CWL Senior Kelsey Moghadaspour

Kelsey Moghadaspour graduates in December. Photo by Chris Dorantes

Senior Creative Writing and Literature students at Santa Fe University of Art and Design are currently going through a second round of manuscript workshops, formatting their senior books in InDesign and anxiously waiting to see cover designs from collaborating graphic design students. Jackalope Magazine talks to CWL senior Kelsey Moghadaspour about her senior book and plans beyond graduation.


What is your senior book about? What has the process been like?

My senior book is mostly self-exploration, like a lot of growth and growing out of other people—just stuff I’ve been working on the two years I’ve been here. There’s a lot of realization about relationships, love and un-love, nature, progression and growth. It’s been stressful, very stressful. It was very last minute for me, for some reason. I was like, ‘I know I have to get this ready’ but nothing could bring me to do it until a week before the rough draft was due…But it’s also been super exciting.

How did you end up at SFUAD?

It was before I even started googling schools for creative writing, because I finally decided that’s what I wanted to do. I hadn’t even gone online or googled anything and I got an email from SFUAD saying, ‘Into creative writing? Apply here!’ and I was really creeped out, not even gonna lie, because I had no idea how they found my email and knew that’s what I was into. I was super creeped out; I still am a little bit. And then I applied here and I got accepted, so I was totally set on going here. I had to defer my acceptance, because of a bunch of things, to spring instead of fall. And my mom was like, ‘I want you to apply to a school that’s up here [Washington] just in case, as a backup.’ So I did, just to make her happy, and I got rejected. So I was like, ‘Mom, I think I’m supposed to go down there.’

How are you getting everything done in two years?

I graduated high school with 87 college credits, which is why I’m now finishing my BA before I’m 21—I turn 21 in January. I came here as a second semester sophomore, and then I also did both summer sessions this past summer. I ended up giving a speech at my [high school] graduation; I was one of five people and it was terrifying. I thought I was going to die on stage. My mother filmed it and posted it on Facebook. It’s still there, please don’t go looking for it.

Have you always been a writer?

I’ve been a writer since between the ages of 10 and 12, I can’t remember exactly when it started. I’ve always been into art in general because I come from a very artistic family, which is nice because when I said I wanted to go to art school they were like, ‘Yes, do it’ and I was like, ‘Oh, thank God.’ My grandma knits and paints and crochets, and my mom does a lot of jewelry making and painting and just everything you can think of. She’s really into bullet journaling right now; she got me into it, too…My mom’s also a writer, not as into it as I am, but I would always take my papers to her and have her look over them to make sure it was written well.

How has being surrounded by visual art influenced you?

I think my family loving art has given me the courage and acceptance I need to be able to go for a career in creative writing. I’ve had so many people say to me that it’s not a real job and that I’ll end up a starving artist on my parents’ couch, so it’s really nice that my family has faith that I’ll be able to make something out of it. I started out as a visual artist before I ever started writing. My parents spilt when I was two, so my mom and I moved into my grandparents’ house. When she would go to work, my grandma would watch me. She had all kinds of things for me to do: drawing, watercolors, a chalkboard easel. She would always surprise me with new coloring books and trips to Benjamin Franklin (an art supply store in Redmond, Washington).

What inspires your writing?

Just about everything, especially real life because a lot of my stuff is just written about people who have been in my life, whether they still are or not. I write a lot about them, but I also get inspiration from books. I try not to take it from books as much, because I don’t want to sound like a copy cat. But sometimes, you know… I get a lot of ideas for certain lines from songs. So if anyone listened to a song too closely and then read something of mine, they’d be like, ‘Hey…’

Do you have a specific writing process?

I like to write by hand, at least first draft. Almost always, but not always just because carpal tunnel is a thing. So after about five to 10 minutes my hand just fully cramps up and I’m like, ‘OK, I have to stop.” But I prefer to write by hand. I don’t know if I have specific things I do…I like to drink tea when I write. I have a few favorite pens. That’s about it, though…I’m pretty versatile when it comes to writing environments. Probably couldn’t write at a concert, though. That would probably be a little too difficult for me.

Is there a specific genre you prefer?

When I first got into writing I was solely fiction, like YA, romance. I don’t write it nearly as much [now], or really at all, because I’ve been more focused on poetry since I got here. Poetry and like creative nonfiction that’s more lyrical than anything. But I still do write fiction. And I miss writing fiction, I just can’t come up with anything anymore.

Kelsey Moghadaspour writes poetry and fiction. Photo by Chris Dorantes

Do you have a favorite book?

My favorite book is Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler. It’s wonderful because it’s just like this really long letter that this character writes to her ex. And it’s gorgeous because he has Maira Kalman illustrate it. So it’s a novel with illustrations, and it’s gorgeous. And Daniel Handler’s great because I love that book and then I love all of his kids books, because he’s Lemony Snicket, which I never knew until after I read Why We Broke Up.

What class at SFUAD as impacted you the most?

Probably Julia Goldberg’s intro to nonfiction, or whatever it was called. Because before I got here, all I thought of nonfiction was essays this essays that, blah blah blah. And I freaking hated it, it was the worst. And that class, while it was not my favorite, definitely made me realize that nonfiction wasn’t just essays and gross boring academic papers. It actually could be a lot of fun.

What do you want to do after you graduate?

I’m definitely going to be in town probably until May or so, just because of the lease and graduation and stuff. And I’m looking at MFA programs, probably for poetry. If they have a dual program, like what we can do here, I’ll probably do poetry and fiction again.

Do you want to travel?

Yes, I love traveling. I miss being overseas because I studied abroad my senior year of high school. I studied in London for three months. It was a program through the college I went to, so it was my sophomore year of college and my senior year of high school.

What do you ultimately want to do with your writing?

My ultimate end dream job would be to be an accomplished author who published both fiction and poetry books and could sustain herself on that alone. I’d love to be able to write and make enough money that I would need to live without having to do some other side job, unless it was photography, because I would love to be able to just write and take pictures – of people, of places, just about anything. Either that or become a travel writer and photographer. I love to travel and miss it a lot, so if I could get paid to travel places and write about the places I traveled to and the people I met, that would be absolutely amazing.

This interview has been edited for style and clarity.