On Sunday, July 16, 2017, 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. During the months of June and July we will be featuring our soon-to-be alumni as they look back on their time at Hamline University. Today’s featured grad is: Lily LaMotte. Lily lives in the Seattle area. Find Lily on Twitter @lilylamotte and online at Notewordies.com.

What do you do when you’re not working on packets? 

I have two children–one in college and one graduating from high school. Being a student again, we had a mutual world of assignments and due dates.
Just as I started the Hamline MFAC, my husband and I started a music and writing center. He teaches guitar, electric bass, piano, drums, and pedal steel guitar. I offer the space to the community for write-ins, critique groups, writing workshops. And, I hope to bring in faculty to teach advanced writing workshops next year.
I also volunteer. I am on the King County Library Foundation Gala committee. I’m very proud of the work we do. We raised $366,000 to support the library system including providing free meals to children during the summer reading programs and lending wifi hotspots to people who can’t afford internet and can’t get to the library to use the wifi there. These people are now able to apply for jobs online because of the lending program.
I also volunteer as a Seattle Opera artist aide. This year, I was assistant bartender at the cast parties. I thought that I might have to memorize cocktail recipes, fancying myself as a Tom Cruise wannabe. Alas there were no cocktails to be mixed. Next year, I am head bartender which only means that I have to get to the party early to set up the bar and keep track of inventory. My husband has graciously agreed to be my assistant bartender. I shall take advantage of his muscles–cases of wine are rather heavy. He might be in it for the drinks. Little does he know that we can’t drink on the job.

How did you hear about the Hamline MFAC Program?

My critique partner Ailynn Collins who graduated in January 2017 raved about the program after her first residency. Then our other critique partner Tina Hoggatt (also graduating this semester) applied and got in. When I heard that, I knew I had to join them in this wild, grand adventure.

What was your writing experience prior to entering the program?

Tina, Ailynn, and I met at a children’s writing class at our local community college many years ago. We’ve been writing and supporting each other ever since.

What do you especially remember about your first residency?

The weather was beautiful and the Hamline MFAC community was strong.

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 came into the program to finally learn how to finish a draft of a middle grade novel. My first semester advisor was Phyllis Root so of course I had to try writing picture books. I surprised myself by writing an all picture book creative thesis.

Tell us about your Creative Thesis.

I wrote an all picture book creative thesis with a broad range–from funny to serious and from land to sea. I mostly wrote animal characters but do have a couple of picture books with human characters. I experimented with rhythm although I didn’t touch rhyming.

What changes have you seen in your writing during your studies?

For one thing, my characters do far less sitting and thinking.

Any thoughts for entering students or for people considering the program?

I gained three major things in the Hamline MFAC program. The first was expected–learning advanced craft from master craft and literary artists. The second and third were wholly unexpected–gaining the habits of a professional writer and gaining a cohort who supported each other as we journeyed through the program and will continue to do so after graduation. I am grateful to each and every one of them.