Student Stories

Josh Hammond_762x320

Putting Fear to Bed: Josh Hammond MFAC ’16

Hard work isn’t a foreign concept to Josh Hammond, a 2016 graduate of Hamline’s Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults (MFAC), who has been a math teacher for thirteen years. But hard work that is strictly fun? Well, he had not encountered that before.

“It’s a lot of work,” Hammond said about Hamline’s program. “But it’s fun work.”

While Hammond loves teaching, after nearly a dozen years of it, he realized that he needed another creative outlet. When his wife showed him an advertisement for Hamline’s MFAC program—and gently pushed him by also providing the application deadline—Hammond decided that he would apply.

“The first residency just sealed the deal,” Hammond said. “I met my cohort, and they were all so funny and warm and brilliant, and I had so much fun.”

Even though Hammond’s life is busy with his full-time teaching job, wife, and three kids, he said he always finds the time to do the writing that he enjoys so much.

“The faculty is so generous and so brilliant that you don’t want to let them down,” Hammond said with a laugh. “So, you know, if they say ‘I want you to write these pages and to read these books,’ you don’t want to be like, ‘Well, I didn’t do that.’”

To Hammond, the amount of work the program requires is not only justified by everything he has learned but also by the excitement and encouragement of the faculty.

“When I started, I hadn’t been in school for so long that I wasn’t very confident,” Hammond shared. “I kind of felt like maybe I was a poser, and what I needed was someone to help me dive into that creativity and to give myself permission to do this. Or even think that I could do this.”

“The faculty made me feel like I was making progress,” Hammond continued. “On my first assignment, I submitted 80 pages, and my advisor said, ‘That’s great, now get it down to 20.’ And it was a challenge, but I got it down to 25. I was so proud of myself, and she was just as excited for me.”

The community Hammond found at Hamline has not only helped him with his writing skills—it has also helped anchor him for what comes after graduation too.

“You do make a lot of connections here at Hamline. The faculty invites agents and editors, and I’ve actually queried some of those agents and have had some promising back-and-forths,” Hammond said. “Kid lit publishing is a small community, and these relationships are very important. If I didn’t come to the writing program, I wouldn’t have even known where to start.”

In addition to that, Hammond said, “It’s just fun to get to know people who have the same interests as you.”

When asked about what inspired him to write children’s literature, Hammond brought it back home.

“I have my own children, and one of the best things I’ve done with them is bedtime storytelling. I read books with them every night, but then I started telling them my own stories, and they wanted more of those stories,” Hammond said, “It’s very cliché to say that it’s all about the children, but with kids’ books, it really is.”

“I would love to have a book out there that parents read to their kids and just feel like I’m contributing something good to the world,” Hammond continued.

So, is there anything Hammond would have done differently if he went through the program a second time around? Only if he had the ability to slow down time.

“When I first met my cohort, at that moment, I thought, ‘This program is going to go by too quickly.’ And now I’m two years down the road, ready to graduate, and I was right—this program went by too quickly.”

Find out more about Hamline’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults degree on the Creative Writing Programs website or contact Hamline's Graduate Admission Office to learn more about joining the Hamline community.