Graduate Student Takes on Creative Writing
Meghan Tear Plummer is a graduate student at The University of Alabama. She is currently in the MFA program on campus and loves every minute of it. Plummer grew up in Austin, Texas and moved to Lake Charles, Louisiana when she was 16 years old. She attended college in Tennessee at Sewanee: the University of the South. Plummer studied English for four years and then worked as an assistant editor at The Oxford American magazine. After writing for the magazine for two years, Plummer decided to return to school to hone her skills as a writer. She is now the Creative Writing Program Assistant to CWP Faculty Director, Professor Robin Behn.
What brought you to Alabama?
I wanted to focus on creative writing in graduate school and the MFA program here allows me do that. I want to focus specifically on writing prose, short stories, and essays. I am also working on a novel about oysters. I have an essay out in Glamour magazine about my family, and I am so excited about that. After writing this essay, I realized I enjoyed writing essays and want to continue on this path.
When did you discover your passion for poetry?
Well my dad’s mom was a schoolteacher and a self-proclaimed poet. She always wanted me to be a poet and continue in her footsteps. Whenever I was sitting around the house when I was younger, my parents would put a book in my hand. I just loved reading. Because of my passion for reading and literature, I found that I wanted to do something like that later on in life.
Who or what influenced your writing?
That is a tough question but a good one as well. My peers really influence what I write. I want my writing to be accessible to them as well as to a wide audience. My mom loves detective novels. I always write with her in mind. I don’t really want to write detective novels, but I want to write something she would want to read and enjoy. I also write for the literary craft. When I wrote the essay for Glamour, and they wanted to publish it, I felt like I accomplished something great. Their acceptance of my essay gave me that feeling that people really enjoyed my work.
What is the essay for Glamour about?
The essay is about my brother who is transgender. The essay is about me missing having a sister, my brother’s transition, and the support I gave him. I got his permission first before sending the essay out to be published. The essay is about a complex and potentially painful topic and some people can be uncomfortable talking and hearing about it.
What was it like to transition from undergraduate work to working as an editor and then to return for a MFA?
I did not want to go straight to graduate school, and working for The Oxford American gave me the real world experience I needed. Working for those two years made me appreciate writing more.
What type of writing do you plan to focus on and why?
I did a lot of journalism writing in college and really enjoyed it. I like writing informational stories that reach a wide audience. My journalism experience helped me develop my focus of what I want to write and what I want to focus on in graduate school. I am also focusing on prose in order to explore and expand my writing potential.
What are your duties as the Assistant to the Creative Writing Program Director?
I get to manage authors who come to speak at the university. I also manage the website for the Department of English. I do miss teaching the undergrads, because I feel out of touch with them, but I do really like my position with Professor Behn.
How has working with the Creative Director helped you?
It is very valuable to be in charge. I get to work on the administrative side of the department, which gives me a different perspective on how the department works. It gives me a chance to see if this is a job I would enjoy doing later on.
After you graduate, do you plan to teach or write?
I want to do both. I love teaching, but I really want to write. I am thinking of sticking around Tuscaloosa. I might want to work for a non-profit and write for them. I don’t know much about what that might be like, but I want to do something that combines communication and writing and helping people. I think that writing (whatever that could mean) for a non-profit organization is a great way to do all of these things.