Creative writing trumps medical research for English student

May 28th, 2014

Janet Harron

Creative writing trumps medical research for English student

Mona’a Malik was in grade five when she realized she wanted to be a writer but it was only after attending graduate school in immunology that she realized her future happiness depended on focusing on her creative side.

“Reading was what I spent a lot of time doing growing up, but I usually wrote when I was feeling especially happy or upset about something.  I feel like studying English and creative writing has given me more discipline and taught me to set reasonable deadlines for my fiction,” said Ms. Malik who is currently a co-editor of Paragon, a literary magazine produced by Memorial’s undergraduates. She is has also been an active volunteer with the Refugee and Immigrant Advisory Council as an ESL teacher for writing and conversation classes.

Ms. Malik cites several professors who were instrumental in her success, including bestselling author Jessica Grant (“she was very big on becoming an advocate for your stories no matter how many rejections you receive”) and Danine Farquarson who assisted with her applications for grad school. Professor Larry Matthews was Ms. Malik's honours supervisor and has continued to help her work on her stories, even after graduation.

In the fall of 2014 Ms. Malik will begin an MA in English at Concordia University in Montreal.

“I thought the program would be a good way for me to set writing deadlines for myself while also being able to intensively workshop writing projects.”

Ms. Malik recently received a professional project grant from the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council to complete a collection of short stories and is receiving SSHRC funding for her master’s program.

Good thing she has gotten over her initial reluctance in reading her fiction out loud.

“Having never read my fiction to many people, it was extremely scary. The poetry workshops were the most anxiety inducing because I hadn’t had that much exposure to poetry reading or writing growing up.  The workshops were rewarding however, and I learned more from a few writing classes than I had over many years of writing on my own.”

After completing her MA, Ms. Malik plans to work “where I can support myself while I write.”