Promising novelist hones his craft at UA


At some point in the not-too-distant future, Christopher Drabick hopes to walk into a bookstore and see, prominently displayed in the New Fiction section, a book with his name on the cover.

Christopher Drabick

The dream of being a published novelist is one this nontraditional student has been working to make a reality since joining the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program (NEOMFA) at UA in summer 2010. Drabick told UA's Board of Trustees, along with others in attendance at the Oct. 31 Board meeting, how his Akron Experience has helped him hone his skills to pursue a career as a novelist.

Best of the best

NEOMFA is a consortium of four universities — in addition to UA there is Cleveland State, Kent State and Youngstown State. Students accepted into the highly competitive program can do coursework at any of the four campuses, giving them access to more resources and the perspectives of a greater number of faculty and students.

Before enrolling at UA, the Canton native juggled a career in retail with work as a freelance music journalist. He had earned a B.A. in Film Studies in 1995 at Bowling Green State University, where he also did graduate work in the Department of Popular Culture, focusing on baseball and popular music. Along the way, Drabick has published works in such publications as Cleveland Scene and Pitchfork.

Still, the tug to be a full-time writer could not be ignored.

Nor was it deterred, even when Professor Eric Wasserman "eviscerated" the first story Drabick submitted, as he ruefully told his audience. He now counts Wasserman, along with other Department of English faculty members David Giffels and Bob Pope as "valued mentors."

A very full year

He also credits his wife Alison for her belief in his talents as a fiction writer. They are the parents of Augie, who arrived a little early this past summer, just as his father was about to travel to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to attend the Juniper Writing Institute on a full scholarship.

"I traded one happy experience for the happiest," Drabick told his audience. "But the very possibility of being able to participate in a respected and venerable summer program such as Juniper was important, and was something I never expected."

When Drabick graduates in May, he will have a polished novel ready to make the rounds in the publishing world.

"Three years ago I wasn’t sure I could write an entire short story," notes Drabick. …"That I might wince a bit upon reading that first story that Professor Wasserman reacted to so strongly is proof that The University of Akron and the NEOMFA are building better writers."