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Jean-Paul’s Tips for Writing About Places You Know Nothing About

Posted by JeanPaul Bass On March - 12 - 2013

camel caravan in libyan desert wallpaper 300x187 Jean Pauls Tips for Writing About Places You Know Nothing AboutMy book is a fantasy novel and I wanted every location to feel rich with details to make it seem like a real place. Because I wanted to give my fantasy roots in reality, I had to make it seem like I knew what it’s like to live in a desert region, even though I had never been there. I knew I could only make up so much before the reader loses the ability to suspend their disbelief, so I had to do some research.

I come from the Midwest, where it snows and rains and the temperatures can reach in the triple digits, but it’s accompanied by humidity. We have tons of trees and grassy hills, not sand, sand dunes, and more sand. At the beginning, all I knew about deserts was that they are hot and sandy. I had a lot of work to do. The only way to write the desert sections of my novel with any sort of authenticity was to immerse myself in the desert as much as I could from my apartment in NYC.

Tip #1: Use Google. Google image search became my best friend. Not only could I see the desert, but I found images of villages and the people who live there. I used these images to give myself a visual and then I turned to texts and movies for the rest of the experience.

Tip #2: Movies and books are fun ways to do research. I watched Sahara (starring Humphrey Bogart), Lawrence of Arabia, and Walkabout, a brilliant Australian film about two children who must survive in the harsh outback after their father dies. Then I watched dozens of documentaries on television that dealt with deserts, from Biblical stories to lost desert civilizations. If it had anything to do with the desert, I watched it.

I researched the foods desert people eat, which crops they grow, and which plants thrive in arid conditions. Then I learned about the types of building materials they use, where they get water, and which animals are native to the desert. I learned how people travel across the desert, what signs to look for when searching for water, and realized that the desert was a much more interesting place than I had first assumed. I read graphic novels, like Habibi by Craig Thompson and Cairo by G. Willow Wilson, to see how others dealt with the desert in a visual and text medium.

Tip #3: Take notes from unexpected resources. What surprised me most during my research was the odd places where I found useful information. While reading a book about Alexander the Great for my own personal enjoyment, I learned that he traveled through the desert by following birds as they migrated from one oasis to the next. And in a show about ancient battles, I learned about caravans and how they survived for weeks at a time in the desert.

Tip #4: Put yourself there. Once all of the researchwais done I had to imagine myself in the desert in order to write about it. I thought about the sights, sounds, and smells that would overwhelm my senses if I was dropped on top of a sand dune in the middle of the desert. If I can’t imagine it, then neither will my reader.

Writing about a place I’ve never been is daunting, but it can be done. With a bit of research and a great imagination, no one will ever know that the only time I’ve ever been to the desert is when I write about it in my novel.

Image courtesy of wallpaperpassion.com

Jean-Paul Loves a Good Jerk

Posted by JeanPaul Bass On February - 18 - 2013

VALENTINES DAY JERKS Jean Paul Loves a Good JerkI love jerks. Especially those with a tortured past.

Not only are lovable jerks fun to read, but they are also fun to write. They say and do anything as long as it suits their purpose, they are quick with the witty put-downs, and they make scenes more lively and fun just by being in them. Of course, the best jerks are those who, despite their epic jerkiness, do what’s right in the end.

I get excited when the jerk character makes an appearance in my stories because I know that, if I do my job well enough, the reader will fall in love with them as well and will be waiting for the moment when the jerk can put his jerkiness aside and help save the world. Because there’s nothing better than when characters who hate each other realize that they can’t do it alone.

Here are some of my favorite jerks in literature:

The Mysterious Jerk: Gentleman from Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Gentleman is the epitome of jerk. A smooth-talker, he can play both sides without missing a beat and make you trust him even though you don’t even know his real name.

The Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Gilly Hopkins from The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson

She curses, she steals from old blind men, she’s a racist, and she bullies emotionally damaged children. But you can’t stop yourself from falling in love with her. Gilly learns what it means to love and care for others and in the process, you learn that her big heart is what makes Gilly great.

The Reformed Jerk: Eustace Scrubb from the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis

With a name like Eustace Clarence Scrubb, can you really blame him for being a jerk? But, by the end of the series, Eustace has appeared in three books and been the honorable hero of two of them. Not too shabby.

The Single-Minded Jerk: Little Bear from The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

Little Bear wants to fight. Little Bear wants weapons. Little Bear wants to protect his people and will do whatever it takes to win, even if it means shooting his best friend in the chest with an arrow.

The Jerk with Daddy Issues: Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Poor Draco. No matter what he does, he will always be a disappointment to his father. But that doesn’t stop him from trying to impress Lucius Malfoy anyway. Even though, deep down, he knows what he is doing is wrong.

Images courtesy of Warner Bros., Walden Media, BBC, HarperCollins, Paramount Pictures, and the mad Photoshop skills of Shyla Bass.

Jean-Paul’s Past is Not Perfect

Posted by JeanPaul Bass On January - 14 - 2013

past present future Jean Pauls Past is Not PerfectI have a problem with the past. I didn’t know I had a problem, though, until I started writing. The majority of my stories are told in the past tense. Writing in present tense just isn’t my style and a story told in future tense would make me crazy. So there are a lot of she was, he went, they looked, etc. My problem comes when I get into flashbacks and memories. There, I seem to get caught up in the narrative and forget to keep it in the past perfect tense which indicates that it had all happened before the present story. Which causes my readers to get lost in time and makes me cringe when someone points it out to me.

It all starts out fine, but halfway through I inevitably drop the ball. My had hads turn into just had; instead of she had found it becomes she found, and so on. I thought the problem was that I was writing too fast and not paying attention, or that my schooling had failed me by not teaching me proper grammar, or perhaps that I was just a tense doofus. Then I learned about the historical present tense. Most English speakers have a tendency to begin a story in the past tense and finish in the present tense and linguists call talking about past events in the present tense using the historical present. We begin in the past to orient our audience with the who, where, and when, and then move into the present when the action ramps up. To steal an example from Lexicon Valley, the podcast where I learned about the historical present, check out the episode of Seinfeld where Kramer is telling everyone what happened to him on the bus when he tries to take a woman’s severed toe to the hospital to be reattached. It starts in the past “I found the toe…” and switches to the present “So I’m driving the bus…” So, if Kramer can get away with shifting tenses in the middle of a story, then why can’t I?

Well, there are a few reasons why I can’t – the most important ones being consistency and not confusing the reader – but I don’t let it bug me too much anymore. We all do it at some point, mine just happens to show up in my writing. And when I notice the flashback moving out of past perfect into the past, that’s when I know I’m writing something really exciting.

Jean-Paul’s Three Easy Steps to Becoming a Better Writer

Posted by JeanPaul Bass On December - 13 - 2012

three fingers Jean Pauls Three Easy Steps to Becoming a Better WriterHow to become a better writer in 3 easy steps (or, what I learned this semester):

1. Be open. Sometimes, the story just isn’t working. Don’t be afraid to start all over. Putting glitter and a bow on a turd makes it pretty, sure, but it’s still a turd. All of the editing, rewriting, and revising in the world isn’t going to make a story better if the core of it, meaning the characterizations, the plots, the dialogue, is all clichéd and uninspired. I had an idea and wrote pages and pages and pages on it; over three hundred pages, in fact! And I had to throw them all away. On the second attempt, I wrote about five chapters and I had to throw them away, too. It wasn’t until the third try did everything start coming together. I changed the location, the ages, and personalities of the characters. The main story stayed the same, but the events leading up to it changed. Instead of a rambling prologue, I inserted the most relevant parts into the story, allowing the information to unfold naturally. And now, finally, the story is becoming what I always imagined it could be. So, be open to letting things go. Be open to giving up on something if writing has become a punishment instead of something you enjoy. Be open to starting fresh if that’s what it will take to make the story a good one.

2. Try new things. A few months ago, I had never done an outline, or written chapter two before writing chapter one, or done any sort character development exercises, such as figuring out a character’s like and dislikes, what scares them and what excites them, etc. But after rewriting the same story three times (see No. 1), I knew I needed help. So I gave outlining a try. I found some different outlines that seemed to work for my story, cobbled them together into one perfect outline, and filled it in. Now I could see the bigger picture. I knew why each chapter, each sentence was important. Everything fell into place.

And when I got to the sections that I just didn’t feel like writing, I took some advice from my friends and skipped them so I could get to the parts that excited me. Forcing myself to write the sections I thought of as boring was only going to make those sections boring. So I decided to write them later and work on the parts I couldn’t wait to write. If I hadn’t skipped ahead, I’d probably still be working on that missing section, stuck in an endless loop of trying to turn lead into gold by editing, rewriting, and revising something that just wasn’t working.

As I was working on the third attempt, I noticed I was writing my characters in ways that worked for the plot but made them act out of character. So it was back to the drawing board because I didn’t know my characters well enough to keep them consistent. I had to try some exercises to get to know them better and it worked. Now their reactions are authentic and they don’t come across as weak when I want them to be strong. I needed to spend more time with them, get to know them, outside of the story so that I would know how they would act in the story.

3. Share. I cannot express how much sharing fuels creativity and makes you a better writer. Sharing what you’ve written or ideas and talking them through with someone lets you see the flaws in your story and come up with ways to fix them. In class, someone pointed out a clichéd scene and while we were discussing it, I came up with a brilliant new idea that was totally fresh and made the story exciting. If I hadn’t shared the scene so that we could discuss our thoughts, I would have never been able to see it from someone else’s perspective or had that epiphany. And sharing with another also gives you feedback on what you’re doing right, so that you can do it again and again and again, all the way to the end.

Jean-Paul Loves Alfonso Cuarón

Posted by JeanPaul Bass On November - 5 - 2012

A Little Princess 600x340 Jean Paul Loves Alfonso CuarónA Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett is one of those books that I read as a child that didn’t really leave an impression on me. It’s the story of Sara Crewe, a rich girl who is sent to live in a boarding school and through a reversal of fortune, is forced to work as a servant to earn her keep. There are times of hardship and moments of despair but through another reversal of fortune, Sara regains her life of privilege and lives happily ever after. I was never into fairytales and Sara’s story wasn’t much different from Cinderella’s or Snow White’s tale.

Then, in 1995, Alfonso Cuarón directed the most beautifully shot children’s-book-to-film adaptations ever. Cuarón’s A Little Princess took the tired poor-little-rich-girl tale and turned it into something magical. He filled the story with warmth and heart and made Sara’s plight meaningful. The visuals were stunning and it is one of the few movies I will watch whenever it comes on TV.

Prisoner of Azkaban 300x213 Jean Paul Loves Alfonso CuarónCuarón also directed the most atmospheric film in the Harry Potter franchise, and my favorite film in the series. The Prisoner of Azkaban, which is also one of my favorite Harry Potter books, totally blew the previous movies out of the water and raised the bar stylistically for the remaining films. He made Harry Potter’s world magical, which sounds like a no-brainer but, to me, Hogwarts didn’t feel like a school full of witchcraft and wizardry until Cuarón got his hands on it.

A Little Princess is my favorite film adaptation of a children’s book ever. And, as someone who writes children’s books about magic and fantasy, I sometimes wonder what one of my stories would look like on film. After seeing Cuarón successfully bring two children’s books to life, there’s a teeny tiny part of me that can’t stop imagining him directing something of mine.

Jean-Paul Reflects on Taking Classes With the First and Second Years

Posted by JeanPaul Bass On October - 11 - 2012

73000961 eeb19145e2 n Jean Paul Reflects on Taking Classes With the First and Second YearsAhhh, second-year-itis has set in for me. I have a class with all of the Writing for Children first years and I can’t help looking at them with knowing fondness. To be a year younger, starting an MFA program, with so many possibilities ahead of me. Oh, to be young again!

It wasn’t until my second semester of the MFA program that I realized I didn’t belong in Fiction. Over the summer, I switched to Writing for Children and now in my third semester, I can’t help but think of the time wasted working towards something that didn’t really fit me. Now I am in one class with the second years and in another class with the first years. I didn’t get the chance to form a bond with anyone that first semester because in Fiction, every class is with new people, so it takes a while before you can get to know someone. But in Writing for Children, those first two semesters are with the same people for every class, so it’s as if the program created a group of writing companions just for you.

Already, the first years know what everyone is working on, who is really good at line edits, and who gets their writing and what they’re trying to do. The second years also have a background with each other. They know who is working on what, the history of certain characters and why one is acting a certain way that baffles me when I read a later chapter in a story, and probably have a general idea of who they want to work with in their peer groups next semester.

Of course, in Fiction it’s rare to start any semester with more than two people from a previous class and each workshop is filled with stories and characters you’ve never met before and will probably never meet again, but Writing for Children is not the same. The people you meet in the first semester are what you get, unless someone drops out of the program or switches to a different genre. Or switches into the genre, as I did.

I came to the school not only to improve my writing and my chances of publication, but also to develop relationships that will last beyond graduation. I envy the first years who already knew each other by name in the second week, while I still barely know them by face. And while I have become friends with the second years inside and outside of class, I do wish I had been there with them from the beginning. I feel like I am in-between since I have classes with both groups, but as I look towards next semester and what comes after, I sometimes think I may have the best of both years. I already have friendships within the second years and now I have to the potential to get to know and make friends with the first years. My community of writers is growing, and that can only make me a better writer in the long run.

Am I glad I switched? You betcha. Even if I sometimes feel like I’m in a class all by myself.

Image courtesy flickr/Wysz

99129170 7d542023a6 n The Book Jean Paul Wishes Shed Written is Pretty Much Every Book on the ShelfThe book I wish I’d written would be a hodge-podge, mish-mash, Frankenstein-ian mash-up of a few books, some of which aren’t on my favorite books ever list, but stuck with me nonetheless. Instead of listing the dozens of books that have traits I’d love to emulate, I’ll stick with the top four that stand out in the categories I think can make or break a story and are useful guides for the book I am currently working on.

I’d start with Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris. This was the first fantasy novel I’d read that didn’t have a heaving bodice on the cover. I was surprised by how well-written it was, how he intertwined religion with fantasy aspects, how his heroine was atypical and flawed which made her someone you’d want to root for unabashedly. He filled his world with tons of history and mythology but it didn’t feel like a history lesson. I realized that a fantasy story can be huge – it can be about religion, magic, mythology, history, the relationships between characters, and whatever else you can think of, as long as it serves a purpose in the story.

If a stranger on the street asked me which Stephen King book they should read, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend The Eyes of the Dragon. It’s relatively short, for a King novel, and takes place in a high fantasy setting. There is magic, a villain, a charming, intelligent prince, and an evil prince who is really just misguided and lonely. The long-windedness that drowns out some of King’s other stories is gone and what’s there is fluid, clear, and intriguing. I especially love the ending and the ingenious way King’s main characters save the day. King is great at handling many threads of a story at once and he deftly switches from one character to another without breaking the flow of the narrative while keeping tensions high. I’d love to be able to mimic his pacing.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card showed me how important characterization is. Normally, I don’t read sci-fi. Space battles with evil alien overlords? No, thank you. I was especially reluctant because Ender is a pre-teen genius. Prodigies are typically portrayed as cocky, someone most people can’t identify with, much less feel sorry for, but I couldn’t put his story down. I cared about and for Ender, I wanted him to succeed and keep pushing himself. I felt his frustration and wondered when the training was going to end. And when the surprising conclusion is revealed, I felt his pain and shock. Card taught me that it doesn’t matter how great a story is if no one cares. When I write my own stories about teens facing the impossible, I try to remember that in the midst of the battles across space, Ender was still just a kid.  As mature as these kids may seem, they are still just children on the inside and this is what makes them relatable to the reader.

And finally, I’d have to include English Passengers by Matthew Kneale. Kneale’s book includes much of what impressed me in the other books: different theoretical, philosophical, and historical concepts all rolled up neatly into one story, multiple characters and excellent pacing, and great characterizations. Kneale’s story also included copious amounts of humor. It’s pretty rare for a book to make me laugh out loud, especially if the book is historical fiction, but English Passengers definitely has some gut-busting moments. I think it’s really refreshing when an author can make a dark tale lighter by adding in some well-placed jokes. Sometimes, everything isn’t always so bleak, and if you can make someone laugh when they weren’t expecting it, it can elevate your story to another level.

If I could take the best parts of these books, blend them together, and put my name on the cover, that’d be the book I want to write.

Image courtesy of Stewart/flickr

Jean-Paul Recommends The Hunger Games Because She Didn’t Hate It

Posted by JeanPaul Bass On August - 3 - 2012

Hunger Games Jean Paul Recommends The Hunger Games Because She Didnt Hate ItSometimes, I try to stay away from what’s popular because I just can’t believe the hype surrounding it. I waited until the second book came out in the Harry Potter series before reading the first one, and of course I was hooked by the opening line. I just couldn’t believe a book could be that good, that everyone who read it ended up loving it, and so I didn’t give in until I got tired of people disbelieving me when I said I hadn’t read the first book.

Then came Twilight and I couldn’t understand how a book with such bad reviews could be so popular. I wanted to know why, what was it about Bella and Edward that captivated people? I wish I could lie and say I’ve never read Twilight, but I have. And I read the sequel. But I stopped with the third book. Out of pure curiosity, I had a friend tell me how everything ended and then did a finger puppet reenactment for some other friends who hadn’t read any of the books. The reenactment was basically my right index finger intensely asking my left index finger, “Why aren’t you scared of me?” and then brooding while my left index finger floated through the scene in a selfish haze.

So when The Hunger Games exploded on the scene, I was cautious. I heard the complaints about it being a weak Battle Royale ripoff, but then I saw it rising to the top of the bestseller lists. Friends and classmates recommended it, but I didn’t want another Twilight experience, and I knew nothing could ever live up to the hype like Harry Potter did, so I just said, “yeah, okay, I’ll check it out,” knowing full well I was planning on doing nothing of the sort. The only reason I ended up reading the book is because my sister bought movie tickets and I wanted to know how I was going to be wasting two hours of my life.

I went into the book expecting the worst and came out pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t that bad. Actually, it was pretty good. I had to give Suzanne Collins props because I was only hoping I’d be able to finish the book and she had me wanting more.

I’ve read quite a few books this summer, some good, some bad, one or two awesome ones, and it’s kinda funny that I consider The Hunger Games the best book I’ve read these past few months simply because I didn’t hate it. I know Public Enemy told everyone not to believe the hype, but in this case giving a hyper-popular book a try was totally worth it.

Image courtesy of Scholastic

Jean-Paul Thinks She Might Be Indecisive

Posted by JeanPaul Bass On July - 6 - 2012

indecision.jpg 300x231 Jean Paul Thinks She Might Be IndecisiveWhat I’m currently working on kinda depends on my mood. I have a steampunk-ish idea that flutters around my brain, occupying a small space in the background that is slowly growing larger. I’m always thinking about it, but I can’t quite get a grasp on it.

I haven’t actually written anything on the steampunk-ish story, but I have been working on two other ideas. One is something I came up with a long time ago, wrote the novel, and have been revising it off and on for the past few years. It’s a fantasy/adventure story, kind of like the Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander meets any other story where two kids go off on an adventure that will change the entire world. Like I said, I’m working on it.

The story that is currently taking up most of my waking time (and some of my dreams) is an idea I came up with, wrote a few hundred pages on it, and then decided to scrap everything and start over. Don’t worry – it wasn’t as difficult to do as it sounds. When I re-read some of the chapters and found myself groaning with embarrassment every other sentence, I didn’t have a choice.

Sea Hag 184x300 Jean Paul Thinks She Might Be IndecisiveBefore the rewrite, I would have described it as the story contained within a book with a cover like The Sea Hag. A weak female character who can’t do anything except fall in love, some monstrous creatures that were bad news for everyone, weird technology that had nothing to do with the story, and a mysterious knight in black armor… my story was just like the cover of The World of Crystal Walls (but with a much better title).  I am serious.  I’d share an excerpt but I’m afraid Mr. David Drake would sue me for plagiarism.

The new version is more of a cross between Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance trilogy and Elantris by Brandon Sanderson, with a bit of The Lord of the Rings thrown in – so much better. I couldn’t find a cover to match the story and I consider that as job well done. I’m really excited about the new rewrite and it’s probably the one that will get the most attention in my workshops next semester.

But I never know what mood I’ll be in when I sit down at the computer, so I might get started on that memoir I’ve been talking about for ages.  Or maybe something new!


Photo courtesy Amazon.com

Jean Paul Notebooks 600x506 Guest Blogger Jean Paul Bass Reflections on Her First Year in an MFA

Reading everyone else’s thoughts on getting an MFA, I thought about why I am in the program at all. Because, you see, I made a giant mistake when I applied to The New School.

The mistake began years before I even thought about getting an MFA, before I even thought about being a writer. It began in the summer before I entered the tenth grade, when I wrote a story in a green notebook and then promptly threw it away. That green notebook contained the first story I had ever written and without even finishing it, I was convinced the story was no good. So I got rid of it.

Fast forward a few years to when I dropped in and out of three colleges, sometimes simultaneously attending one while in the midst of failing classes at another, as I tried to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I thought about being a linguist, a teacher, a paralegal, a museum curator, a librarian, studying medieval history, owning a bookstore, basically anything except writing. But I never forgot about the story in that green notebook and when a friend suggested I write something instead of picking apart the bad writing in a book I had just read, I did it. And when I shared the story with my friend, I was amazed that she liked it, and everyone she showed it to liked it. That’s when I revisited that old story, and even though I had forgotten most of the details, I decided to finally finish it.

Over the course of six months, I stayed up until four and five in the morning, writing because I couldn’t sleep at night. My brain raced with new ideas and I would lie awake in bed, begging my mind to shut down so I could sleep but also excited about all of the scenes I couldn’t wait to write. So I would crawl out of bed and write until the sun came up.

Eventually I finished the book and after sharing it with a few friends, I put it away because I felt it just wasn’t good enough to be published. And I continued on with my life, but by then I had decided to finish college with a degree in English and Creative Writing. In my writing classes, I focused on literary fiction, or adult writing as I call it, because no one in my classes read or wrote YA novels and I didn’t feel comfortable submitting anything that wasn’t adult-orientated. So my YA novels and ideas were put on the back burner as I concentrated on my adult stories even though I didn’t much care about them. I just wanted to write and be around writers.

When it came time to apply for an MFA program, I picked The New School because of the writing for children concentration. I thought it would be great to work on fiction and writing for children but I only applied to the fiction program. I looked at the YA novel I had written and the other YA ideas I had started but never finished, felt none of them were ready, and prepared my fiction submission.

My first semester in the fiction MFA program left me feeling lost. I didn’t care about what I submitted, and dreaded my second year and all of the expectations that came with it. What would I write about during my thesis semester? What would I read at the final student readings? None of the my adult stories were special enough for me to want to keep revising or showcase them and I had no new ideas.

But I had tons of YA stuff I could write and polish. In my second semester, I took a writing for children seminar and I finally felt like I belonged. Here were people who took children’s books seriously, who didn’t treat genre like the plague, and I finally had the chance to share some of my YA ideas and characters with people who could understand where I was coming from and why these characters and their stories mattered to me.

As the semester ended and it came time to choose classes for the next year, a sinking feeling settled into my stomach and I realized what I had done to myself. By not applying to the writing for children program, I had once again thrown away my green notebook. I knew I had made a giant mistake that would haunt me for years, just like the story I had been too scared to finish writing, and I knew I needed to make a change. I finally realized why I didn’t apply to the writing for children program: because writing for children is what matters to me. Fiction was easy; I almost didn’t care if one of my adult stories was rejected. But to put my YA novel out there frightened me. I couldn’t bear the thought of someone saying my YA novel wasn’t good enough and so I didn’t give anyone that chance.

Once I admitted the real reason why I didn’t apply to the writing for children program, I did everything I could to get myself in there. I talked with the program director and began meeting up with my writing for children classmates so that we could start our own workshops and attend writing for children events together. And I sent out the first few chapters of the novel I wrote based on the first story I had ever written in that green notebook for my classmates’ critiques.

I had almost given up on the MFA program because I was getting my degree for all of the wrong reasons. I still struggle with having confidence in myself and my writing, but I know I am getting better, better at writing and better at staying true to myself. And I owe it to the green notebook. Even though I threw it away all those years ago, the memories of writing my first story in there have never left my mind. I used to be embarrassed at my teenage attempt at writing, but now I look back with fondness and inspiration. It is because of those memories that I feel at home in the writing for children MFA program and am glad that I fixed my giant mistake.

Guest blogger Jean-Paul Bass recently decided to quit her job to focus on writing full-time and she swears she doesn’t miss having a regular paycheck at all. She is currently working on her MFA in fiction and writing for children at The New School.  If she could finish her memoir about growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, before graduation, then she would be quite satisfied with herself. 

Photo Credit: Jean-Paul

pixel Guest Blogger Jean Paul Bass Reflections on Her First Year in an MFA

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