Residency Recap, or, What I Learned This Time at Seton Hill

15 Jan

I’m currently enrolled in the Writing Popular Fiction MFA program at Seton Hill University, which is awesome and wonderful and I love it. A big part of the program are these biannual, 5-day long residencies, where we go onto campus and stuff our brains full of writing information, inspiration, fun, and caffeine.

Here are some of the big things I learned from this last residency:

1.  It’s not as cold in Pittsburgh as it is in Chicago, but close.

2.  Don’t chase trends, or write to a formula, but do give readers and editors some familiar ground to start from, the basic chord progression, and from there, innovate and riff like crazy.

3.  Start promoting yourself even before you’re published, because once you have a contract, you’re going to be super busy. Like super busy. I’m a little nervous about that.

4.  There are surprises in Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back for someone who has never seen it before. Also, it’s really fun to watch someone watch those movies for the first time. (also also, I need to memorize the Greedo and Jabba scenes so I can translate better next time the subtitles don’t work).

5.  I learned the difference between villains and antagonists, and that it’s handy to have both. (Villians are total evil, while antagonists are just in the protagonist’s way. Villains are antagonists, but antagonists aren’t necessarily villains. All of Alma Cogan is dead, but only some of the class of dead people are Alma Cogan. Ecce homo, ergo elk.)

6.  Google Maps is good for the long highway stretches “in a quarter mile, take exit 62,” but when you get into complicated, quick turns, it gives confusing directions (it doesn’t help that there are no straight roads in Pittsburgh)

Of course, there was more than that, but my brain hasn’t recongealed yet.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to fall asleep face-down in my dinner.

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