Hello everyone! I’m Rebecca Cobb. I’m a first year student in the MFA program, studying Fiction, and so far, it’s been a dream. For those of you who don’t know me, let’s start with a quick rundown. I love hiking (mountains preferable), cats, and buying more books than I could ever need from thrift stores. I started life at UCF as a nursing student back in 2012, but as you might be able to guess, that didn’t work out so well. Luckily, I found my home in UCF’s wonderful English Department, where I majored in Creative Writing. Honestly, the whole changing-my-major thing was last minute. Once nursing didn’t pan out, I spent weeks agonizing over finding a “real” major (I admit, once upon a time, I was that person. I’m sorry. I hate old me, too). I really tried my best to ignore that little link that would lead me to the Creative Writing catalog, but man, did that thing keep popping up in my tabs. If only, if only. Finally, I gave in, giving no thought to the actual program. I had the simple attitude of “Let’s just get a degree and get out.” Even that didn’t work out. I was smitten by day one.
Now enough fluff. What really interests me is the way tragedy affects our writing. This is where the nursing part comes in. During my time as a nursing student, I spent months in a variety of clinicals, which brought me to nursing homes, pediatric cancer units, teen clinics, and intensive care units. I saw a lot of tragedy. There were many patients who were kind enough to let me into their lives and let me experience their sorrow with them. I was told everything from love stories to tales about cheating boyfriends. As much as I try to leave nursing behind, I can never let go of the people who opened up to me. It’s when I’m thinking about them that my writing comes easiest. We write what sticks out to us, what burns in our memory. I have written about death, rejection, poverty—tragic things that follow us throughout our lives, fears that never come to realization. For me, tragedy feeds my writing. The empathetic nature required to be a nurse made me strive to understand my patients, made me imagine what they had been through, and what would follow when they went back home. The stories came from there.
So I want to know how tragedy has had a play in your writing. How does tragedy influence your life? Do you as a writer change when tragedy strikes? Does it help your writing or hinder it? Feel free to introduce yourself and share your own story. And be sure to say hi in the halls.
Rebecca Cobb is a first year MFA student studying fiction at the University of Central Florida, and edits for the Creative Writing MFA Blog. She is currently working on a series of short stories and can be found lurking in the book section at any local thrift store.