Author Kate Gale.

Marrissa Childs
MFA Graduate Student

It’s hard to say now, but as I reflect on the past six months of my life, since beginning the MFA in Creative Writing program at Chapman University, I find that I have had so many privileges, of which I have yet to know the real impact on my world of writing. I have moved to a new state that seems the complete opposite of Arkansas. I have met people from Shanghai, Ghana, and New York. I have finally figured out what my real role is in the field of writing. And Chapman has been a large part of that: from meeting my peers to meeting writing game-changers, I have had the chance to be surrounded by many new influences. And while I have many persons that I am proud to have engaged with, I have to say that the most exciting has been writer, publisher, and professor Kate Gale.

Last fall, Dr. Gale was a guest speaker for our Aspects of Writer course. Of course, her vibe was what you expect any multi-talented writer-genius to be: woke—in her own right. Her attitude about the visit was that of a person that can do nothing but also tells it like it is. She started by telling us her life story, from the small secluded “cult” High View, to the college classroom, to becoming the present Managing Editor of Red Hen Press, one of the top eight independent book publishers in America.

Inspirational isn’t the word I would use to describe the visit. As I listened to her speak, I often found myself smiling in agreement or even in disagreement with her. I felt at ease, and even ‘in kindred spirit’ with her. (That honestly makes me nervous but, alas, that’s how I responded.) As I listened to her speak, I sat empty-headed, taking in her advice and words of encouragement. It wasn’t until well into the weeks after that I could really hear what she was saying during that visit.

In reflection of her lessons and responses to the questions that MFA students asked, here is the wisdom that was imparted to me from Dr. Kate Gale:

  1. Love what you do enough to overlook the hardships that come with it! That seems obvious, but we have to be reminded sometimes.
  2. Mentorship is a significant key to success! (That’s one of the sexiest ideas for success I have ever received from a writing professor.) Do not think that you can do it all on your own just because you know how to read, write, and have big ideas. Even those who know a lot about their field need help, and the way to grow is to communicate with others with the same drive to accomplish as you have.
  3. Whatever you choose to do in the writing field (writing, editing, publishing, etc.), be ready to do it with thoughts of citizenship and work. Nothing is free, even the world shaped by freedom of speech and naturally matured acceptance. Work is the key to any of our successes, especially in writing.

As a press, you need to have a mentor, when you get going, but it helps to have a mentor as a writer also.  Mentors guide you and can give you tips on how to navigate this industry effectively. — Kate Gale

After Dr. Gale’s visit, I am excited to see what her plans are for Red Hen Press in 2020 and how she grows as a writer too.

To keep up with Dr. Gale, don’t hesitate to follow her blog: Kate Gale: A Mind Never Dormant.

Please look forward to more on Kate Gale and on others that I have had the privilege of encountering while earning my MFA at Chapman!