21. Flying & Throwing Pots: Thoughts on the Interdisciplinary Writing Life with Alisa Hagerty Miller

Alisa_Hagerty_Miller

Alisa Hagerty Miller recently completed her Master’s in Interdisciplinary Studies from Western New Mexico University with major concentrations in English and Writing. Before enrolling in graduate school, she worked for ten years as a commercial pilot. In January 2015, Alisa represented WNMU’s graduate division in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and presented a research poster, “Interdisciplinary Education in Action,” for New Mexico Legislature’s first annual Graduate Education Day. She is completing a final revision of her first young adult fantasy novel, while actively submitting short stories and essays for publication about the flying life and other subjects. Look for one of her latest CNF pieces in the spring edition of WNMU’s literary journal, Twisted Vine. [28:57].


Along with discussing the impact of Alisa’s flying life on her writing life, her experience at WNMU, and her publishing aspirations, we also talk about post-MFA teaching opportunities. Lacy teaches three college-level writing classes online; Audrey is in the midst of an MA in English Literature at the University of Oslo; and Alisa remained at her school for an extra semester in order to pick up some important literature-based classes, potentially making her a more attractive candidate for teaching jobs. We hope these insights help you, dear listeners!

Highlights

“I got into flying because I thought it would fuel my writing life… and I also had this fantasy that pilots had all this time off!”

“I found [WNMU] by providence and by luck… I didn’t really see a clear path back into education as I got older. I think it’s a common thing for people in their 30s and 40s: They’re like, I’ve put [grad school] off for this long, am I ever going to do this?”

On Interdisciplinary Studies…

“[IS] gives students the opportunity to design their own degree plans, usually in two or three disciplines… and the goal is to ultimately draw connections between those disciplines.”

“I think my whole life had been interdisciplinary. Flying is just about the most interdisciplinary career I’ve ever encountered.”

Management Information Systems: “A branch of computer science; you don’t have to code, but you learn about really cool technical concepts and organizations using technology.”

“I think that education should be dynamic. That flexibility [at WNMU] was really important to me.”

On preparing for a teaching career post-grad school…

“That’s something important for writers to consider! I wish someone had told me from the outset, Hey! If you want to teach–if there’s any chance whatsoever–think about getting into the English Department.”

On her writing process…

“I’m a binge writer… Talk to everyone else, Oh no! You have to write everyday. I don’t. I really don’t! I need time to go hiking and–what does Annie Dillard say?–to live out in the wide band of beauty. I need to do that for long stretches to feel re-energized again.”

Who’s Who

Western New Mexico University MAIS Program

CreateSpace – Self-publication service

Kindle Direct Publishing – Amazon’s self-publication service

99Designs – Crowd-sourced book cover design

Bookemon – Self-publication service

Rockstar Learning – A start-up with the goal of producing apps promoting classic literature for young people, getting kids back into learning

Closing Quotes

I am sure that some are born to write as trees are born to bear leaves: for these, writing is a necessary mode of their own development. If the impulse to write survives the hope of success, then one is among these. If not, then the impulse was at best only pardonable vanity, and it will certainly disappear when the hope is withdrawn. ~ C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves, The Letters of C.S. Lewis, (28 August 1930)

 

If you like metaphysics, throw pots. ~ Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

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