Joshua Isard grew up in the Philadelphia area, earned his BA in English at Temple University, and then went on to study creative writing at the University of Edinburgh and literature at University College London. His short stories have appeared in The Broadkill Review, Press 1, Northwind, and Storychord, and his first novel, Conquistador of the Useless ,was published by Cinco Puntos Press in 2013. He is currently the director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Arcadia University in Glenside, PA. He lives outside Philadelphia with his wife, newborn daughter, and two cats.
Josh will be leading a single day Sunday Afternoon feature called MFA Programs: Their Secrets and Benefits in which he’ll discuss the ways to prepare applications for best results, what really happens in MFA workshops, and the essential things students gain which they often don’t expect.
We asked Josh to share his experiences as a writer. Here is what he had to say:
PWC: How has your personal writing community influenced and assisted you?
JI: Having a small group of writers that I trust to critique my work is extraordinarily important. As I’ve worked on any major project it’s been essential to not only get feedback, but to trust it. Any glance at the acknowledgements page in a book will reveal that writing isn’t really the solitary act some people think it is, that’s it’s a conversation—first with a small group and then, after publication, with an audience. I’m very thankful for the writers I know, who are so willing to help me, and whom I’ll always be available to help as well.
PWC: Where do you draw your inspiration?
JI: I take things that happen to me and extrapolate them. I think this is pretty common, but what’s difficult is, once you decide to write fiction based on reality, to let it transform during the composition process such that the end result is almost completely different from the nugget of reality which inspired it. Real life inspires my fiction, it is not the basis of my fiction. That is an important distinction.
PWC: What are some hints for getting your butt in the seat and your hands on the keyboard?
JI: It’s really I quite simple: block off the time and do it. Between TV, taking pictures of cats to post online, and washing dishes, there are too many distractions, so it’s really all about the discipline of sticking to the schedule.
In this regard, it’s also important not to fetishize writing, to think you can only do it in a certain place or time, that you have to wait for the muse. When you hit the chair and have the time, you have to write. No excuses.
Ready to meet Joshua Isard and find out the exciting doors MFA programs can open? Register for the 2014 Philadelphia Writers’ Conference HERE!