The art of writing is, at its heart, a solitary endeavor. Ideas and inspiration often take form in groups, there’s no question of that, but when it comes time to finally turn dream into action, the door closes, the computer turns on (or, perhaps, for a few of you, a tablet of paper and sharpened pencil gets pulled from a drawer somewhere…and maybe even a few of you hunker down in front of a typewriter…) and the writer must reckon with the great white space alone. One of our aims in this program, the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts, is to create a nexus for that intersection of idea and execution: a place where you can learn while we provide you with the tools to succeed long past your graduation date.
Our Low Residency program, the #1 ranked Low Residency MFA screenwriting program in the nation, is the first of its kind in the University of California system and is designed to provide you with not just a terminal degree, but with a path towards publication and production. We offer five genres of emphasis — fiction, nonfiction, playwriting, poetry, and screenwriting — and an opportunity to find your voice in more than one discipline, as each writer is expected to try their hand in at least one other genre from their major. It’s a multidisciplinary approach meant to give each of you the opportunity to surprise yourself, to find words in unexpected places. Workshops are small and provide you with an opportunity to work one-on-one with your professors and to focus on your writing in a creative atmosphere. You’ll also be expected to read, and to read, and to read — both to understand what has come before you, and to appreciate literature, but also to develop the critical eye all artists need. You’ll also get the opportunity to work on The Coachella Review, our national literary journal.
No work exists in a vacuum and, to that end, our particular philosophy is simple: We will read and critique your work honestly and professionally with an eye, always, towards improving you and your writing. This is all made easier by virtue of a faculty who’ve not only crossed these very roads before, but have done so with great success. They’ve been New York Times bestsellers, Los Angeles Times bestsellers, and Amazon bestsellers.They are NEA and Guggenheim Fellows and multiple winners of the O. Henry and Pushcart Prize. They appear in the Best American Short Stories, Best American Essays and Best American Poetry. They’ve been finalists for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and they’ve edited the Los Angeles Times Book Review. Their work has appeared on the big screen, the stage and in cartoon form. They’ve written and produced hundreds and hundreds of hours of network television. They’ve won California Book Awards, Nevada Press Association awards, the Bakeless Prize, the William Carlos Williams Award, and they’ve sat on the board of the Pulitzer Prize. And that just scratches the surface. Our professors are not merely teachers — they are professionals whose work is considered to be the very best in their field. And they are dedicated to helping you reach those same lofty heights, as a writing program is finally only as good as the students they graduate.
Our student body is wide and diverse and includes writers in the middle of their careers – many of our students are already widely published and produced — alongside those just getting their foot in the door. Many of our students have found their first blush with publishing and film or TV success while still in the program, due in large part to our dedication to bringing top professionals in all fields to read their work during residency. As you look through our site, you’ll be able to read about many of our students and their accomplishments and I’d be happy to put you in touch with current students or alumni who can tell you more about their experiences in our program.
UC Riverside’s Palm Desert residency home, the Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, is just minutes from downtown Palm Springs, where the spirit of old Hollywood is still alive and well, but where you’ll also find the quiet inspiration of the desert at sundown, where all things seem possible and impossible, where the voices start talking to you, telling you their stories, and moving you back towards that computer, that tablet of paper, that decades-old Olivetti, in hopes of filling that white space…or out to the pool to think it all through.
We hope you’ll join us in our low residency M.F.A. program, to learn from the best and to become the best.