Welcome to the Creative Writing Blog for Seattle University!

Hi, Everybody! I'm Sharon Cumberland, the Director of Seattle U's Creative Writing Program. I'm starting this blog so that our English majors--both CW and Lit--will know what's going on in the program--our readings, our trips to the opera, our free "Writer's Chronicles"--as well as getting information about our successful grads and their publications. This will be the place for faculty, students, alums and friends of the program to talk to each other, find out what's up,and talk about craft. Come join us!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year's Eve--A Writer's Resolutions

The custom of making a New Year's Resolution can be fraught with anxiety for writers--can I make up for all the writing I didn't do last year? Will I be able to write regularly this year? Will I find a publisher, a writing group, a class, a mentor? Am I dreaming? What's a realistic goal?

My take on this problem is based on the research that says you get more accomplished if you work on your writing for 20 minutes each day than if you wait for a block of time to sit down and do a huge push. That's not to say that NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month in November) isn't a productive exercise, but forcing yourself to write 20-30 minutes per day keeps the pump primed. As one of my teachers, Skye Moody, says "If you sit down in the same place every day, the Muse will know where to find you."

What works best for me is having a weekly writing group. The Greenwood Poets are in their eighth year of meeting every week for two hours (they're mostly retired--those of us still laboring in the vineyards work our schedule around to make the time). So every Tuesday morning I say "OMG! I don't have a poem for the group!" and then I sit down and write one, or revise the one I brought in last week. This has caused me to produce a LOT of poetry over the last eight years. So I'm an example of someone who does well with a weekly writing session rather than a daily writing session. It's all I can manage at this point, but it's been enough to get the work out.

So what's my resolution? I have all my writing projects listed on a white board in my office. I resolve to work on each project steadily through the year--look at the board daily, decide on priorities, noodle away at the things that seem alive and current. I have one hope (I don't dare to make it a resolution) and that is that after my poetry book is out in October (Peculiar Honors, Black Heron Press) that I can return to my long-abandoned-but-much-thought-about novel.

What's your New Year's Resolution? Tell the rest of us--sharing a resolution helps you to keep it!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

CW Grads, Abby Murray and Lish McBride, publish a poetry chapbook and a YA novel

I had lunch with two of CW's star alums yesterday--poet Abby Murray and YA novelist Lish McBride. We caught up over fake sweet and sour chicken at Bamboo Gardens. Abby brought me a jar of home made strawberry-alcohol jam for Christmas, and Lish brought me a big container of homemade eggnog snickerdoodle cookies. I gave them my latest batch of poems in the current Floating Bridge Review 3 and brought Abby a Box of Hope (hope not included) and Lish a bar of Wash your Soul Clean soap (both re-gifted from Fr. Josef Venker, S.J.--chair of SU's Fine Arts Department-- who receives more corny religious stuff than the ordinary priest). Given the fact that Abby is a poet (God knows, we poets need hope) and Lish is riding the great wave of interest in fiction of the occult (and may be spoiled rotten with advances, movie deals, etc.) the re-gifts seemed appropriate.

Abby lives in Denver now that her husband Tom is posted to Iraq, and teaches writing, conducts a reading series, and continues working on her own successful poetry. She graduated from SU's Creative Writing program in 2005 and got her MFA from Pacific University, Oregon. Her chapbook, "Me & Coyote," was chosen by Marvin Bell for the Lost Horse New Poets Series and is the featured first collection.

Lish came to SU's Creative Writing program as transfer student, graduated with Abby in 2005 and got her MFA at the University of New Orleans. Now she's got a five-star YA novel climbing the charts--no less a judge than Sherman Alexie says "This is a funny scary book, or a scary funny book. In either case, it's a GREAT book. I love it!" Lish lives in town--we'll be having her on our E2 Reading series at Elliott Bay soon, so stay tuned.

Check out Abby and Lish's books on Amazon below:



Come get your Writer's Chronicles!

Greetings, majors, minors, tout le monde:

Here's how membership in the Associated Writer's Programs (AWP) works: You say how many majors your have in your program (we have over 100 so I said "100" to be conservative), you pay them your millions (several hundred dollars for a program our size) and you get lots of good benefits-- access to their website with all kinds of professional data and information--but most of all you get The Writer's Chronicle which is their very good magazine full of interesting articles, advice to writers, and deadlines for contests and submissions, as well as lots of ads for writing programs all over the country and the world. Nifty, yes?

Well, what I didn't realize is that they'd send enough Chronicles for all our 100+ CW majors, and that the magazine comes out with frightening regularity. When they started arriving last term in brown boxes I felt like the Sorcerer's Apprentice--no sooner would I unload one heap of magazines onto all the flat surfaces in the English Department, then another set of brown boxes would appear with another hundred magazines--and these are LARGE FORMAT magazines!

So PLEASE come get your Writer's Chronicles--English majors, English minors--Lit, CW, there's enough for everyone! The current number has articles by Cornelius Eady, a very exciting African American poet and novelist, Maxine Kumin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning formalist poet, as well as an article about creative  non-fiction by Seattle native Susan Detweiler--along with all kinds of useful information on getting your work published.

Come by and say Hi when you get your Chronicle--I'm in Casey 510, the office surrounded by stacks of brown boxes.