I began taking part-time undergraduate writing classes at the University of Pittsburgh around 1998 while working full-time as a grille man at Wendy’s (a fast-food chain) in downtown Pittsburgh. I lived in Oakland, the same neighborhood that I live in now. As time went on I worked fewer and fewer hours at Wendy’s and took more and more classes (by applying for and getting student loans) at Pitt until I finally quit Wendy’s and I became a full-time undergraduate student at Pitt. I got my BA in April of 2003, applied to the MFA fiction writing program, was awarded a fellowship (K. LeRoy Irvis) on the basis of the double-spaced-50-typed-pages-on-one-side of flash fiction stories I submitted with my application and entered the graduate writing program in September of 2003. I was 57 years old.
Yes, those were the days my friends. Being accepted to the graduate writing program of a world-class university (and being awarded the fellowship which you could not apply for) was very important to my sense of self worth. See my sense of self worth was all tied up in seeing myself as a writer. After years and years and years of rejection notices (they nearly drove me to distraction), my flash fiction stories were finally being published on a regular basis (at $30.00 a pop) in a local (newspaper size) print weekly (The Front) that covered politics and culture; but it was winning the fellowship and being accepted into the MFA fiction writing program at Pitt that validated me, in my own mind, as a writer.
And once I became a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, I discovered blogging and got my first computer when I got my MFA degree in 2006.
Hail to Pitt!
This is Guy Hogan reporting for the Pittsburgh Flash Fiction Gazette.