Meet the Mentees

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It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write.

Let them think you were born that way.

 – Ernest Hemingway –

 

MTSU Write is a program with one, simple mission: to help aspiring writers achieve their dreams and to become the writers they wish to be. With the help, advice, and experience of MTSU Write’s mentors, the program hopes to engage aspiring writers in one-on-one mentorships. The purpose of these mentorships is to help writers grow in their work and to be successful in their future literary careers. Here are two testimonials from a current student and an alumna of the MTSU Write program.

Massey Armistead

Current Student of MTSU Write

  1. Where are you from?

Nashville, Tennessee.

  1. How did you become involved with MTSU Write?

I heard about MTSU Write when I was in college.

  1. Who is your mentor?

Kory Wells.

  1. How far along in the program are you?

I’m in my third semester! I started the program a little over a year ago.

  1. What genre do you primarily write?

Poetry.

  1. What has been your best experience in the program?

I think working with Kory.

  1. What has been the greatest challenge you’ve overcome while in the program?

Time management! It is so hard for me to set aside time to just read and write, and this program has really helped me with that. Kory has also really pushed me to read more, and it has definitely improved my writing.

  1. How has working with a mentor improved your writing skills?

Kory sees things in my poetry that I would never have seen. She helps bring out parts of my poetry that I’d never noticed before, and it’s been a big help in the editing process.

  1. What aspects of being in the MTSU Write Program will you take with you as you continue your writing career?

This program has given me the courage to submit my poetry on applications for grad school, and I don’t think my poems would have been ready for that before I joined the program.

  1. Would you recommend the MTSU Write Program to aspiring writers?

Absolutely! If you have the resources to be a part of the program and you put the effort and time in, you can be the writer you want to be.

  1. Is there anything else you would like the readers to know?

I would say to take advantage of the program and all it offers. I’m just now submitting my work to journals and reading my poems at open mics, and I wish I’d have done more the first two semesters I was in the program.

Sandy Coomer

Alumna of MTSU Write

  1. Where are you from?

I am a Tennessee native, born in Nashville, but I’ve lived in Brentwood, TN (just a tad further south!) for the past 18 years.

  1. How did you become involved with MTSU Write?

I can’t remember how I heard about the program – maybe I just happened upon it! It was called “The Writer’s Loft” when I was a student, and the program directors were Charlotte Rains Dixon and Terry Price. I wanted to explore the craft of writing, of which I knew nothing but had great enthusiasm for, and it seemed to be a good way to start. My first semester was in the summer of 2008 and I continued into the fall of 2008 and the spring of 2009, graduating in September 2009.

  1. Who was your mentor?

I had a different mentor each semester. My first mentor was Alvin Knox, studying poetry. My second mentor was Betsy Woods, studying short stories / fiction (where I learned I was not a very good short story / fiction writer!) My third mentor was Bill Brown, studying poetry. It was in this last semester that I figured out my heart’s journey was meant to be in poetry.

  1. How long have you been an alumna of the program?

I graduated in September 2009. That was 7 years ago!

  1. What genre do you primarily write?

Poetry. Pretty much exclusively.

  1. What was your best experience in the program?

I was an eager learner. I soaked up the experience, luxuriating in my newfound understanding of craft while at the same time acknowledging I had a lifetime of learning ahead of me. That’s a spectacular place to be! I also came out of the program with many new friends who are very precious to me. Bill Brown, to whom I feel I owe a tremendous debt, is a trusted and valued confidant and friend. I can’t even express how dear this man is to me. Kristy Shewmaker, a fellow student now living in Dallas, was my partner in poetry crime during my last semester. We shared poems for years following our graduation, a blessing indeed. Terry Price is a valued and dear friend as well. I’ve become a huge fan (nearly a groupie!) of his West of the Moon Creative Retreats.

  1. What was the greatest challenge you overcame while in the program?

I overcame a lot of self-doubt and fear. I was a Life Sciences (Microbiology) major in college, so I had no creative writing experience, even though it was something I was always interested in. I came to the program with less than zero knowledge of writing craft. Everything was new, every word of feedback an unsettling revelation. It was daunting. It was intimidating. It also created a path I was determined to follow. I remember the first time I read a poem I had written in front of an audience. I was terrified and shaking so hard I was afraid I might faint! I was that unsure of myself. I’ve come a long way since then.

  1. How had working with a mentor improved your writing skills?

You’ve heard the phrase, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” That was me. As aspects of craft were revealed to me with kindness, with patience, I began to put a few things together. I had some basic instincts when it came to writing poetry, but there was much I didn’t know about technique. Though I believe writing poetry is an act of love, an orchestra of the heart, it’s helpful to know strategies and basic rules (if you want to call it that), if only for structural purposes and stability. My mentors showed me home base, and when you know where home is, it becomes easier and easier to go further afield, to take some risks, to feel comfortable in your own journey as a writer.

  1. What aspects of being in the MTSU Write Program will you take with you as you continue your writing career?

I credit the MTSU Write Program for helping me build a writing foundation. While I push the limits at times in my writing, I carry that solid base with me still. Also, I will always value the relationships and friendships made during my time in the program, and continue to support, encourage, and applaud the efforts of my fellow writers.

  1. Would you recommend the MTSU Write Program to aspiring writers?

Definitely. While there may be some requirements of the program that feel challenging, that may not be easy or comfortable (what part of personal growth is ever easy or comfortable?!), it is a safe environment in which to explore and test your writing abilities, to grow in knowledge and skill, and to be in a supportive circle with others who share a love for stories, for voices, for words. And that, dear poets and writers, is pretty darn special.

***Sandy Coomer is a poet, mixed media artist and endurance athlete. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals and anthologies and she is the author of three poetry chapbooks, including Rivers Within Us, forthcoming in 2017 from Unsolicited Press. Her art has been featured in several local exhibits and art shows. Up next: The Art Show at Brentwood Academy, December 2-4. An avid endurance athlete, Sandy regularly competes in triathlons, marathons, half marathons and trail races, and just recently qualified for the Half Ironman 70.3 World Championship race in 2017. Read more about Sandy – http://www.sandycoomer.com, and visit her art store, Sparrow House Art, at Etsy.com.***

MTSU Write will begin accepting applications for the 2017 Spring trimester on December 1, 2016. The deadline for application submission is December 31, 2016. To learn more about MTSU Write visit our website at http://www.mtsu.edu/write, and be sure to check out our social media! We’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Written by: Emily Coble, MTSU Write Intern

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