years. I had recently written a picture book out of the blue and at the same time was sifting through Hamline’s Masters programs to try and figure out what I wanted to do next. I came across the MFAC Program and was shocked! What timing!? It was love ever since.
What was your writing experience prior to entering the program?
I had never done any formal training before the program, but I have been a prolific writer since I was about 6 years old (my parents still own my first book that my mom had to print while I dictated). I even had two pieces published before high school – one that I sold to a magazine for $10!
What do especially remember about your first residency?
A strong mix of feelings. On one side, I felt completely inadequate to everyone around me who had these amazing novels and years of experience, but on the other side, I have never felt as at home and completely inspired as I do surrounded by so many supportive people.
Have you focused on any one form (PB, novel, nonfiction; graphic novel) or age group in your writing? Tried a form you never thought you’d try?
I have been almost completely focused on picture books as that is where my passion seems to be, but I was really happy with how my critical thesis turned out and what I learned from it about the fictionalization of non-fiction information.
Tell us about your Creative Thesis.
I am working on perfecting 8 picture books. I am having so much fun!
What changes have you seen in your writing during your studies?
I truly feel that I am becoming better at seeing where I am missing plot points and tension and then revising accordingly. I really like how a lot of my manuscripts are evolving.
Any thoughts for entering students or for people considering the program?
If you are passionate about writing, even if you don’t think you are good enough, prolific enough, or experienced enough, YOU ARE. People here will cheer you on and restore your faith in your own writing. I promise.