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Why Hugo? — Eric McMillan

Posted Sat, 12/21/2013 - 8:40am by  |  Category:

Eric McMillanLast year, we asked those who are deeply involved here: Why Hugo? The fun continues this year with more anecdotes from instructors, students, members, and more. We hope they’ll show you why should support Hugo House this holiday season. Here’s what 2012-13 Made at Hugo House fellow Eric McMillan has to say.


There’s nothing like Hugo House out there.

Trust me, I’ve met writers living in every major city from Boston, Massachusetts, to Sydney, Australia, and all of them are envious of what we have right here in Seattle — no other place like it exists. What do you do if you’re a new and developing writer in Pittsburgh or Dallas or San Diego? I don’t know.

But here in Seattle, we’re lucky. Where else can you spend a day with the likes of Sam Lipsyte, Andre Dubus, Maria Semple, Chris Abani, Anthony Doerr, or Richard Bausch? They teach at Hugo House because they’re passionate about sharing something they’ve learned about craft with those of us still finding the courage to bring pen to paper.

You could attend a graduate program in creative writing and still not get the caliber of attention, thoughtfulness, and dedication I’ve found in the offerings at Hugo House. And talk about support, about community! Ours is a lonely profession; you need cheerleaders and critics and someone down in the muck slogging away with you. I don’t care if you show up for a one-day workshop or take a master class with one of the writers-in-residence, you will discover that you’re not isolated. I found my partners in my first writing group here. I’ve made excellent friends in my Made at Hugo House cohort. It’s been wonderfully supportive of my work and my growth as an artist.

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Eric McMillan was commissioned as an Army officer after his graduation from the University of Virginia in 1999. A veteran of the Iraq War, Eric fought with the 3rd Infantry Division during the invasion of 2003 and returned in command of a Stryker infantry company from Ft. Lewis during the Surge of 2007-2008. During his decade of service, he was also a peacekeeper in Bosnia, a protocol officer in the UN headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, and a project lead for joint exercises in Thailand. After returning to civilian life, Eric earned his MA from the University of Chicago, where he studied creative writing with Dan Raeburn and the Vare Writer-in-Residence, James Fallows. Recently, Eric’s personal essay, “This Father’s War” was featured on TheAtlantic.com. He lives in Capitol Hill with his wife, Sarah, and their son, Jack.