On Sunday, July 15, 2018, Hamline’s Creative Writing Programs will host a Graduate Recognition ceremony to honor all the students who have completed their studies and will be receiving an MFA from Hamline University.
We will be featuring our soon-to-be alumni as they look back on their time at Hamline University. Today’s new graduate is Elizabeth Selin. She lives in Minneapolis, MN.
What do you do when you’re not working on packets?
I’m checking out local craft beer establishments with friends, obsessing over standup comedy, and wondering why I bother buying white clothes because I always spill Ketchup on them.
How did you hear about the Hamline MFAC Program?
A friend who was in the BFA program encouraged me to check it out, so I went to prospective student day. I loved the energy and sense of community in the lecture hall that day, and I went home and started the application immediately.
What was your writing experience prior to entering the program?
My fifth grade teacher cut a pomegranate in half and told us to write about it. That’s when I first decided to be a writer. I wrote my first novel in ninth grade for NaNoWriMo. I’ve written one almost every year since then just for fun. A few years ago, I started ghostwriting for a few different e-publishers, which was kind of like having a marginally paid internship. I learned a ton about writing very quickly, but eventually I hit a wall and realized that to make further improvement on my writing, I needed to slow down and focus on my craft and on my own projects. So I visited Hamline.
What do you especially remember about your first residency?
Pokémon Go came out that week, and all these strange nerdy introverts were wandering around campus catching ’em all with their phones.
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?
During my first semester, I tried a bunch of different forms: picture books, poetry, graphic novel scripting, and a middle grade novel. Second semester I worked on revising the middle grade novel. Third semester I wrote 45,000 words of a contemporary YA. At the beginning of my final semester, I deleted all 45,000 words and started again on the YA novel.
Tell us about your Creative Thesis.
I owe my creative thesis project to my brilliant cohort. We were goofing off in Anderson during residency two, and I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but at one point I said, “What if I named a protagonist Puberty?” and instead of telling me this was a terrible idea, they all chimed in with further ideas for this absurdist YA erotica.
Long story short, it’s no longer an absurdist erotica. It’s about a high school senior, Berty, whose father gets busted and imprisoned for embezzling from the garden hose nozzle manufacturing plant in town. As a result, more than half of the people in town lose their jobs, and Berty’s friends and classmates blame her for it. Suddenly senior year is no longer a question of whether Hot Byrne with his glorious man bun will finally notice her and ask her out but whether she will make it through the school year without being Bubble-Yummed to the bottom of the pool and drowned in fruit punch.
What changes have you seen in your writing during your studies?
I finally wrote an ending in which I didn’t accidentally go off the rails and spontaneously murder characters or have them stumble on a time machine and visit Victorian England for no reason in the last chapter.
Any thoughts for entering students or for people considering the program?
Do it. If you’re serious about writing or want to be, the MFAC program is an incredibly nurturing environment, and you’ll have a writing community cheering for you for life.