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 Laura King. She lives in Sacramento, California.

From Laura:

When I’m not working on packets, I spend time with my daughter, and when I’m lucky, I see my college age sons. I love my dogs and I feed a cat that stays in our backyard. And I help my husband run a nut farm!

I heard about the Hamline MFAC program when I was looking online for writing courses. I knew I wanted to write, and I knew I had a lot to learn. I needed help, and I trusted that Hamline could help. I wasn’t disappointed.

Before Hamline, I wrote rhyming picture books. The first one was called, “Christopher King You’re So Tall!” It was about my tall son, and the fact that people always assume that he plays basketball. The next one was called “Melody Knight, Are You Black or White?” about a bi-racial character that was based on my daughter, and questions that we had directed toward us because we don’t have the same color skin. I’m still proud of these little stories because they served as the catalyst for my quest to learn and grow as a writer.

What I remember about my first residency is that I almost quit. My first workshop experience was painful. I felt like a dolt. I was in over my head, and I was sure that everyone was supposed to be there but me. Phyllis Root talked me off the cliff, but I was still prepared to pack my bags to go home. I went out to dinner, and when I exited the restaurant, the advertisement on the bus stop in front of the restaurant had a picture of John Wayne, and the caption read, “I don’t care much for quitters.” I took it as a message from God, stayed in the program, and never looked back.

What’s amazed me most is what I’ve tried in this program. I told everyone during that first residency that I was at Hamline to learn to write picture books. Since then, I’ve written three novels, ten picture books, a book of poetry and a short story. I never planned to write anything but picture books, but I’m glad I did!

My Creative Thesis is called, “A Rainbow Over Broadway”. It is about a 16 year old girl growing up in New York City in 1989, during the time when there was no cure for AIDS. I was a pastor in New York at that time, and helped a lot of people who were suffering. I helped many people die, and we held funerals. I always wanted to write about this time in my life, but didn’t know how to fit it into a program for writing for children. One of my friends in the program said, “Throw a kid in there.” And that’s how my protagonist, Grace Foster, came into being. I’m very proud of this project, especially because I’ve completely re-written it three times.

How has my writing changed?

My writing includes more active verbs.

I would encourage anyone entering this program to have an open mind and try everything. I know–that all sounds like a cliche. But that is my advice. You might surprise yourself if you get out of your own way.