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 Tina Kim. She lives in Los Angeles, CA.

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

Ideally, I wanted to read and write but often times, I found myself zoning out to Chef’s Table and serial killer docs, eating excessive amounts of mac and cheese. 

How did you hear about the Hamline MFAC Program?

I researched online for children’s writing programs.

What was your writing experience prior to entering the program?

I always wrote as a kid– stories about witches, Korean drama fan-fic, angsty poetry, etc. In college, I took elective writing classes and had my first workshop experience. I’d never felt so diminished– and I was an art major getting critiqued every week! I stopped writing. A few years ago, stories started popping up in my head again so I began taking university extension courses in children’s lit. When I ran out of courses, I applied to Hamline.

What do you especially remember about your first residency?

Being a nervous wreck! I didn’t know how I was going to survive the intensity of lectures, workshops, AND socialize all at the same time. But everyone was so nice and encouraging. I didn’t know much about the children’s lit community but by the halfway mark of residency, I was taken. And I was proud of making it out alive without having gone completely bonkers. My cohort, The Headless Gods, played a huge role in keeping me sane.

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 came in with a middle grade and thought I’d stay in that realm because prior to the start of the program, I discovered that I LOVED middle grade. I felt like MG was my other half and this was where I wanted to be forever. I had written YA but it grew intimidating to me as time went on. I was going to stay far, far away from YA. 

Tell us about your Creative Thesis.

It is a contemporary YA. (Lesson learned: never say never).

Golden Hour is a story about stunted grief, a family in isolation, and a girl who’s memories of her older brother stop her from moving on with her life. Things get more complicated when her brother’s best friend comes back to town– he also happens to be the protagonist’s unrequited love. I wanted to tell a story about how loss and old memories affect the present circumstances and relationships. 

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

I am not afraid to cut words. Yay! I was surprised that I could throw out entire chapters without feeling super attached to them. I found that if those words didn’t serve the story, they weren’t the right words.

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

This is one of my favorite, favorite quotes of all time and I think it fits perfectly for anyone who has doubts/ fears about taking the leap: “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.”– Georgia O’Keefe