Don published Uglyville under the name Sawney Hatton.
Do you have any parting words or shout-outs to share with current students and faculty?
I didn’t know what to expect from a graduate writing program—besides the degree—but I can honestly say all my classes were engaging, enlightening, and enjoyable. This can be attributed to the outstanding professors in the program. Every one of them deserves commendation of the highest order.
I would like to spotlight a couple of folks: Tenaya Darlington, Graduate Director of Writing Studies and a damn fine professor, for all her guidance throughout my time in the program; and Dr. Paul Patterson, my thesis advisor, who helped me polish my novella UGLYVILLE into the shiny opus it is today. Both deserve extra credit for putting up with my nonsense. (As do all of my professors, come to think of it.)
Which Writing Studies course or course reading was most interesting or useful to you? Why?
The most invaluable part of my classes was the feedback from my instructors and peers, a talented bunch who really contributed to improving and encouraging my work. I hope I was able to return the favor in equal measure.
How do you plan to use your Master’s Degree in your career?
In addition to earning a living wage writing and editing, I would also love to teach. Pursuing my Master’s Degree has already opened more doors for me in all these arenas.
Do you have any tips for future students about choosing classes, juggling the workload, or writing a thesis?
Choose the classes that interest you. Don’t procrastinate about getting assignments done. Write the best thesis you can. Eliminate anybody who gets in your way.
Any advice about writing in general?
Pay attention. Pay attention to everything you read, everything you watch on TV and at the movies. Pay attention when you are strolling down the street, driving in traffic, or eating at a restaurant. The world—all the people, places, and things you encounter—is your source of information and inspiration. Greedily accept everything it has to offer.
Write. Write fearlessly. Write powerfully. Write diligently. Write.
Be your own cheerleader and champion. Successful writers put themselves out there. After you have your work thoroughly critiqued and edited, submit it to literary magazines, query agents and producers, self publish (gasp!) it. Whatever you have to do to get people to read your writing, do it. Do not be afraid to promote yourself. Do not be afraid of rejection. There are many great writers out there who are floundering in obscurity, and many not-so-great writers who have become popular and prosperous. The difference between a successful writer and an unsuccessful one often lies in how they sell themselves. Shine your light as far as you can cast it.
Thanks, Don. Congrats on getting Uglyville published!