Greg Smolarz is a creative writing MFA student at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. His background is in film, but he jumped ship four years ago to pursue writing full time. He is an unpublished author, but hopes to change that very soon. His biggest accomplishment in the world of film was having a documentary accepted into a small film festival in Prescott, Arizona. One of his favorite quotes states, “My biggest weakness is that I’ll never be the smartest guy in the room, my biggest strength is that I don’t pretend to be.
Gabrielle Lawrence: As a first year candidate, why did you decide to pursue your MFA? What do you hope to gain after three years with the Arkansas Writers Program?
Greg Smolarz: I decided to pursue an MFA because I thought it would add to my life as a writer. I felt as though I was aimlessly drifting after discovering fiction in November 2015.
I had this intense desire and passion to write, but I felt as though there was something missing from the process. I thought an MFA would help guide me to whatever that missing puzzle piece is.
My biggest hope is to gain experience. I have zero expectations as a writer, all I know is that I love to write and would like to pursue that as far as I can.
GL: You recently returned from a writing conference in New York. Do you mind sharing more about that experience?
GS: My experience in New York was fascinating. It brought me in touch with writing as a much greater resource than I ever could have imagined. The dream I only knew in my head became a reality that was walking around in front of me. That was awesome to see.
GL: Tell us about your creative work and writing process—do you have a preferred genre or aesthetic?
GS: As a writer my primary genre focus is fiction, and I gravitate towards satire for reasons that are a complete mystery to me.
As far as my process goes, it’s all over the place. For a long time I was waking up and pounding out a thousand words a day. Then when I was working, I’d shift to writing my thousand words at night. But that always seems to be my desired word count when I sit in the chair. I tried two thousand for a while but that was intense, doable but intense.
GL: What goals do you hope to accomplish during your time here? How do you hope your writing will be developed and challenged by our students and faculty?
GS: My only goal aside from schoolwork is completing a final draft of a novel. I have several in the woodshed, but I want to write one for public consumption.
I hope to be challenged greatly. To be quite honest, there’s a lot I don’t know about writing and I’m hard headed af. So, sometimes it takes someone pointing out the obvious or challenging me to try something new, that is a necessary part of my process.
GL: What’s your favorite piece of writing advice?
GS: Thomas Harris says in one of his Hannibal prologues, “Write what you see and fill in the rest.”
Visit our blog again soon to meet another graduate student from the Arkansas Writers Program.