This profile originally appeared in the Winter 2012 issue of Bowdoin magazine.
Bowdoin Major: Sociology
Current residence: Santa Monica, California
Title: Disney/ABC TV Writing Fellow
On the Writing Fellow selection: Each applicant has to submit a sample of their writing, specifically a spec script (an episode of a currently airing show), as well as a personal essay, bio, and rÃ©sumÃ©. From a field of around 1,600-1,800, about 50 are selected for phone interviews, and then 25 are brought in to a two-day interview process that includes one-on-one sessions with the fellowship staff, a panel interview with executives and writers from across Disney and ABC, and a mixer with all of the other candidates and Disney/ABC executives. After the interviews, the staff selects 8 writers for the one-year fellowship.
Bowdoin influences on my writing: Spanish Professor Enrique Yepes, and the courses and independent study I had with him. I mostly wrote nonfiction personal essays while pursuing a creative writing graduate degree at the University of Southern California, and I’d constantly refer back to Professor Yepes’s class “The Gaze,” where he challenged us to not just glance, but to really look at the world, reflecting on life events through a prism that reveals the bitter, the sweet, the heartache, and the humor in every situation.
What I value most in writing: When I write, I’m most inspired by “the Wizard behind the curtain”-that is, what it is inside each of us that motivates our beliefs and actions. I’m fascinated by the disconnect between intention and action and the misunderstandings that occur because of it.
What I value most in others’ writing, and what I struggle with most in my own, is the concept of restraint. Sometimes I feel like I need to throw everything but the kitchen sink (and very often the sink as well) into a script in order to ensure that what I’m trying to say is definitely understood by the reader/audience. But leaving certain puzzle pieces out–“restraint”–can open up a story to many more possibilities.
On my nightstand now: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and Paper Tigers by Wesley Yang
Paperback or Kindle: Paperback. I spend so much of my days staring at some manner of electronic device that I can’t imagine reading books on yet another one. I also love that earthy smell of book pages.
Morning ritual: I love walking around my neighborhood listening to “This American Life” and “Radiolab” podcasts. Being a writer means a lot of time cooped up in the house or the office, so getting outside is essential to maintain one’s sanity. I also come up with a lot of my ideas while listening to these stories.
Best season to be in Maine:Autumn. Living in Southern California makes me yearn for autumn in Maine. September and its dappled sunlight; October and its crisp air, turning and falling leaves; November and its windy, bare-branched days right before the first snow falls. Something about the way the season can change so much in just a few months always makes me feel like exciting changes are in the air.
Favorite place to visit: The south island of New Zealand is the most amazing place I’ve ever been. It’s tiny, and yet there’s such a broad range of terrain.