guest blogger: graduate Patricia Florio

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Patricia Florio is a recent grad of the Wilkes MA and MFA creative nonfiction writing programs. She lives in Ocean Grove NJ and is a travel writer for StripedPot.com. For her nonfiction thesis, Patricia worked with drafting mentor Rashidah Ismaili Abubakr and revision mentor Phil Brady. She has provided this guest post today to talk about her experience with the Wilkes program and share her path to publication! Patricia has seen two of her short stories, “All in the Game” and “In The Secret Service,” accepted for anthology publication and very soon her thesis memoir, My Two Mothers, will be released with Phyllis Scott Publishing.

Without further ado, welcome Patricia Florio…

***

My time at Wilkes seems forever ago and sometimes it seems like I’m still there in the thick of writing, observing, listening and being a part of the moment-by-moment creativity that only a program like the Wilkes low-residency MA/MFA can offer.

I had never gone away to college. Actually, I had never gone anywhere without my husband and four children, since it seems like I was a child when I had my first, a set of twin boys, and then two more children over the years. Wilkes’ program offered me that part of life that I felt I missed out on in my college education. I had gone to school, it seems, most of my life: first, conquering the skill of becoming a court reporter in a crash-course program at the College of Staten Island in 1983 through 1985.  

While working in the federal court in Brooklyn, my desire heightened to push further from an associate’s degree at Brookdale Community College to a bachelor’s of arts program. It took seven years to complete that program at Rutgers University on a part-time basis. When I found out about the Wilkes programs, it was a no-brainer. I was already in for a pound of education. Why not go the whole nine yards?

That first Friday night at Wilkes, I knew I had come to the right place. There were other scared people like myself scurrying around the hallways. There were others who were betting their talent cut it far away in this university in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. I knew that night I could stop saying, “I’m a court reporter” and finally say I’m a writer.

J Michael Lennon and Nancy McKinley are so perfect for the 501 cohorts: the gentle lead. They are so perfect in their element of the new and brave writers who first walk in the door. I could have shared anything with them like going into a confessional. I was able to write my most inner-kept secrets, my passion for writing, all of the thoughts that I have had circling around in my head for years and years, dying to come out and to have its own voice.  

This Wilkes program is a special program. Those of us participating in the programs at Wilkes know it, even though sometimes it can’t be defined as to what it is that has captivated us. Experiential things are hard to put a title on, or words to, almost like a religious retreat. It’s what’s going on inside a person that makes them push harder during the twelve hour days of the first cohort, taking every moment into your pores, absorbing it all, going back to the hotel exhausted and coming back for more the next day.

I’ve been lucky, although I just don’t want to put it on luck: being at the right place at the right time, having a good story to tell, being able to tell that story with the uniqueness of my words and with the passion of coming from a Sicilian family, whom I wanted to share with the world, a publisher asked to publish my memoir/thesis.  Signing a contract and understanding what I’m entitled to by selling my story, all of that came from the classes at Wilkes.

My outside reader, Lucy Carson, played a very special role. She said, “This is not for a New York market.” So I took my story to California. It seems silly because my story is about growing up in Brooklyn, New York.  But I listened to the words of her advice. So sometime this year My Two Mothers, my thesis/memoir, now broken down into a collection of short stories will be available from Phyllis Scott Publishing (San Diego CA).

There’s always work that’s going to have to be done when you’re a writer. I will have to market my book, have book parties, set up readings and book signings, make myself known to the public and the most important thing for me is to keep writing.  I’m in the midst of writing my first novel, called Hats off to Larry.  It’s a fun story and intriguing at the same time. It’s interesting what your creative mind can come up with. All I can say is that I am the beneficiary of the Wilkes University Creative Writing Program. And that’s really something!

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One Response to “guest blogger: graduate Patricia Florio”

  1. kindalikeapoet Says:

    This is a great post and I agree! The program is fantastic.

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