Creative Writing at The New School

Writing spaces are as varied as the individuals who occupy them. The range of “space” we enter for our writing practice is a wide, wild field from tidy to random, from Maya Angelou in a sparse hotel room to Marcel Proust in bed, from Jane Austen at the kitchen table to you: what does your writing space look like? Push upward into the atmosphere with second year MFA in fiction student Kellene O'Hara.

Where do you write?

I can write anywhere, any time. Writing isn’t just the physical act of writing. It’s watching, listening, experiencing. Sometimes, I intentionally go to places to write, like when I hiked to Sunfish Pond over the summer to just spend the day writing in the sun. Other times, I’ll just write at home, on my couch or, occasionally, at my desk. But when it comes time to edit? A desk is a serious place, a place for editing. 

Stand, sit or other?

Mostly I’ll be sitting, usually with my legs crisscrossed because I’m short and I hate it when my feet dangle from unnecessarily high chairs. Who determines the standard height of chairs anyway? I want to have a word. 

What is your writing practice?

I like to write when I am not thinking. So, I primarily write at night when I’m too tired to think anymore, after I’ve had a long day and I’m exhausted and I have a headache and I just can’t anymore. The best writing sessions are the ones I don’t even remember, when I just wrote and I didn’t think about what I was doing or why. Then, when I wake up in the morning, I look at what I’ve written and I’m always like – Oh my gosh! Did I really write that? Sometimes, it’s good thing. Mostly it’s not. But there’s always something I can pull from the text that serves as a seed for something else to grow. 

What are your favorite procrastinations?

Daydreaming. My imagination never stops so I am always entertained. 

We live in interesting times, which book/author keeps you sane/grounded?

I return to books all of the time, for many reasons. But never to stay grounded. I want books that push me upward into the atmosphere, books that twist and turn everything I knew about reality, books that tremble terribly and say, “I’m here!” If you’re looking to shake up your reading list, I’ll suggest some of the books I’ve read recently: Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin or Oona by Alice Lyons or The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa. I’m always inspired by Renee Gladman’s Event Factory. 

What is your new skill learned during the shutdowns of the Pandemic

I watched YouTube tutorials on step-by-step paintings and I tried. But I learned that I probably won’t make a career as a painter.  

What is your dream writing space?

I would like to write in a void where there is nothing, not even me, and where language exists solely as language because I want to see what language does and how it does it without us. The void would be empty of everything and, through words, would be able to contain everything. I’d also like to write in a place between all time so that I could write in the time before time and, simultaneously, I could write in the present and, simultaneously, I could write at the end of time so I could write the final words. Luckily, I’m a writer and, when I put pen to paper, I can write anywhere and everywhere into existence. 

Kellene O’Hara is currently pursuing her MFA in Fiction at The New School. Her writing has been published in The Fourth River, Marathon Literary Review, South Florida Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. Find her on Twitter @KelleneOHara and online at kelleneohara.com.

About The Author

Founded in Greenwich Village in 1931, Creative Writing at The New School continues to promote, engender, and shape innovative literature.