On Sunday, July 17, 2016 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 month of June we will be featuring our soon-to-be alumni as they look back on their time at Hamline University. Today’s new graduate is Mary McFetridge.
What do you do when you’re not working on packets?
I’m pretty dull. Not like And Now Miguel dull, but close. I teach English at a public high school, savor time with my sweet mom, and try to keep my dog happy.
How did you hear about the Hamline MFAC Program?
I took a “Teachers as Writers” class that was co-taught by Claire Rudolph Murphy. She suggested Hamline.
What was your writing experience prior to entering the program?
I liked writing, and we hung out, but we didn’t get serious about each other until Hamline.
What do you remember most about your first residency?
It was overwhelming, in a good way. I remember work shopping with Gary Schmidt and Jackie Briggs Martin was totally intimidating, pretty surreal, and ultimately, awesome. I remember Kristi Romo was super nice and took me to lunch off campus. I remember I thought a Piper was a bird. And Vera B. Williams said when you write you can create the neighborhood you want to live in.
Have you focused on any one form (picture book, novel, nonfiction, graphic novel) or age group in your writing? Did you try a form you never thought you’d try?
Nope. I tried whatever was suggested by my faculty advisor.
Tell us about your Creative Thesis.
It’s first person, real world, on the young end of YA, about a quirky, high school freshman, in Alaska, who is getting new adults in her life.
What changes have you seen in your writing during your studies?
The big ones are that I’m writing with an audience in mind, and I’m much more apt to keep carving at things – rather than consider something “done.” My perspective on culture, race, privilege, the intersection of words and power, has grown exponentially. My tools have increased so much that my pre-Hamline writing is pretty humbling, actually.
Any advice for entering students or for people considering the program?
Entering students: Enjoy the packet deadlines, deadlines are a good thing, they just mean someone is waiting for your writing. Let who you will work with be the least of your concerns. There is no wrong answer there. If you’re considering the program, come check it out!
It's good to hear your voice here, Mary.
Sorry we were intimidating. It's a word I never think to apply to myself.
I remember you asked me how workshop was going, and I said, good, I'm nervous, but it's really good. And your response was, "How can I help you not be nervous? We don't want you nervous. When you're nervous, your right and left brain can't interact as well. It's harder to learn. We want you comfortable." That totally changed the way I teach. Seriously. I now make it part of my meeting students first day to say "I want you comfortable."
Found a typo. Not the place to memorialize bad spelling.
Congrats to you, Mary. So proud of your journey since we met in Alaska many years ago. None of us in the MFAC community will ever forget your powerful lecture last January. Thank you for sharing so deeply.