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: Tina Hoggatt. Tina lives in Issaquah, Washington. Find Tina at tinahoggatt.com and @tinahoggatt Twitter & Instagram.
What do you do when you’re not working on packets?
Wait, you have the option of not working on your packets?
I have a visual art practice and I try to spend regular time in the studio although the MFA work has dominated my time for the last few years. In truth, it’s hard to run both practices at once but with the MFA work I feel I’m getting closer to managing an integrated practice with more success. I’m moving the visual work into illustration with a goal of writing and illustrating books.
We have a big garden that takes intensive time right about now, will flourish and quickly become overgrown by July, and for the rest of the season will be weeded (at least by me) only where you can see it from the house.
I recently ended my tenure on the advisory committee for the Western Washington chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, working on illustrator exhibits, the annual conference (now every other year) and as illustrator coordinator for several years. I highly recommend joining and participating in SCBWI. It’s a marvelous, all-volunteer, international organization filled with people who want you to succeed.
AND I have a swell husband, two very grown up children, and two grandchildren who I am lucky enough to hang with on a regular basis. We have two cats, one dog, and four obtuse chickens.
How did you hear about the Hamline MFAC Program?
The lovely and talented writer Ailynn Collins (January, 2017 graduate of the program) is in my critique group. She got into the program after a workshop at Highlights where she met Anne Ursu and Laura Ruby, and encouraged me as well as Lily LaMotte to apply. Lily and I will graduate together and are psyched that Anne Cunningham, a fourth member of our group, is returning to the program this summer.
What was your writing experience prior to entering the program?
I worked on writing novels for young readers on my own, through NaNoWriMo, at SCBWI workshops, conferences, and retreats, took online and IRL classes, and participated in regular critique groups. I also did a lot of writing for the web and educational materials through my job at a local non-profit arts funder.
What do you especially remember about your first residency?
The excitement and pleasure of my first residency was broken by a controversial lecture by Jane Resh Thomas, then faculty member, and its aftermath. Ultimately the fallout helped reset the program’s priorities and deepen my experience at Hamline.
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 worked with three picture book authors, Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Claire Rudolph Murphy, and Phyllis Root in my first three semesters. I wanted to work on both picture books and a novel during my time in the program and did both with all three. Because of Claire’s expertise I ventured into nonfiction, and with all of their input on the novel I started first semester I was ready to work on its completion with Marsha Qualey during my last semester.
Tell us about your Creative Thesis.
Piper in the Middle is a middle grade historical novel that takes place in the aftermath of Bobby Kennedy’s assassination in 1968. It’s a family story of travel, nature, birth, death, secrets, and finding one’s place in both family and childhood.
What changes have you seen in your writing during your studies?
I’m a better, more concise storyteller. I have a firmer grasp on the picture book and novel forms, something I’d hoped for, and am not wholly overwhelmed at managing a complete novel. Due to the terrifying regularity of packet deadlines my writing practice has been much stronger over the last few years.
Any thoughts for entering students or for people considering the program?
If you have the money and time to swing it, and if you want to take the next step in your creative work and towards teaching opportunities, you should apply. Shrug off some hours of your regular job if possible so that you can concentrate on reading and writing. Get a jump on the required reading list! At Hamline you will work with some of the shining lights of the industry and you will gain a circle of friends in your fellow writers who will help you through the challenges and triumphs of the program and beyond. Go for it.