13 Things I Learned in the First Month of my MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Central Florida

1. Work on my titles.

2. Wake up early and grind on my personal writing first.

3. Write like my life depends on it, because it does. I’m a broke ass student now.

4. Take a nap because I woke up too early. It’s okay. I was a broke ass anyways.

5. Stay woke. Try new things like a metafictional blog post on my school’s MFA blog.

6. Metafiction – a literary device used to call attention to a work’s status as an artifact. It poses questions about the relationship between fiction and reality, usually using irony and self-reflection. – Wikipedia (Think Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Princess Bride, and Deadpool.)

7. Did I shower today?

8. Focus. Metafiction.

9. I learned that I use Facebook as a metafictional platform. My awesome education at the University of Central Florida allows me to realize this, giving me context to something I subconsciously played with for years. My guess: a ton of social media users do this as well, though subconsciously. Each person’s metafiction just sprouts out in unique ways like a digital fingerprint based on will, culture, and individual character traits.

I mean, think about how many people front about their lives either a little or a lot when they share on the inter-webs. Even photos come with filters, our thoughts with hashtags. The question is, “What’s true?” Like when I posted a Facebook status saying, grad school is like going to Taco Bell alone on a Friday afternoon:

I didn’t actually go to Taco Bell. I planned on it, but when I got there, I had so much sweat dripping down my eyeballs and up my noseballs that I didn’t care anymore.

The End

10. I forgot why I wrote this. And why I centered that.

11. And what metafiction means. Screw it. Talk about other things the MFA program has taught me, like setting.

12. Don’t be afraid to construct setting. Setting is just a shape built for the readers.

13.A four dimensional, tie-dyed, figure skating bubble envelopes you. Everyone inside this bubble skates around, carving contours into the ice. You push off. The frozen white crunches beneath your stainless steel blades. You glide, smelling the gasoline tinted cool of a freshly zambonied surface. You pick up speed, turn around, and reach back with your toe pick like the point of a pole vault. You launch your body into the air, twirling into infinity.

14.Did my magick work? Can you figure skate now? It’s okay if you can’t. Sorry. I have a lot to work on as a writer, a reader, a classmate, and an inter-dimensional shaman. For one, I need to work on taking criticism during workshop. Writing is a lifelong journey and the progress I desire will be incremental. So deny that first instinct that labels everyone a racist if they don’t like my writing. I just need to work harder.

15. Work on my dialogue.

16. “No.”

“Shut up.”

17. Don’t be a dick.

18. Stop talking to yourself.

19. Maybe I will.

20. For real. Stop. You’re losing their interest.

21. Maybe you should stop—stop hiding your fear of rejection behind that thin skin of dad jokes. Say what you really mean.

22. Maybe I will.

23. Fine.

24. Fine.


26. The Point: See Below.

27. Forging bonds with classmates—the crazies like you—enhances the MFA experience as we all awkwardly strive to be the nicest people ever to each other. The jiggly, wiggly, tender loving vibes at UCF remind me of my Peace Corps fam, individuals who came from all walks of life and aggregated inside a two year bubble separate from mainstream society where we loved, learned, laughed, cried, and supported.

28. Ends are

hard. Maybe I should have quit at 27.

29. Everyone is confused.

30. Oh crap. I went over 13.

31. Work on my titles.

Peace and Love.

Written by a version of Iljeen Jo


iljeen-bio-picIljeen Jo is

  • A former competitive figure skater
  • An avid practitioner of Muay Thai Kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
  • A lover of all martial arts
  • A terrified comic
  • A Returned Peace Corps Volunteer
  • Half convinced he is an inter-dimensional shaman because he spends so much time writing about one
  • Asking you not to take him seriously



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