Christian Howard

What was your undergraduate creative writing experience at UM like?

I established my creative writing major pretty late in my undergraduate career; say second semester junior year late, but I think I managed to take in the full experience. I had been taking creative writing classes every semester since freshman year, and had steadily fallen in love with the short story form. Since I was also a science major, I had to literally beg my way into the upper level classes and submit a portfolio of work. The creative writing courses I took at UM, though demanding and often frustrating, always left me wanting to drop everything I was doing and write. 

What did you do right after graduation?

Initially I had planned to go directly to graduate school, but was still trying to decide whether I should pursue a graduate degree in science or in creative writing. I had been working nearly full-time while I was still in my last few semesters at UM, so I decided to take some time off before going back to school to give myself time to develop as a writer, travel, work, and just generally expand my horizons. I can't tell you how invaluable that time has been to me. 

What are you doing now, if different?

It's been two years, give or take a few months, since graduation, and I'm still working in Miami and writing steadily. I've been revising a lot lately, exchanging work with other writers, reading and re-reading short stories. 

Did UM's Creative Writing program equip you well to get you where you are?

I think the program really forces you to take responsibility for your writing and for what you do with it. Aside from really learning how to structure and critique a story, professors expect you to push yourself to uncomfortable limits. It's hard, but I think the program is rare in it's honesty towards the form of writing. You don't just learn how to write a compelling story, but also how to commit to writing as a constant part of your life. There is a genuine attempt to debunk the "starving artist" myth; it's really a lesson in how to grow as an academic, as well as a writer. 

Anything else you'd like to say about UM's Creative Writing program, or writing in general?

I really felt like part of a community of writers at UM. One that, above all else, looks toward fostering that same energizing sense of community in all its writers.