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Murray State's MFA Program Offers Free Community Writing Workshop This Summer


Whether you have been writing a while and have written short stories or a novel, or if you're interested in getting started, with a handful of ideas and a blank notebook, Murray State's Low-Residency MFA Program offers a Free Community Writing Workshop July 11 & 12 called "Give Wings to Your Words." On Sounds Good, Kate Lochte meets its leader, faculty member Julia Watts, author of thirteen novels including Finding H.F., The Kind of Girl I Am, and Kindred Spirits. Watts says the workshop is an opportunity to generate work and spark ideas to develop into stories, poems or plays.

Julia Watts finds the most useful way of teaching writing is to create a process in which you can be kind and forgiving to yourself throughout. A lot of people struggle with the carrying out of their ideas and end up with desk drawers full of unfinished work. She recommends just writing things down on paper and to not be too hard on yourself. It's okay if the quality of your first draft is imperfect, revising and refining can come later. She also teachers people to be mutually supportive of each other as writers. Having people learn how to look at each others work and evaluate others work can build a valuable community and improve your own writing, too.

Now working on book number 14, Watts says she writes compulsively, every day, in small stretches of time. She's published novels for both adults and young adults. Her most recent book is the adult novel Hypnotizing Chickens, published earlier this year. Like many of her books it has a Kentucky setting. Hypnotizing Chickens is a humorous piece centered around a family trying to understand each other and a love story with lessons on parenting, self and identity.

Watts' first novel was published in 1996, and she says she got lucky with an independent press. She's had agents, but negotiated many of the deals herself. Publishing has changed radically over the past 10 - 15 years, she says. What we used to think of as a "published book" is different now with greater access to online publishing and marketing resources. She recommends that if you are thinking about self-publishing, you should still hire someone to edit the book. It's important to have a professional look at the book because you want the final product, whether it's an ebook or printed, to be as professional and polished as possible.

To register for the Julia Watts' community writing workshop July 11th and 12th at Murray State University, email Nita King at or phone at 270-809-4727. The deadline's been extended to June 15th with a target registration of 14 or 15 students and there are still slots available.

Matt Markgraf joined the WKMS team as a student in January 2007. He's served in a variety of roles over the years: as News Director March 2016-September 2019 and previously as the New Media & Promotions Coordinator beginning in 2011. Prior to that, he was a graduate and undergraduate assistant. He is currently the host of the international music show Imported on Sunday nights at 10 p.m.
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