On Sunday, January 15, 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 December and January we will be featuring our soon-to-be alumni as they look back on their time at Hamline University. Today’s new graduate is Pat McCaw.
What do you do when you’re not working on packets?
Currently I try to find a balance between my medical practice, writing, and spending as much time as possible with my family. My husband, Ryan, has always been supportive of my writing efforts and I want to be involved in my daughters Lily, 13, and Sydney, 10, lives in every possible way. I have been my daughter’s scout leaders, helped coach their teams and helped with clubs, we are the ultimate crafters, and my goal is to be the coolest mom of all their friends. Hee hee. I love to travel and photography. The National parks hold great beauty and history and our family wants to get to them all. Favorites so far are Mesa Verde, the Redwoods, and Yellowstone.
Since I love travel, photography, writing – my dream would be to take my family and travel the world and capture the images of the landscapes, hiking with my family and writing about our adventures – but since nobody has offered to fund such a life – I may stick with this doctoring
How did you hear about the Hamline MFAC Program?
I learned about Hamline MFAC from colleagues and former graduates in SCBWI and it has been like being adopted into another family. I needed direction and polishing of my writing skills and needed to know how to edit and revise my own work.
What was your writing experience prior to entering the program?
My journey to Hamline started in the last five years. I had been practicing family medicine for 16 years and then a good friend encouraged me to write a novel for nanowrimo. A middle grade fantasy came pouring out as my insides bubbled and I smiled the entire time I wrote. I knew I must return to my previous passion for writing that I had tabled many years ago.
What do remember most about your first residency?
The best thing I learned is to look at everything you write as only one of many drafts. Now I’m not afraid to rip a novel or manuscript to shreds knowing that when it is put back together, it can only be better. My classmates are my soul mates and know parts of me better than many others – and I love them dearly.
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?
I don’t focus on one form of writing. My voice tends toward middle grade, and I can hear and feel my daughters and the stories we told at bedtime. I lean toward fantasy most often. I also enjoy writing a first person YA voice with angst and sass, my inner smart ass tends to shine on those pages. Picture books allow my fun imagination and ideas a place to explore as well.
Tell us about your Creative Thesis.
My creative thesis, The Witch on the Wall, is a MG fantasy about Payton, a science geek who battles her logic against her imagination, as she discovers the new portrait her mother bought at an estate sale contains a 16th century witch.
What changes have you seen in your writing during your studies?
My Hamline experience has shaped me into a MUCH better writer than I could ever have imagined. I cringe looking at some of my previous work and will always refer to it as pre-Hamline.
Any advice for entering students or for people considering the program?
Anyone wanting to find their inner writer and develop their skills should go to this program, and the most appreciated aspect is the respect for one’s individuality and input. I don’t want to leave the program and feel part of me will be left in Minnesota after I’m done.
Congrats to you, Pat. You have worked so hard and been a wonderful member of the Hamline MFAC community. I look forward to meeting your family.