Chelsea Hansen
MFA Creative Writing: Fiction, 2nd year
Expected Graduation Spring 2018

Chelsea Hansen, in the computer lab working on her thesis.
Chelsea Hansen, in the computer lab working on her thesis.

What brought you to CSU?
I transferred to CSU in 2012 to finish my Bachelor’s Degree and returned in 2015 for my MFA. I was drawn to Colorado because it had similarities to my home state of Wyoming, while also being wholly different and giving me new experiences and nature to interact with. Coming back to CSU for my MFA was an easy choice: I liked the vast writing community and CSU’s ability to make me feel both at home and able to constantly find new things to interact with and discover.

Are you working on a thesis yet? If so, how’s that going?
I have started working on my thesis by giving chapters of it to my workshop. It’s a novel about two twin brothers, one living and one dead. As far as how it’s going, it mostly exists in colorful index cards that I reshuffle and spend way too much time looking at. But it is starting to exist in a physical place and not just as images in my head, so that’s something.

What classes are you taking this semester?
I have my fiction workshop, fiction form and technique, and teaching creative writing. All of them are different, yet focused on the process of writing, which I’ve loved this semester.

Favorite English class? Favorite English teacher? Favorite assignment or project?
I think my favorite English class will always be workshop. I like being able to see what fictional work is being imagined and created right now and by the people around me. I will always be partial to Leslee Becker, who’s been my advisor since I started my undergraduate degree in 2012. Her dedication to helping my work succeed and grow has always been unfathomably amazing to me. Roze Hentschell is also an admired professor of mine. In my undergrad, she let me write a paper about demonology for a Renaissance Literature class. In grad school, she allowed me to write a paper about Harry Potter for her Space and Place class. Both papers have easily been two of my favorite assignments during my academic career since they were a mix of both academia but also allowed me to write papers about really nerdy things I loved.

Why is it important to study English, the Humanities?
It’s important because life should be about much more than just getting a degree so you can get a job so you can make money to pay bills. The word “human” is in humanities, so there must be something profoundly “human” about studying and engaging with them. I feel most alive and grounded when I get to talk to others about a book, performance, or art. The work that comes out of English and Humanities are what tap into human emotion; they are why books make us cry or films can make us laugh, or how a theater show can make us feel connected to strangers.

Describe your work as Computer Lab manager. What is your favorite thing about it? What’s the most difficult thing about it?
I spend more time managing the computer lab employees than I do managing the computers. Sometimes I call IT in a mild panic. Other times I watch computers as they seem to obtain their own intelligences and do very, very odd things. I advise my employees that yes, they should definitely go see a doctor about that illness. My favorite thing about it is managing my employees. I’ve had most of them for almost a year and a half now, so even though I am their manager I care about them and their lives and schoolwork. I get to watch them succeed. They are all individual people from different colleges all across campus and they always tell me really good stories. I suppose the most difficult thing about it is how many strange crises can occur in a computer lab, usually when I’m not here. I had no idea that so many apocalyptic-level events could happen in a computer lab, but I suppose I’m now more equipped to deal with the strangeness that comes with living.

What has been your favorite moment at CSU?
Although I have many excellent moments from my MFA time so far, I think my favorite one would have to be when my older sister got her Master’s Degree from CSU the same day I received my Bachelor’s. It was very special for us to graduate from the same place together.

Chelsea and her sister at graduation
Chelsea and her sister at graduation

Describe Eddy in one word.
All-consuming. (I guess that’s two words. But given that I work here as well as all of my classes are here, I never see the rest of campus. What’s out there in the CSU world?)

Do you have a favorite book or author?
As with most writers, I have a lot of favorite authors and books. So I try to offer a different favorite book every time I come across this question. So this time I will say my favorite book is Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. It’s a gorgeous mix of science fiction and dystopia. If you don’t like science fiction, this book will make you like science fiction after you read it.

Do you have any advice for English majors? For writers?

The best advice for English majors that I have is to get yourself as embedded in the English and literary world as possible. Look around for people who have careers in English that you may want. Remember that your degree does and will have value; no matter what anyone else says, the world definitely is not wholly made of business and engineering degrees. There are lots of things you can do, you just have to put in the effort of getting out there and finding them.

I have a magnet in the middle of my fridge that says, “Even if it’s crap, just get it on the page.” I put it on the middle of my fridge so I have to read it every time I’m scouring around for food during my writing time. It’s okay to produce some really bad writing; that’s what first drafts are for. And until you have that first draft, you can’t really mold it into the space you want it to be. Read things that inspire you to keep hitting the keyboard. Writing is a process, but it’s a process that can’t start until you fill up that blank page with something.

What’s your biggest priority right now?
My larger priority right now is to write my elusive thesis. Which sounds pretty typical, but it consumes so much of my writing thoughts it’s getting hard to separate the rest of my life from it. My immediate priority is to not get lost in an airport over the winter break. I’m traveling for the entire month and have four one-way plane tickets that will take me to seven different airports. But I’m sure I will encounter some interesting characters in them.

Where will we find you in five years?
Most likely on the west coast somewhere, hopefully doing something in the publishing world. I look forward to finding out whatever that is.