Creative Writing

Where I Write: Michell Kim

Where I Write, a series of short interviews with current students, faculty, and alumni of the Creative Writing Program. It is a discussion of place in writing. What our writing spaces look like can be as varied as the physical spaces that exist (or don’t!) in New York and beyond, and as varied as the mental and psychic spaces we occupy while we write. Second year MFA in fiction Michell Kim shares her strategies for flow.

Where do you write?

I can and do write anywhere – the desk/bed/couch in my apartment, in my cubicle at work, in parks if it’s warm enough – but my favorite place to write is in cafés, where I can feed off the presence and energy of other people. Regardless of the place, the most important part of my writing space is my drink: either a chai latte, jasmine tea, or a beer. I like to think the flow of liquid slicks the brain gears.

Stand, sit or other?

Always sitting. If I’m at home, cross-legged in my desk chair. When my neck and/or back hurts, I move to the bed or couch.

What is your writing practice?

I thrive off external structure. When I have a looming deadline and the threat of other people reading my drafts, I write every day. Otherwise, I go months without writing, then most feel the urge to write when I’m supposed to be doing something else.

What are your favorite procrastinations?

I watch a lot of television and I justify it by calling it research for storytelling techniques. I’m particularly drawn to quippy comedies starring their creators, character-driven dramas with ensemble casts, and anything weird or experimental, like Undone – a rotoscoped Amazon Prime show that bends reality and time.

We live in interesting times, which book/author keeps you sane/grounded?

When I’m feeling low on creativity or morale, I listen to the Hamilton musical soundtrack. On a craft level, the word play, rhythms, and motifs inspire me to write as well as the constant references to Hamilton’s hyper productivity and insatiable ambition. For keeping me sane and/or grounded – the musical’s themes of legacy and our responsibility to build the world we want comfort and fortify me.

What is your new skill learned during the shutdowns of the Pandemic

I acquired no new skills during the pandemic, but I did paint peacocks and added recipes to my weekly rotation. My favorite new recipe I learned is a Korean dish called gungjung tteokbokki – if you’ve ever had regular tteokbokki, it’s like that but instead of being spicy, the rice cakes are coated in a savory sauce!

What is your dream writing space?

I recently visited the Center for Fiction in Brooklyn and was so enchanted with the space: the towering floor-to-ceiling bookshelves across from massive floor-to-ceiling windows. My dream writing space would be a library in my house modeled off this space: open, lined with books, drenched in sunlight, with a personal built-in café and bar.

Short Bio: Michell Kim is a second-year MFA in fiction student pursuing a graduate minor in Language Studies (Hispanic Studies). She works in clinical research and at the New School’s Creative Writing Program as a Student Assistant. Born and raised in the Midwest, she currently lives in Brooklyn.

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