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Sponsored feature: Humber College
Author and Humber writing mentor Kyo Maclear, a Humber School for Writers graduate herself, speaks at the 2018 School for Writers Summer Workshop in Creative Writing.
Finding a career in the arts can seem impossible. There’s no roadmap to success, and if you’re a creative writer, no way to guarantee your work will be published regardless of where you study. So when it comes to getting your foot in the door of the publishing world, it’s hard to know where to begin.
For most writers, the hardest part is not just getting started on a manuscript, but finishing it. Humber’s Creative Writing Graduate Certificate aims to push students who are working on book-length projects or have begun their manuscripts. The advantage of joining the program is the personal approach to developing their craft with expert guidance from some of the best authors currently working in the business. The program’s faculty included authors who work in various areas of the industry and whose works span various genres. This year’s faculty included 2017 Governor General’s Award winner Cherie Dimaline, filmmaker and author David Bezmozgis, essayist and author Jami Attenberg among others. Along the way, they learn valuable and translatable skills any writer is able to use on different industry level.
Unlike other programs, the Creative Writing Graduate Certificate takes a unique approach to student’s success by approaching learning in a non-traditional hands on way. Students learn how to develop their stories as they write they submit their manuscript to their mentor who provides feedback and offers practical strategies. Also, because the program is remote, students are given the opportunity to work from home without the hassle of having to attend class.
Sarah MacLachlan, Nita Pronovost, and Emily Keeler (l. to r.) discuss the state of Canadian publishing with Humber School for Writers director David Bezmozgis.
Beginning with helping students develop and understand the best narrative style to define their project, the certificate then delves into stylistic development. Along the way of improving their skills, students are given the opportunity to learn how to edit their own work as well as the work of other writers.
Practicality and a realistic approach to creativity is a key factor of the program. As students work through their manuscripts with their mentors, they also obtain a modern and updated look on what it’s like to truly make a living as an author. With looking at their manuscript with the lens of issues in contemporary writing, as they progress through their manuscript they learn about how to find the right agent, publisher and editors before their manuscript is complete.
Of course, writing a manuscript is just the first step in entering the world of creative writing. Once completed, students also learn the practical skills authors need once a book is published and their manuscript is out in the world by learning how to navigate press and interviews,
In fact, over 300 of the program’s alumni have gone on to publish books of their own. Most recently, graduate Liz Harmer was nominated for 2018’s Journey Prize for her short story Never Prosper, her novel The Amateurs was published in early 2018. Another graduate of the program is new author Lindsay Wong who obtained the certificate in 2015 worked alongside author Jami Attenberg to write her debut short story collection and her new memoir The Woo-Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raids, Demons and My Crazy Chinese Family was just released this autumn. Speaking to Humber she explained how the mentorship of the Creative Writing Graduate Certificate helped her develop her craft saying, “I was devastated about not having a book published, but she kept telling me that it would eventually happen.”
Mainly, the goal of the program is to improve writing skills using a project based curriculum. Working closely alongside students, the program mentors and faculty help students understand their strength and weaknesses as writers while providing support to help complete manuscripts. Speaking to Humber, 2014 grad and author of Social Dance: A Book Of Ballroom Poetry, Carolyn Bell spoke of how working alongside her mentor closely helped her achieve her goal of publishing her latest poetry collection. “The intimacy of the mentorship process helped me to develop and deepen my devotion to the writing life – and to respect and honour it with the daily commitment of returning, each and every day, to the work we were doing together,” she said of her mentor Karen Connolly.
Many of the programs graduates have already been formally trained in writing from various universities at many different levels, only the difference at Humber is the real life preparation and guidance from industry experts, the program is tailored to meet the needs of the individual writer’s manuscript. In today’s creative landscape, it’s important writers are given the tools to not only to succeed in their studies, but to be able to apply their skills to the real world. At Humber, students are taught not only technical skills, but also provides students with the best possible guidance to complete their manuscripts.