Creative Writing at The New School

Alex is a Fiction/Nonfiction dual MFA student at the New School, a WriteOn Teaching Fellow, public speaking teacher, and the host of TNS After Hours. She is currently sheltering-in-place in her Northern California hometown with her parents.

1. Who is your favorite villain, and who is your favorite protagonist in literature?

My favorite villains are all the evil stepmothers, witches, and hags in fairytales. Without them, we wouldn’t have stories.

My favorite protagonist as of late is Harry Potter. Not that I like him so much. He’s super annoying in The Order of the Phoenix. But I like that I can fully see him. The audiobooks read by Jim Dale are my soothing balm. I can’t count how many times I’ve listened to the series. I’m amazed by the new things I hear even now and how JK Rowling created another world I can escape to. I also grew up as the books came out. It might be just nostalgia. One day I will have a goldfish and name him Harry.

2. When did you know you were a writer?

Think the “I’m a writer” moment happened during my first semester of undergrad, or at least, the “I really like this and want to get better at it” moment. I went to Hampshire College and during my first semester took a class called ‘Writing About Sports’ taught by professor and fishing enthusiast Will Ryan. It was a nonfiction writing workshop where we wrote essays about our own experience with sports, any and all sports, fishing included, while reading books like The Best American Sports Writing of the Century and Friday Night Lights. It was the first time in my life I was asked to write about my own life besides my personal essay for my college application. My final paper for the class was on my grandfather. He was an amazing athlete and had passed away the week before I started Hampshire. I was already an avid journaler, not a word but should be, since I was in middle school. But this class made me think that maybe others would want to hear my stories, they didn’t have to only live in my notebooks, that I too could be a storyteller.  

3. What are you currently working on?

I write mostly about my family. I don’t think I’ll ever stop but it would be nice to be done one day. I’m a dual fiction/nonfiction student so the project has two forms at the moment: a series of short stories based on my time living in my father’s small Florida Panhandle town and a collection of essays exploring my grandmother who was institutionalized for Hysteria in the early 1960s, a family story of how my Sicilian immigrate great grandfather killed an African American man to be accepted into White Southern Culture, and my own personal obsession with wanting to be a mother.  

4. How has your writing process changed over the years?

My time at the New School has made me more rhythmic. I write every day even though most days it’s junk. I need external pressure and encouragement to write. I thrive off deadlines and cheerleaders. New School has given me both. Grateful to my writing buddies and professors.

5. Describe your writing style in one sentence.

Obsessive, a bit angsty with a thread of dark humor, always sifting in search of what I don’t know yet because I haven’t found it.

Five Questions, by Nicole L. Drayton. Nicole is a writer, screenwriter and independent filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY.  She holds a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts from The New School, and currently works for the university in the MFA in Creative Writing Program office.  

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