May 30, 2012, 9:06 PM
Post #2467 of 2685
I'm at a low residency (Rainier Writers Workshop) and have done a couple online workshops. The low residency I'm in is quite a bit more intense than the online workshops, both in quality of criticism and expectation from the writer. I work one on one with a mentor (which is common with low residency programs) and have material that's due every 4-6 weeks (I forget what the exact numbers were, but the schedule was worked out between myself and my mentor). Material included critical work on three books (more analytical than critical) and my creative work, totaling about 39-42 pages per packet. I'm *not* fond of analytical writing, but it has tweaked my brain in a way that what I'm learning now will stay with me. Definitely worth the effort.
Re: [writergal] Low-Residency MFAs
I have four residencies over three years, meeting only in the summer and not in the winter. Also included is an "outside experience" that I will need to fulfill this coming school year. For mine, I'm considering spending a week in a cabin with my manuscript, but I'm also tempted to go to Key West with a side trip back to the Everglades to research Matthiessen's "Shadow Country." In addition, I'm learning to play the electric guitar and am calling it research along the lines of DFW taking accounting classes for "Pale King," which I might try to apply to my outside experience. I definitely feel immersed in my writing.
I hope that's helpful. I've not been an advocate of MFAs in the past, and I still think you should question why, the timing, and what you will gain from the program. I spend 20-30 hours a weeks writing, that doesn't include reading, and I read at least four books for every packet so that I can choose not to write about one (my personal choice, three is all that is expected). I am very pleased that I decided to further my study with an MFA rather than continuing to cobble online workshops and summer workshops. Good luck with your decision!