~from Katie Haggstrom
Name: Alice Stopher
Program: Creative Writing, Fiction, Third Year
I see that you’re the administrative assistant for the Creative Writing Program. Can you tell me a little bit about that? What kind of work do you do? Can you give us a sneak peek of what events will be happening this year?
When I was accepted to CSU’s MFA program I was offered the 34th GTA, a relatively new assistantship given to one incoming MFA candidate per year in alternating genres. The 34th GTA allows me to teach E210 twice in my time here, CSU’s introductory creative writing course, alongside acting as the assistant to the director of the Creative Writing Program, Sasha Steensen, both of which are hugely rewarding.
Wearing my administrative hat, I maintain The Blog, organize our annual welcome picnic, facilitate writing contests, make, copy, and distribute various administrative materials, and send many emails.
With the academic year just beginning we’re still settling in, so though I wish I had sneak peeks to share, I don’t at the moment. However, this past spring we put on an informative cross-genre publishing event with an in-depth faculty panel and Skype-ins from various industry professionals. With pizza! We’re hoping to provide more events like it in the future–providing grad students, not just in the Creative Writing department, with applicable opportunities for professionalization in relaxed, social spaces.
What is your favorite part about the Creative Writing Program at CSU? Or what made you choose the Creative Writing Program at CSU?
It’s cornball, but true, I love the open-arm community here. Finding a program where students and faculty and admins, across genres, knew and liked each other was important to me–writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and I particularly am the kind of writer who needs writer-cheerleaders and writer-coaches to hold me accountable to my work, to push my thinking forward.
Funnily enough, in my MFA search it was The Blog that convinced me to add CSU to my list. The way the students talked about one another there felt like exactly what I was hungering for.
If you had to describe Eddy in one word, what would it be?
What is (currently) your favorite quote/poem/book/author/saying?
Always the hardest question to answer! My gut response is the one my cohort would most likely expect–I’ve been obsessing over Carmen Maria Machado since Her Body and Other Parties came out last year. It’s gotten to the point where I receive texts and emails with startling regularity about what Machado is up to from my fiction family, they’re so aware of my obsession (and she’s doing so much!).
But, to attempt to answer in an unexpected way, Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing wrecked me this past summer. She’s a writer I deeply admire and am completely mystified by.
Is there any advice you would give aspiring creative writing students/undergraduates?
Very specific writing advice: no draft is a waste of time. Don’t kill your darlings, file them. Even if the words, the sounds, the images themselves aren’t useful somewhere else the work you did to bring them into the world is necessary practice toward work you’ll produce later. Keep drafting, even when you’re slogging through. This is what it means to do the work.
Less specific writing advice that may just be general life advice: as much as you’re able, quash the ticking clock. Don’t rush yourself. There won’t be a qualifying exam you need to cram for right now in order to become a capital-W-Writer and live a writer’s life. Do the best work you’re capable of now, trust that if you keep showing up at the desk you’ll be capable of better work later, work that surprises you, work you probably can’t even imagine yet.
Which is all to say, I think, that this writing thing is a growing thing, a nurturing thing, a gardening thing, an unruly thing. Learning to be comfortable with not just growth but a little bit of wildness will serve you well.