The two most important things about the Writing Program for me were the mentorship—being pushed by, and being championed by, faculty—both while I was at CalArts and after I graduated. Also, the peer group with which I’m still in contact. We had daily workshops; a handful of people working on the same projects for two years, who knew each other’s work really well. Taking criticism and learning how to communicate better based on that feedback, is important, because most of the time you’re trying to write on your own; you’re in a vacuum. You have no idea whether readers are going to pick up what you’re putting down. It’s valuable to learn that you can build from that criticism rather than being destroyed by it.
CalArts is a great place to be if you’re not sure exactly what you’re doing yet, and you want the room to grow and find your style or your niche. You’re encouraged to experiment, and there are some great faculty members that say, ‘What you've done here is good, but you need to go further.’ Or, maybe, ‘What you’ve done here isn’t so good.’ I gained a lot of confidence. When I came out of the Program I felt like I was no longer a dabbler. It also taught me discipline and good habits–having to produce work on a weekly basis.