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"If it weren’t for the creative inspirations of Professor Girman and Karen Dwyer, Ph.D., I would not be where I am now. I give all my thanks to these wonderful professors. Point Park constantly encourages students to find their potential. This school is more than a place to gain a degree — it’s home."

Mary Moses '19

In Point Park University's creative writing program, students hone their craft in hands-on workshops and literary seminars, learning about a variety of genres, techniques and how to polish their skills for career opportunities, including publication. 

"It’s not enough to consider only the classroom anymore," said Chris Girman, Ph.D., assistant professor of literary arts. "Of course we teach the craft techniques of successful writing and introduce young writers to literary traditions, but students need to imagine these skills in the broader literary world."

With guidance from the program's faculty, students also explore the industry's latest creative readings, application processes for workshop scholarships and local internships, how to self-publish, how to market their work at local bookshops and in online forums and create a campus literary magazine.

"These are the kinds of hands-on experiences that interest our literary arts students the most: the topics that merge their classroom experience with the writing communities they want to become a part of," Girman said. 

In the Q&A below, hear from four recent graduates who participated in Point Park's creative writing program and courses as they share how the University helped them achieve success as published authors. 

Pictured is Mary Moses. Submitted photo.
Mary Moses '19 

Mary Moses '19

B.A. in English/Creative Writing and Psychology minor 

Tell us about your recently published work. 

"Whispers of a Small Town" is a collection of short stories with intertwining characters. The book takes place in a small town where nothing stays secret. Each character inhabits different forms of loss — the loss of a relationship, loved one or self. The book explores what it means for characters to fail and face their consequences. This book evolved as a draft through my courses at Point Park, a thesis for graduate school and finally a Golden Plume Award-winning book and soon-to-be hardcover.

How did Point Park's creative writing program prepare you for career success?

At Point Park, I learned where perfectionism fails, creativity thrives. There is no perfect story, plot or characters. There is a world of human emotion to be explored on the page.

What advice do you have for current creative writing students?

Workshops and critiques are not the enemy but the tool to find potential. Ask yourself questions about your stories, plan out settings and how characters interact and inhabit this space. Continue to introduce yourself to your characters — there is so much to explore. Continue to evolve and open your mind to new possibilities. Most of all, don’t give up on your ability as a writer.

If it weren’t for the creative inspirations of Professor Girman and Karen Dwyer, Ph.D., I would not be where I am now. I give all my thanks to these wonderful professors. Point Park constantly encourages students to find their potential. This school is more than a place to gain a degree — it’s home.

Pictured is Daniel Cunningham. Submitted photo.
Daniel Cunningham '21 

Daniel Cunningham '21

B.A. in English/Creative Writing

Tell us about your recently published work.

Chronicles of a Broken World Part 1: Land of Lies follows a variety of characters navigating a fantasy world manipulated behind the scenes. Imagine some of the more fantastical elements of "The Lord of the Rings," mixed with the mature themes and plotlines of "Game of Thrones" and "A Song of Ice and Fire." This is the first part of a larger story, and I am currently working on the second part. I'm excited to share I'll be doing a book signing on Thursday, April 21, at 7:30 p.m. at Riverstone Books at McCandless Crossing.

Which Point Park courses or faculty members had the greatest impact on your professional development?

During my time at Point Park, I was able to realize where my strengths and weaknesses lie as a writer. Because of that, I was better able to refine the story, something I had been working on since my junior year of high school, and pull from various sources of inspiration that I otherwise wouldn’t have considered.

The creative writing program's fiction workshops and non-fiction workshops had the most significant impact on me. While I prefer writing fiction, I was able to pull from many of my own personal experiences and feelings growing up that could be put into the characters I created. In some ways, they serve as reflections of myself, and it’s a somewhat therapeutic experience. Meanwhile, in my fiction workshop classes, I was able to understand that a unique premise and idea can only go so far, but if you don’t have a human element to it, and if you don’t allow your characters to take risks or have faults, it won't stick the landing.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

For anyone who doubts their own abilities, it can honestly be difficult trying to make the most of what you want to do. Even now, there are times where I occasionally doubt myself, but I always remind myself that so long as I keep refining my craft and reminding myself of my potential, I owe it to myself to keep trying because there may come a day when that hard work pays off.  Success is not immediate, and it won’t come as fast as you may want it to, but there’s always a way that you can make it work. It just might not be in the way you expect.

Pictured is Drew Praskovich. Submitted photo.
Drew Praskovich '19 

Drew Praskovich '19

B.F.A. in Cinema Production

Tell us about your recently published work.

I’m a monthly contributor to Qburgh, a resource for LGBTQ news, events and community in Pittsburgh where I write a variety of pieces from memoirs and personal essays to political profiles. I performed at the inaugural StoryClubPGH event this past February hosted at City of Asylum in the Northside. I have finished a play that I’m polishing so I can get a reading together and work on further drafts toward a full production. I'm also planning a move to New York City this summer with the aim of working within the theatre industry, as well as TV writing.

How did our creative writing courses enhance your cinema studies?

Storytelling is at the heart of both creative writing and cinema. Having a passion for both mediums helped inform the other. My filmmaking side helped me write scenes that felt cinematic and active, while creative writing heavily informed the tone and voice I developed during my cinema studies. Character is another crucial element to both mediums. Building characters from the ground up in creative writing courses gave me deeper insight on ways to direct actors to help connect with their characters in a more nuanced way. 

Pictured is Holly Spencer. Submitted photo.
Holly Spencer '17 

Holly Spencer '17

B.S. in Behavioral Sciences and B.A. in English/Creative Writing

Tell us about your recently published work.

I have been published in several journals and magazines including Pink Panther Magazine, F(r)iction Literary Magazine, Tere Magazine, Barren Magazine and Willow Springs, as well as "Is It Hot In Here, Or Is It Just Me?," an anthology on being a woman over 40, among others. I continue to write the creative nonfiction that I started in graduate school at Chatham University in 2018 as the Words Without Walls Fellow.

What makes Point Park's creative writing program distinctive?

Point Park’s writing program is distinctive because the professors are accomplished writers and poets who use the small-sized classes as a place to educate and nurture the writer with skills of the trade, with an emphasis on compassion and encouragement. Also, the commitment of the professors stood out to me. I felt like my professors gave me the proper skills and insights necessary to make my writing stand out. 

Learn more about Professor Girman in the video below:

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