Cracked Lips a.k.a Snow Days in College


So today my college, Warren Wilson, in Asheville, NC is enjoying the benefits of Storm Leon. He’s a temperamental son of gun and to say today is chilly would be a vast understatement. My college campus is blanketed with snow and when I woke up to go to work this morning the pesky flakes felt the need to land in my eyeballs and after my water aerobics class  my wet hair froze.

Classes have been canceled along with my work meetings and car crashes are littering the icy roads. It’s a crazy day and I say all of this to in turn say Snow is beautiful and one of natures wonders, but dear lord its side effects can be messy.

This snowy day inspired me to share something I wrote a couple weeks back when I was in the midst of another snow storm a.k.a The Polar Vortex. (Please keep in mind I wrote this right after rushing into my apartment from the frigid cold, so be gentle when judging.)

Now North Carolina did not have it as bad as many other places in the states but it was still unpleasant. So, please, enjoy this little snippet. If, like me, you’re surrounded by snow today please find some companionship in the words and know that you’re not alone in enduring the elements. And if you live in a non snowy region of the country/world tilt your head back, enjoy the sun kissing your skin and be thankful your lips aren’t cracking 🙂

Cracked Lips

Red nose. Numb, cracked lips. Knees knocking. Oh so very cold. Hurts inside like being struck over and over with a knife.

Do not like.

Howling wind pushes the ice into my veins. Disappear further into layers of feather padded jackets, fuzzy hats, knitted gloves and white flakes. Not to be seen again until the longed for thaw.

Until Next Time,

Be Blessed, Stay Strong and Never Give Up (And Stay Warm),

Grace Hatton

Land of the Living – Roo Panes


In short this song is beautiful. But more than that its aspiring and motivates me to actually live. From what I can tell Roo Panes is a relatively unknown British artist, but trust me once you’ve heard this song you won’t be able to stop listening to him. I dare say he might be the next Ed Sheeran.


Six Things the Warren Wilson MFA Residency Taught Me


#1 – That I Want to Earn My MFA One Day

            One of the reasons I applied to this residency was to get a taste of the MFA experience, so to speak, in the hopes that it would confirm my inclination that I wanted to earn my MFA after my undergraduate creative writing career at Wilson comes to a close. I had already begun an application to Oxford University for their Mst program (an English equivalent to an MFA) when this program began but I knew I could always pull that application. However after experiencing these nine days of lectures, classes and readings I’m sure I will not be pulling that application and I will be continuing my application for the Mst as well as other American programs. This has been a little writing oasis for me. I adore the undergraduate creative writing program and I’m extremely grateful for it, however as an undergraduate I’m not solely focused on my creative writing due to gen ed classes, classes for my other, work requirements, service requirements and the desire to have some kind of social life. An MFA on the other hand is a time to solely focus on the work of creative writing. To not have to think about multiple classes and subjects, but to spend time honing and becoming a master of that one skill is truly a beautiful thing. Just being around that kind of intense study and focus has made me thoroughly excited for my own MFA experience that who knows, if everything works out, may be happening in September.


#2 – That Writers Love Artists

            Last year my painting teacher told me I had two lovers, art and writing, and one day I would have to choose one over the other. I cried that day. I have always been a firm believer in all art forms, visual, performance and the written word and how all of these forms can work together in harmony. To hear my painting teacher say I had to be one type of the artist or the other broke my heart and I decided I was going to prove I could do both with equal passion and dedication. This past semester I began my senior art project, won best in painting in the senior art show and was accepted into this class. Art and writing are two halves of my soul and in the outside of myself I see them as siblings. Obviously they are very different with different skills and attributes but they come from the same gene pool. That all being said it thrilled my little heart to hear so many of the lecturers use the process of creating visual art as an analogy for creating the written word. Additionally all the quotes from artists like Picasso and Monet, especially in C.J Hribal’s lecture, gave me the Goosebumps because I understand and have been in the thick of both creative processes. The intention behind each form is practically identical and the obsession, as C.J pointed out, required for both is equal but as Logenbach pointed out at the beginning of the residency each medium has its out nuances and soul. This reoccurring theme of tying visual and written art together throughout this residency has been a boost for me and reminded me how happy I am to be studying both of these things at this fine institution.


#3 – That there is An Infinite Amount of Things to Read (And Attempting to Read Them Will Make Me a Better Writer)

            My notebook is full of authors and stories mentioned throughout the residency that I haven’t read but know I should. I haven’t always been the best at reading outside of class assigned work, but this residency has shown me that if I want to continue to produce work and be up to date with all the themes and developments within the profession I’ve chosen to pursue I better become a more industrious reader. I’m thrilled though by all the suggestions I’ve received and I can only hope I find the time within the semester to read all of them.

#4- That Form is an Organic, Evolving and a Discussion Worthy Thing

            C.J’s lecture on the novella and the panel on non-fiction really showed me how silly it is to be confined to a form. Yes we all have forms we prefer to work in, but they shouldn’t restrict us from branching out. Many of these lectures have also showed me that throughout history it’s by people pushing the boundaries of genre and form that exciting and new things happen. And as they do we have a right to investigate and discuss them but we should never try stop this natural evolution. I also found it interesting how taboo nonfiction is within the MFA. I find nonfiction the most difficult and honest form since you have nothing to hide behind, it’s you on display for the world and not a character. Therefore I find it perplexing that there isn’t a track for nonfiction in this MFA and many MFA’s around the country.

            Sorry for that little tangent, but to bring it back to form and its organic state I loved what C.J said about length during his lecture that “I believe writers choose forms but length dictates itself, the same way water chooses its depth.” I believe this speaks to the organic nature I’m discussing. We can start off with a plan for a work but we have to be open to the works own natural adaptions and evolutions. If we try to prevent that natural progression we are not being true to the medium or our own artistic values.


#5 – That Presentation Can Make or Break a Work  

            I have never sat through so many readings before therefore I believe I’ve never really noticed this, but after experiencing this MFA I’ve come to see how important presentation is for an author. I had only previously thought of presentation as the layout on the page but after sitting through lectures and readings I now known the oral presentation of a work can make or break a thing. There were numerous readers who I’m sure if I read the work off the page I would have enjoyed but I couldn’t stand the way they were presenting the work orally. Many spoke to fast or too low and the words all ran together, thus giving me no chance to digest them. However others like David Haynes, Dean Bakopolous and Kevin Mclloy spoke with such clarity and precision that I was enthralled throughout their work and therefore I want to read more of their work outside of this program. It’s not a huge thing, but something I will definitely keep in mind for my future as a writer.


#6 – That Obsession, My Own Artistic Devotion and Aesthetic are What Ultimately Matter

            There were many technical terms thrown around this residency that I didn’t fully understand, many authors I didn’t know and many grand philosophical questions presented that I honestly didn’t care about but despite this I never felt uncomfortable or discouraged. I felt as though I was learning, which of course is the point, but beyond that throughout the lectures, readings etc I discovered that while the technical, name game and philosophical are all good the more important things are the obsession, devotion and aesthetic. Almost all of the presenters had an obsession, Mclloy with his sound, Crim with her descent into hell, Manning with his things unsaid and so on and so forth. Many of these authors on this residency have found a particular aspect of the art that they obsess over and more than that they obsess over the art in general and I think it’s that obsession that creates great authors and artists. The obsession in turn creates this furious drive to explore and push and create.

            You’re always thinking about the next story, the next way you can push boundaries and incorporate the nuances you’re enthralled by. And then the obsession and the drive meld to create a particular aesthetic in an artist’s work and that is what creates something beautiful and different from peers. I suppose that’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned. I’ve always known I need to be persistent (as far as creating work) to be successful. But now I think I know I need to push beyond mere persistence in the production of work and push into the persistence of challenging myself. I need to be persistent in becoming obsessed and devoted to pushing themes within my work and the aesthetic I use to present those themes. I don’t have to try fit into something. Indeed this MFA has shown me that it’s better to try break then fit. It’s better to push then just create the same. And in that process I’m probably going to create work I hate but I might also create something entirely new and beautiful .After hearing all the amazing and experienced authors at this residency I somehow feel more confident in my journey as a writer.  I feel as though I’ve been given tools and pathways to become a better and more honest writer.

* I wrote this as my evaluation of what I learned during the 2014 Winter Residency of the Warren Wilson MFA program. I wrote it for the undergraduate class that accompanied the residency.

#100 Book Project – The Distant Hours


Book Title: The Distant Hours

Author: Kate Morton

Number in #100Book Project: 5

Level of Recommendation: High

Favourite Quote:Mrs Bird smiled at me as I arrived at her side. “They can surprise us, can’t they, our parents? The things they got up to before we were born”

“Yes” I said.

“Almost like they were real people once.” ‘

Okay so confession time I actually had three favourite sections from this book. This was the first on below are my two other favourites. I just couldn’t pick one over the rest. So enjoy all of them, hopefully as much as I did!

#2 “Juniper had wondered about sex, she’d written about it, the things she’d imagined she might do and say and feel. Nothing, though, had prepared her for the fact that love might follow it closely, to fall in love. Juniper understood why people referred to it as a fall. The brilliant, swooping sensation, the divine imprudence, the complete loss of free will.”

#3 “All houses have hearts; hearts that have loved, hearts that have been broken. The heart at the center of Milderhurst was larger than most and it beat more powerfully. It thumped and paused, raced and slowed in the small room at the top of the tower. The room where Raymond Blythe’s many times great-grandfather had sweated over sonnets for Queen Elizabeth; from which a great-aunt had escaped to sweet sojourn with Lord Byron; and upon whose brick ledge his mother’s shoe had caught as she leaped from the little archer’s window to meet her death in the sun-warmed moat below, her final poem fluttering behind her on a sheet of fine paper.”

Quick Review: A sprawling and enthralling novel that follows the story of two families the Blythes and the Churchills. Edie Churchill is the opening and ending of the book with her view in the beginning and her conclusion in the end. But its a story with multiple main characters and points of views. A novel that explores the sins of parents, the unresolved pain of a child, the thrill of unraveling a mystery, the horror when the mystery doesn’t have the ending you expected, the ecstasy of falling in love and how death, loss and heartbreak can send you mad in a variation of ways. The Distant Hours is a length but intricately written gothic mystery novel that will take a hold of you right from the beginning and won’t let go until the very end.

Longer Review: This book was given to me as a present from my roommates Mum because she thought I would like it because of his dark themes and the mystery aspect. When I read the description of the book I was honestly a little skeptical but as soon as I began to read I was hooked. Morton does an amazing job of connecting three different periods of time with fluidity and style. These three periods being the 90’s period where Edie Churchill, a book editor, witnesses her mother cry over a letter from Milderhurst castle (from the 40’s) that was lost in the post and then in turns begins to explore all the secrets of Milderhrst Castle, which includes interacting with the three elderly Blythe sisters. The 1900’s period which explores Raymond Blythe and his relationship with his young daughters as well as the history of him writing his famous novel (fake of course) The True History of the Mud Man and the 40’s-50’s period where the Blythe sisters are coming of age in their own ways, Edie’s mother Meredith lives at Milderhurst as a war orphan, Juniper falls in love and many important events take place that define the sisters and Meredith Churchill for the rest of their lives.

Morton manages to balance all these different time periods by constantly rotating the time period and the point of view at each chapter change within the novel. Therefore the reader never feels bogged down. You move through briskly and as Edie Churchill tries to put together the mysteries of Milderhurst, the major one being why Juniper Blythe has gone crazy in her old age (she’s reenacts the same night every day, the night her fiancée left her in the 50’s) the reader takes glues from all these different vantage points and pieces the puzzle together along with Edie, sometimes getting glues before her and sometimes receiving the glues as Edie discovers them.

Morton does an excellent job of fleshing out each character, giving them each a very distinct personality and history as well as each character managing to have secrets from their family members on some level. She also manages to make Milderhurst in itself a great and foreboding character through her description of its physicality but also through the way so much pain and fear is tied to different areas of the home.

Additionally just on a pure language level Morton’s prose is vivid, compelling and lovely throughout.

But the real skill of this novel is the slow reveal of the big secret (why Juniper is crazy) and how all the little secrets along the way were catalysts for the reason behind the big secret. Also the twist at the end is completely unexpected. It made me audibly gasp and I haven’t been that shocked by a twist ending in a very long time.

This novel is dense read, but is most certainly worth your time, especially if you enjoy a good mystery, tracking multiple connections in different time periods and the slow reveal of secrets. I highly recommend Morton’s The Distant Hours and I’m very happy my roommates Mum picked a book for me that I might not have chosen for myself but none the less thoroughly enjoyed.