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kcole7
Kristin

May 29, 2006, 11:14 PM

Post #1 of 40 (3830 views)
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Balancing Work and School Can't Post

I was wondering if anyone here worked full-time while doing a residency MFA (also full-time.) With the right job, I think it might be possible, but I wanted some other opinions before I seriously considered it. I have a family, also, so that's a huge concern.


pongo
Buy this book!


May 30, 2006, 5:25 PM

Post #2 of 40 (3780 views)
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Re: [kcole7] Balancing Work and School Can't Post

I only worked part-time, but I knew -- and still know -- plenty of people who worked full-time while doing a low-res MFA. None of them were, say, emergency room physicians, but many of them had jobs that took at least 40 hours a week.

They were very, very busy for two years, though.

dmh


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


Tweedy


May 30, 2006, 7:09 PM

Post #3 of 40 (3758 views)
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Re: [pongo] Balancing Work and School Can't Post

Very busy two years indeed! I'm starting a low rez this summer and trying to squeeze in a wedding by next spring. Oh yeah, and work 50+ hours a week. Good times! But I realized I'm most effecient when my schedule is crazy. If I have too much time, the stanley cup playoffs become too tempting. But that's just me. I think i heard Harry Crews say this in an interview, something like, "Do what you can with what you have". Brutal paraphrasing job, but we all wish we could have the ideal situation, but that might never happen. I'm realizing that as i get older, duties keep piling up, and they become more and more of a time suck. So gotta do it now! (Unless you are retiring and your kids are out of school. that would be sweet). Anyways, good luck on your writing, and hopefully you find a program that fits with your life. Not sure how much overlap my rambling has with the topic, but i just wanted to say hi.


kcole7
Kristin

May 30, 2006, 8:43 PM

Post #4 of 40 (3742 views)
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Re: [Tweedy] Balancing Work and School Can't Post

Thanks for the replies, and good luck planning your wedding. That was one of the most stressful times of my life. I can't imagine juggling work, school, and wedding plans. My husband and I spent a week arguing about the cost of flowers.

Topic? I'm looking into a full-time job in the local school district and then taking night classes two nights a week. It seems doable. I might not get much sleep, though. :)


zyzzyvas1


May 30, 2006, 9:09 PM

Post #5 of 40 (3739 views)
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Re: [Tweedy] Balancing Work and School Can't Post

Maybe this is the Crews' quote you're thinking of. It's one of my faves:

"If you wait till you got time to write a novel or time to write a story or time to read the hundred thousands of books you should have already read--if you wait for the time, you'll never do it. Cause there ain't no time; world don't want you to do that. World wants you to go to the zoo and eat cotton candy, preferably seven days a week."


jenya


Jun 15, 2006, 11:22 AM

Post #6 of 40 (3631 views)
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Re: [kcole7] Balancing Work and School Can't Post

Hi!
I have the same question. After years of searching and doubting, I finally decided that I should do it. I also have a family and a teenager who is turning 17. It means, I will have to pay for her college at the same time. I also know that I need to do it. Good luck to you!


jenya


Jun 15, 2006, 11:24 AM

Post #7 of 40 (3631 views)
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Re: [pongo] Balancing Work and School Can't Post

Hi!
What about full time family/work and part time MFA?


Mpehn


Sep 5, 2007, 1:01 AM

Post #8 of 40 (3483 views)
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Re: [jenya] Balancing Work and School Can't Post

Hey there,

I've been skulking around the forums for a month or so while I put together some ideas about joining an MFA program. I've found answers to most of the questions I'd like to ask, but I have one question that I can't seem to find anywhere within the forums. Searching it up doesn't seem to help, either.

I'm basically wondering what the normal age of someone who is working for an MFA is. I'm 25, and I'm not sure I can make the deadlines for spring in order to get into a program next fall. That means, I will be, likely, 27 (26, if I hurry) by the time I get into a program. It just feels like I've waited too long. Work has been making everything move at a snail's pace.

If you could help me find out this information, I'd be super grateful. Thanks for your time!


hamlet3145


Sep 5, 2007, 1:25 AM

Post #9 of 40 (3479 views)
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Re: [Mpehn] Balancing Work and School Can't Post

I'm 33. Don't sweat it. Seriously.

I'm pretty sure I read at one point that the average MFA age is about 28. So you are ahead of schedule! =)


papichulo


Sep 5, 2007, 1:41 AM

Post #10 of 40 (3476 views)
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Re: [Mpehn] Balancing Work and School Can't Post

Just started my first year in a program and I'm 32. In my program, the average for MFA seems to be about 24-27 range, although the age range goes from as young as 21, and as "old" as mid-40s. Many of my classmates have had interesting, non-writing careers and experiences prior to starting the MFA program. Don't stress--you'll benefit in the long run by taking the time to put together a stronger application and writing sample.


aiyamei


Sep 5, 2007, 5:51 AM

Post #11 of 40 (3468 views)
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Re: [Mpehn] Balancing Work and School Can't Post

Hi Mpehn,

There's a thread here that addresses precisely your question:

http://www.pw.org/speakeasy/gforum.cgi?post=236289;sb=post_latest_reply;so=ASC;forum_view=forum_view_collapsed;;page=unread#unread


It's called "Age of MFA students?"

And yeah, as others have said, you are DEFINITELY NOT too old. Wipe that thought right out of your mind. You'll be considered one of the young-uns, at most programs.


(This post was edited by aiyamei on Sep 5, 2007, 5:53 AM)


HopperFu


Sep 5, 2007, 10:09 AM

Post #12 of 40 (3451 views)
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Re: [Mpehn] Balancing Work and School Can't Post


In Reply To
...what the normal age of someone who is working for an MFA is....


Of the eight fiction students currently at my school, the ages are: 40, 35, 33, 31, 26, 25, 22, 21, give or take a year on some of those ages.
The only things that matter are your writing and your desire.


pongo
Buy this book!


Sep 5, 2007, 10:22 AM

Post #13 of 40 (3448 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Balancing Work and School Can't Post

You're right to worry about this. 25 or 26 may well be too young to go for an MFA. I'd suggest doing what I did, and put it off for a couple more decades.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


Mpehn


Sep 5, 2007, 12:58 PM

Post #14 of 40 (3428 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Balancing Work and School Can't Post

Well, I guess the biggest problem for me comes because - right now, I'm working as a designer at a company, making a decent amount of money. My friends however, in the same field, are a little higher-up career-wise because they've been at it awhile. They're making a ton more. If I go to school for two years, I feel like while it's something I really want to do, maybe I should have done it first, isntead of having waited until now, when I should work on my career. However, I need to write, and I really want to go to school. I'm afraid I might not even be able to make it for these deadlines (portfolio and all, references - I don't really have any references. Maybe one fairly reliable, older graduate student philosophy instructor from college.) I would ideally like to be going YESTERDAY. I'm just very concerned.


jenya


Sep 5, 2007, 3:57 PM

Post #15 of 40 (3407 views)
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Re: [Mpehn] Balancing Work and School Can't Post

Well, I am actually 48, and I am scared. I just sent my daughter to college. Maybe, it is too late. All my friends were pushing me to go to school, since I do really want to. First, I was scared because English is not my first language. And I do write in Russian. At the same time, I have a body of work, and my novel was short-listed in a contest for Russian immigrant writers. Then I knew that I have to contribute more to my family. So, I have this conflict between my career-money-writing priorities. Meanwhile, I am stuck, and I don't take action...


rjkostuck
Robert Kostuck


Sep 5, 2007, 6:16 PM

Post #16 of 40 (3392 views)
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Re: [jenya] Balancing Work and School Can't Post

I did 80 hours of non-degree undergraduate work in my mid- to late-20s. At age 41 I returned to university, (as a single parent of a seven year-old child) and left five and a half years later with my undegrad and graduate degrees. One of my few wise decisions in this life. Those were good years.

It can be done.

-R


Om Shanti


rpc
ryan call

Sep 5, 2007, 8:07 PM

Post #17 of 40 (3384 views)
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Re: [Mpehn] Balancing Work and School Can't Post

i know this is an interesting question to try to answer, but i think it's one that too easily obscures the real issue, which is not a matter of age but of experience and goals: what a writer needs for his or her work, and what a person needs for his or her life.

so im always pretty skeptical when i hear someone say you're too young or you're too old.

that's just me though


<HTMLGIANT>


aiyamei


Sep 5, 2007, 8:12 PM

Post #18 of 40 (3384 views)
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Re: [Mpehn] Balancing Work and School Can't Post

Mpehn, what are your reasons for wanting an MFA? You say you "should" work on your career, but you "want" to go to school. But why _should_ you work on your career? To keep up with your friends financially? Unfortunately, that's precisely the kind of concern that doesn't fit well with the writing life -- writers are always behind! Or did I misread you?


__________



Sep 5, 2007, 8:40 PM

Post #19 of 40 (3378 views)
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Re: [aiyamei] Balancing Work and School Can't Post

I'm with you here, but nothing can stop the suck.

The crew from high school are all lawyers. Even the artsy ones! Now I get calls from my parents: "I ran into Jimmy's mom at Starbucks! He's making two hundred grand a year! You could still do that! Why don't you do that?"

People just don't get it when you're like, "I want to go to beautiful Alabama! To write short stories!"


six five four three two one 0 ->


Mpehn


Sep 5, 2007, 10:55 PM

Post #20 of 40 (3363 views)
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Re: [aiyamei] Balancing Work and School Can't Post

Well, honestly. I'm a very indecisive and confused person. But here are the reasons why I need / want an MFA. At least what I can think of right now, but let me know how you feel about them.

1) Honestly, I love an academic environment. I love being in school, getting a BA in philosophy, talking about "nerdy" academic things, I loved being around and talking with professors, and what it is to actually be -learning-. It's just a lot of fun for me. So, being engrossed with it again, and having time to just write and be around writers? And honestly get out of the "Real world" for a little bit more? It sounds like a fabulous opportunity.

2) I'm a decent designer. Maybe even fairly good. I have an eye. But I didn't go to school for it. (I don't want to - well, maybe one day.) My current job is just comfortable. I make t-shirts for a lot of great bands, have a great working environment, and have a decent amount of freedom - BUT.

When I sit, and I really think about it? If at the end of my life, all I can REALLY say is that I was a "Graphic designer at company X" ? I will be so god-damned unhappy with that.

3) Even if I stop for awhile, even if I become engrossed in something else totally, it always comes back to writing. Whether it's poetry (it's been mostly that) or stories. It just always comes back to that. To reading and writing. Even when I was younger, I loved to write. It sounds very cliche. But seriously, at the end of the day, the only way I can get out the love I feel for living, or the ungodly terrors of whatever-it-is, I need to put it into words. At one point, or another. It's just a part of me. I feel like maybe I should try to make it a bigger part of my life, somehow.


rpc
ryan call

Sep 5, 2007, 11:03 PM

Post #21 of 40 (3361 views)
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Re: [Mpehn] Balancing Work and School Can't Post

all good reasons, mphen, and age doesnt have anything to do with them

age figures into that "normal" idea of life: go to college, get a job, make big money...age in that case is an indicator of where you are on that path (or where you should be...)

i think its different for writers

so the questions you need to be asking are will an mfa program give you what you want/expect? if so, why? what programs in particular will do this?
etc

once you get a good list in your head, talk to students in those programs


<HTMLGIANT>


texasgurl
Stacy Patton Anderson


Sep 6, 2007, 4:59 AM

Post #22 of 40 (3346 views)
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Re: [Mpehn] Balancing Work and School Can't Post

Right. Amen. You should go to school. I can tell you that I could've written that myself when I started practicing law 10 years ago. Those feelings--that itch to write that nothing but writing can scratch? It never goes away.


Stacy Patton Anderson
http://family-of-five.com


aiyamei


Sep 6, 2007, 5:38 AM

Post #23 of 40 (3345 views)
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Re: [texasgurl] Balancing Work and School Can't Post

Those are all great reasons for wanting to pursue writing! Now on to practicing the zen of detachment from material things...;)

Parents, of course, are a whole 'nother can of worms. It's easy for me to live my simple, literary life in my garret here in Berlin and not covet any of my friends (how much cooler is having written the novel of my dreams in comparison with almost all the things money can buy?), but the worry I cause my mother is hell.

One last thing, Mpehn: isn't there also the possibility that you could write a collection of short stories or a novel on your own time -- that is, without going to school? All but one of your reasons for wanting the MFA were concerned with writing, not with MFAs per se. And you could supplement your individual writing with some workshops, or what have you. I'm thinking of Akhil Sharma, author of An Obedient Father, who did not quit his job as an investment banker even after his book fetched a huge advance and won lots of awards. He said flat out that he simply loved having plenty of money.


jacarty
Jessie Carty

Sep 6, 2007, 4:25 PM

Post #24 of 40 (3301 views)
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Re: [Mpehn] Balancing Work and School Can't Post

i think you are ahead of the game in your decision making process. i knew i wanted to write and be in an academic when i was still an undergrad but i didn't want to go into debt for grad school until i had pd undergrad. i was so money conscious.

i am 32 now and started my progam one month before turning 32. i am in low-res (have you thought about that as well, sounds like a great option when you actually like your job relatively well) and we have a really wide range. the youngest person i have encountered was about 22 and had only graduated the year before. but we have people up to their 60's i think.

on average i'd say most people at queens, where i go, range from 27-37 ish. but i could be wrong and a really bad guesstimator of age.

good luck w/ your decision. you know what it will be already but can't say it out loud yet :)

---jessie


http://jessiecarty.com


grumpyoldman53


Sep 10, 2007, 4:20 PM

Post #25 of 40 (3219 views)
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Re: [jenya] Balancing Work and School Can't Post

Don't be scared. Don't let yourself be scared.

I'm 54. I'm applying to low-res programs, because I'm still working full-time, but maybe I'll quit if I get accepted. I'll almost certainly quit working if I get an agent for my novel.

Hell, I don't know what I'll do.

But I don't think we'll get anywhere if we don't take some chances.

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