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Zuleika Dobson

Dec 17, 2009, 10:37 PM

Post #1076 of 1175 (28990 views)
Re: [Zuleika Dobson] High Anxiety Can't Post

Oh, and I also want to say in response to the remark about NYU/Columbia (though it seems like NYU is pretty decent with funding)... if I am lucky enough to get into an excellent program and not receive adequate financial aid, I will find a way to attend whether I have to take out a loan or sell a kidney on the black market.

"Every spectator is a coward or a traitor."


Dec 17, 2009, 10:50 PM

Post #1077 of 1175 (28986 views)
Re: [Zuleika Dobson] High Anxiety Can't Post

Speaking of Columbia, I have just finished chopping a paper down to "less than 1,000 words" for Columbia's confounded critical essay requirement and I will send the application off tomorrow. This is my ninth of ten applications and I am psyched as hell to be gettin' done with this madness!

Zuleika Dobson

Dec 17, 2009, 11:19 PM

Post #1078 of 1175 (28980 views)
Re: [Trilbe] High Anxiety Can't Post

Argh, lucky you found something 'workable'! If only they had set it to "less than 10,000 words" and "within the past 100 years." I have some good stuff on Eliot from college, but alas... will probably be churning something out after Xmas so I can submit it at 11:50 pm on New Year's.

"Every spectator is a coward or a traitor."

Wendy Babiak

Dec 17, 2009, 11:25 PM

Post #1079 of 1175 (28974 views)
Re: [Zuleika Dobson] High Anxiety Can't Post

Travel is great for writing...when I was younger (high school), I spent a year in Spain as a foreign exchange student (relatively cheaply, with was merit based), and then, taking a break between my junior and senior years of college, I worked for a year on Andros Island, Bahamas. Not only does one get to experience another culture, but one also has the opportunity to experience one's own culture from the outside, which is invaluable. I ended up using experiences from both in my thesis.

Of course, if one opens oneself, one can experience plenty where ever one is...

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”
-- Rachel Carson

Conspiracy of Leaves (Plain View Press)
What I Meant to Say

Zuleika Dobson

Dec 18, 2009, 12:04 AM

Post #1080 of 1175 (28953 views)
Re: [babiak] High Anxiety Can't Post

Ahh. Have you ever read Baudelaire's "Anywhere in the World"? It is one of my favorites. So desolate and morose... but escape is another excellent reason for traveling.

On a slightly related note:

I'm wondering what people think about having bits of foreign language in the writing sample. I've asked my workshop classmates, who are divided half and half (those that understand it like it; those that don't understand are annoyed). I've tried to do a bit of automatic translation in the manner of Bowles's The Sheltering Sky, but is it always necessary to assume the reader doesn't understand? Removing it completely isn't possible, and it feels so inauthentic to have people constantly explaining.

I remember reading Tender is the Night ten years ago and becoming very frustrated with Mr. Fitzgerald. I don't want MFA professors doing the same with a submission.

"Every spectator is a coward or a traitor."


Dec 18, 2009, 1:11 AM

Post #1081 of 1175 (28936 views)
Re: [Zuleika Dobson] High Anxiety Can't Post

I think foreign words and phrases are often useful in terms of adding authenticity, engaging with the reader on another level and addressing linguistic and cultural similarities/differences (i.e. if a certain language has a word or phrase that cannot be translated well into English).

For the most part, I don't have a problem with foreign words/phrases in a story, but I think moderation and context are the key words here (i.e NOT T.S. Eliot). Can the foreign language be deciphered through context? If not, how does the foreign word/phrase function in the passage? I think the latter is more of an issue for short stories where the micro counts. I can forgive obscurity and having to hit a translator for novels.

Last year I had snippets of three different languages in my portfolio. This year I have no foreign languages in my portfolio despite my stories being set in foreign locales.

(This post was edited by WanderingTree on Dec 18, 2009, 1:14 AM)


Dec 18, 2009, 2:16 AM

Post #1082 of 1175 (28922 views)
Re: [WanderingTree] High Anxiety Can't Post

Uh-oh, Wandering Tree--how come you dropped all the snippets this year?

Luke Johnson

Dec 18, 2009, 6:31 AM

Post #1083 of 1175 (28901 views)
Re: [Zuleika Dobson] High Anxiety Can't Post

And I actually think many people that travel more might write better. They have a broader array of ideas and personal experiences to draw from as well as a greater consciousness of the world.

Careful, you may be opening a can of worms you want to avoid here. Every year around this time a debate arises about the "life experience" issue. As someone who loves to travel, but has never had the means to extend this travel beyond road trips (albiet ones to places like Alaska and Oklahoma), I bristle a bit at the notion that Americans who don't do tours of Europe are simply victims of poor prioritization. I understand I'm taking some liberties with what you've said, only to say that I can see how some might see your statements as a bit entitled. Having said that (anyone see that Curb Your Enthusiasm?), I agree that travel makes better human beings, though I'm not so sure about better writers.


Dec 18, 2009, 7:45 AM

Post #1084 of 1175 (28893 views)
Re: [HollinsMFAer] High Anxiety Can't Post

Pretty good, Luke.

Pretty, pretty, pretty good...

six five four three two one 0 ->

Zuleika Dobson

Dec 18, 2009, 9:57 AM

Post #1085 of 1175 (28867 views)
Re: [HollinsMFAer] High Anxiety Can't Post

Bah. I understand, and I feel like the subject of travel only becomes a contentious issue in a few grad school "spheres," of which MFA programs is one of them.

I mentioned almost none of my "life experiences" in the 3 SOPs I've sent out for fear of reverse ostracization, whereas if I were applying to "professional" instead of creative degrees, it would all be fair game.

But we are all worried about funding, etc, and "excessive" traveling, being born/ having grown up in separate countries, or, on a different note, successes in non-writerly pursuits, I fear, would all be detrimental.

Better safe than sorry? Or should one throw caution to the wind and gleefully follow Aha's advice in "Take On Me"*--a song that is sounding more and more like a tribute to the MFA app process everyday?

*"It's no better to be safe than sorry..."

"Every spectator is a coward or a traitor."

(This post was edited by Zuleika Dobson on Dec 18, 2009, 10:02 AM)

Forum Apps

Dec 18, 2009, 10:29 AM

Post #1086 of 1175 (28858 views)
Re: [Junior Maas] High Anxiety Can't Post

Travel or no travel, I rarely meet anyone who is “a better human being” than Larry David. Which isn’t to say that Larry David (in the show, mind you) is a good human being. I am simply saying that most people (myself included) simply feign at being better while still driving the same cars and going about the same sort of days as everyone else. The show simply breaks apart social conventions (as if those were necessarily implicit in the "brotherhood of mankind").

I do have a problem with the expatriate mentality. I don’t know. Something just rubs me the wrong way about people who uphold rich white "high culture" societies like they were the best thing since the invention of bacon flavored dental floss.


Dec 18, 2009, 10:59 AM

Post #1087 of 1175 (28848 views)
Re: [Forum Apps] High Anxiety Can't Post

If you've read a George Saunders interview, you know he's got a pretty funny take on travel, and what it means (and does not mean) for writing. Or his writing, anyway. He did the whole I'm on an oil SUMATRA! thing, and consequently, wrote some very bad fiction. Then set up shop in a cubicle and wrote some truly stunning fiction.

I'd like to think the best writerly travel might get done simply by blowing the dust off an old book and letting some gent like Rilke fuck you up with some knowledge.

Not that I didn't enjoy the pannekoeken in Amsterdam. That shit was tasty.

six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Dec 18, 2009, 11:02 AM)


Dec 18, 2009, 12:09 PM

Post #1088 of 1175 (28819 views)
Re: [rue721] High Anxiety Can't Post

Rue, no reason for an "uh-oh" : - 9

My portfolio stories this year didn't have enough reason to use a foreign language (apart from place names etc.). I think part of this is because setting was much more prominent in my stories last year (almost becoming a character) whereas this year, my stories are much more character/situation oriented.


Dec 18, 2009, 5:32 PM

Post #1089 of 1175 (28762 views)
Selectivity Can't Post

Does anyone know where I can find information on the selectivity of certain MFA programs? The selectivity rankings in the P&W article just are specific enough. I'd really like to know percentages and total apps.


Dec 18, 2009, 5:50 PM

Post #1090 of 1175 (28754 views)
Re: [edamame40] High Anxiety Can't Post

Texas and Arizona are off. Montana should be out tomorrow. Iowa is being mailed on the 23rd.

A full-time job doesn't mix well with the application process. Thank God I work for a public university that will shut down for Christmas next week.

So yeah, I was kind of hoping to hear from people applying to MFA programs, what with deadlines passing and coming up and so on...anyone have anything to say other than squabbling?

Ray O

Dec 18, 2009, 6:25 PM

Post #1091 of 1175 (28745 views)
Re: [OldScribe2000] High Anxiety Can't Post

OldScribe, I am in a similar boat re: full time job at a public university that is thankfully shutting down next week. I have four apps down, a few more steps left for remaining three (Syracuse, Iowa, and Michigan).

Good luck to you!


Dec 18, 2009, 9:12 PM

Post #1092 of 1175 (28705 views)
Re: [WanderingTree] High Anxiety Can't Post

Ah, thanks Wandering Tree!

I was worried foreign words were one of those writing no-nos, like Tom Swiftlys or something :P

As for my sample: my story takes place in a French-speaking country, so I used a few foreign but widely-known words (ie, the endearment "mon petit"). Mostly I tried to give the French-speakers' speech a "French tinge" by using French word order and cognates, etc, though the characters were actually speaking English (to an American, the narrator). Logistically, it helped that I have a fairly strong background in French--couldn't have done the same kind of foreign-embedding with any other language, I don't think.

But of course, just to show the big shots apparently don't worry much about this stuff: see the extensive Spanish in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao :P

Zuleika Dobson

Dec 18, 2009, 11:38 PM

Post #1093 of 1175 (28670 views)
Re: [Junior Maas] High Anxiety Can't Post

Ha, my Amsterdammertje friends have mentioned that pancake stuff. Sounds delicious. Saw a Rilke book today and debated buying it but felt bad doing so in a store (it's like $15 more than from Amazon, and I've just gone through Xmas shopping). Have only read some of his poetry. Lovely.

Meanwhile, I'd like to suggest for all you last-minute folks that waiting is not the way to go. I thought 12 midnight was the standard deadline time (if they say December 15th, they mean midnight/ before the official start of the next day). Unfortunately, I had discovered this is not the case for every school after I had sent in an application for one that set a deadline time during the day. I feel awful. Sent them an email, but serves me right, hoping for day-of inspiration. I'm going to send out everything else before Xmas.

"Every spectator is a coward or a traitor."


Dec 19, 2009, 2:49 PM

Post #1094 of 1175 (28592 views)
Re: [HollinsMFAer] High Anxiety Can't Post

While I don't think that travel can make a bad writer good or that a lack of travel takes anything away from a good writer... A good writer can only become better by gathering more experiences. I don't know of anyone who says that their life experiences have hurt their writing, or that they were a better writer when they were younger and less experienced. I don't agree that these categories are needed, though, because good writing happens regardless of experience. Writing samples will speak for themselves.

In unrelated news, I put Montana and Kansas in the mail today... 5 down, 8 to go! I hope to be done by the first week of January.


Jan 5, 2010, 4:35 PM

Post #1095 of 1175 (28341 views)
Florida Apps Can't Post

Whoever is interested: I contacted Florida's receptionist for confirmation of my writing sample and she told me that they just started processing them, and that they would contact me if anything is missing. I still don't know what they would do if they never receive my entire packet (writing sample, letters, transcript, etc). I'm hoping that if they have my application on file and my $30 that they'd give me a call, but you never know ;)

It feels kine of late for them to just now be processing them. Alabama and Iowa were already going through them before Christmas break. Is Florida late or normal??


Jan 5, 2010, 4:42 PM

Post #1096 of 1175 (28337 views)
Re: [kbritten] Florida Apps Can't Post

Not sure what normal would be, but I called Washington University in St. Louis to confirm receipt of my materials and they said they had just begun processing packets. Someone said that WUSTL had sent a confirmation but I didn't get one. I applied by paper though and not online, so that could be the difference. I'm not surprised Iowa has already started processing considering the number of applications they get. Iowa also gets back to applicants around mid-late Feb (according to the suburban ecstasies).

Emily Sims

Jan 7, 2010, 8:28 AM

Post #1097 of 1175 (28224 views)
Re: [kbritten] Florida Apps Can't Post

I'm sure they're normal. I got emails this week from Illinois and Purdue confirming receipt of my materials... looks like they've just started processing.


Our Daily Tales / Travel Tales


Oct 18, 2010, 7:41 PM

Post #1098 of 1175 (25955 views)
Re: [emcsims] Florida Apps Can't Post

Anyone applying this year? After lurking through many years of old threads, I want some fresh people to commiserate and bemoan our states of existence with.


Oct 18, 2010, 8:40 PM

Post #1099 of 1175 (25946 views)
Re: [jamilinzi] Florida Apps Can't Post

I am! Well, I'm re-applying to the following places:

Ohio State
Notre Dame
NC State
VA Commonwealth
VA Tech
Bowling Green
South Carolina
Penn State

What about anyone else?


Oct 18, 2010, 8:49 PM

Post #1100 of 1175 (25944 views)
Re: [kbritten] Florida Apps Can't Post

So far, I have my list "narrowed down" to:

Portland State
California College of the Arts
Iowa State
New School
Penn State
Louisiana State

and I'm currently in the process of researching:
UC Boulder
University of Wyoming
UNC Wilmington
Florida State

bahhhhh. I will never get this down to what is a semi-acceptable amount. I've heard of people applying to 17+, but I'm not going to apply to more than 12. Or 14.

kbritten, if you don't mind me asking, since this is your second go-round, are there any tips you'd pass along to a newbie on how to not pull all your hair out in this process?

(This post was edited by jamilinzi on Oct 18, 2010, 8:52 PM)

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