On Sunday, July 21, 2019, 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 Sarah Faye Wilson. She lives in Dallas, Texas. Follow her on Twitter.

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

I spend a lot of time with my friends and family, and quite honestly a lot of time at my local Starbucks. The people there have been so amazing and my own personal cheerleaders as I’ve worked on this program. I volunteer at my church, Cathedral of Hope. I also teach middle school English, Reading, and Yearbook and sponsor the Gay/ Straight Alliance and a Magic the Gathering Club. 

How did you hear about the Hamline MFAC Program? 

I heard about the MFAC program while attending AWP Minneapolis. I had just completed a YA course in another MFA program, but that program didn’t feel like home. In that YA course we read Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese and Anne Ursu’s Breadcrumbs. I was amazed by both books, and was super excited to go to a panel with Anne. That’s when I met her and Laura Ruby, saw the excitement of their students and alumni, and knew I had to check out the program. Choosing to come to Hamline and leave my other program was one of the best decisions I have ever made. 

What was your writing experience prior to entering the program? 

I have a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Central Arkansas. While there I was Editor-in-Chief of The Vortex Magazine of Literature and Fine Art, named Arkansas Collegiate Media Association’s Magazine Editor of the Year, published a short story, “The Therapist”, in Polaris: An Undergraduate Journal of Arts & Literature, and received  an honorable mention from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association Awards in Fiction for my piece “Equality”. My goal in the program, though, was to complete a novel, something I had never done before. And with the help of my amazing advisors, that’s what I did. 

What do especially remember about your first residency? 

I was so overwhelmed by how amazingly nice everyone is here. It was this magical pocket of time and space where everyone was interested in all the things I am, and everyone was just excited to be there. It really made all the work feel like it was worth it and pumped me up for the program. 

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 focused mainly in Contemporary Young Adult during the semesters, but I also had the opportunity to work on a YA Graphic Novel that I am super excited about!

Tell us about your Creative Thesis. 

Ignatia “Iggy” Yoder is happy. She’s in the race to be valedictorian, captain of the softball team, and has her perfect girlfriend. Iggy knows where her life is going until her mother shows up. After abandoning Iggy five years ago, Iggy’s mom is back and needs her to be in her wedding. With the threat of destroying the world Iggy has created, Iggy finds herself pretending to be the daughter her mother always wanted.

This is actually the novel that I have worked on throughout all four semesters at Hamline, but the book has evolved so much over time. In fact, the only things still intact from my first semester version is the main character and the setting. It’s also always been an LGBT centered book. I’ve had the privilege to work with so many amazing advisors on this piece who let me try and try and try again to get the story Iggy wanted to be told on paper. And through all those trials, I’ve taken away so much. Each version like a new lesson. 

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

It’s just so much better. I am more concise, more aware of timelines and making sure those are known, finding the heart of the story, really focusing on what my characters’ wants and needs are, etc. 

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

Love very minute and do everything. Residency is so tiring, and it’s important to take care of yourself.