Lacey Conley

Class of 2012, BFA Creative Writing and BS Psychology

Lacey Conley

What was your favorite part of studying Creative Writing at UE?

Without a doubt, the (brilliant! compassionate! hilarious!) faculty and the community created in proximity to these dynamos. The mentoring I experienced at UE went well beyond traditional course-advising and prepared me for all aspects of the writing life: how to submit my work to journals, how to draft a book proposal, how to curate panels and other sessions for conferences, and even how to apply my literary skill set to conventionally unrelated fields. (This is so often overlooked: that good writers are needed in science, in business, in policy, in medicine...) The sense of possibility, and support, I've felt in the UE fold is immeasurable—even as a writer, words fail to express.

What did you experience in UE’s CRW department that feels special/unique to our program?

Beyond the obvious—the chance to study abroad in the Summer Writing Program at Harlaxton, the lively culture of student readings and Coffee Hours—one of the most extraordinary aspects of UE's Creative Writing program is its balance of literary scholarship and studio practicum. So many programs are weighted in one direction or the other, cracking the whip “Produce, produce, produce!” or foregoing study of the Canon, but UE's program emphasizes both in equal, rigorous measure. The result is a foundation of strong writing technique and critical analysis, with the freedom to follow out individual projects and interests and deepen them through workshops, independent studies, and internships. For example, while at UE, I realized a passion for humor in nonfiction—from forefather Twain to David Sedaris, with ties to onstage reading and stand-up—and developed an independent study on the topic with professors (and comedians-in-residence) Rob Griffith and Paul Bone.

What was your favorite Creative Writing class and why?

Intro to Creative Nonfiction and Copyediting, both with Rob Griffith. The former was my first real look at the genre and showed me all that nonfiction can be, from personal essay and memoir to biography, from science writing and food writing and humor to something approaching journalism, reportage. The latter gave my prose a needed reboot—looking closely at the parts of a sentence made me consider more carefully the sentences I construct myself—and set the course for my professional career.

What are you up to now?

I am currently a freelance copyeditor in New York City. Most recently, I worked for Wall Street-based ad agency Droga5, correcting TV, print, and web content for clients like JP Morgan Chase, Google, and Diet Coke. I love it! Copyediting is part of an ideal work/life balance for me. Bringing a piece (literary, academic, professional) to its full potential, helping others find and refine their voice, brings me great pride. And it makes me a more fearless editor of my own work. Once you are elbow-deep in a sentence (moving parts, extracting, recasting), it is much easier to turn the scalpel on yourself.

Upon graduation from UE’s writing program, I completed my MFA in Nonfiction Writing at Columbia University in New York. I met my partner in my first class at Columbia and spent a short stint after the program living with him in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, consulting on and editing his book project. Now that we have resettled in Manhattan, I am back to work on my first essay collection.

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