By Minda Honey

Hello Lighthouse Writers, welcome to my second member dispatch from the MFA program at the University of California, Riverside! (Read the first installment here.)

On Sundays, I walk a few blocks from my home in downtown Riverside to the library. I pass century-old Victorian houses, the stone and ivy walls of the Mission Inn, and a little red and gold Chinese pagoda. In the basement of the library, I lead a memoir workshop for the Inlandia Institute. For 90 minutes, with nothing more than pen and paper, we create magic in that room.

And, in a way, I’ve come full circle.

MindaHoneyIn the faces of my students I see myself, the self who sat in the many rooms of Lighthouse, sometimes at a table, sometimes in a chair with my notebook in my lap, and strived to become a better writer. And in me they see what I saw in my teachers at Lighthouse: someone to guide me, someone to give me courage, and someone to tell me I could do it when I thought I couldn’t.

The MFA program at the University of California, Riverside has absolutely made me a stronger writer, but almost as important, it has helped me expand my network and put me in a position to take advantage of many writing opportunities. Since I last wrote, I’ve faced the challenges of leading a literary magazine, I’ve had a few pieces published with the L.A. Review of Books (thanks to a course on writing literary reviews), and I’ve become involved with the Inlandia Institute, a nonprofit literary center in the Inland Empire.

Writing is often a solitary task, but I learned early on in my pursuit to become a writer that it’s a lot less lonely if you have a community of writers you can call your own. This lesson rang true when I was warmly welcomed into the literary community Lighthouse has fostered in Denver.

As more and more writers consider MFA programs, I think it’s important that writers who are more settled in their lives, who maybe can’t pick up and move to a new city or who don’t have the luxury of taking a couple of years away from their career to focus on their craft, still have spaces where they can grow as writers and that their voices and narratives are not lost. The path post-MFA is often an uncertain one, but I hope to continue my role as both a writer in the community and a creator of community for writers.

Minda Honey is an MFA graduate student at the University of California, Riverside. She is writing a memoir, An Anthology of Assholes, about her time spent out West squandering her youth on the wrong men. Follow her escapades on Twitter: @MindaHoney.