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wilmabluekitty
Wilma Weant Dague

Oct 14, 2006, 12:06 AM

Post #76 of 344 (10421 views)
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Re: [Miss Write] Transferring Programs Can't Post


In Reply To
Thanks for the advice, melos and Wilma.

I have borrowed the maximum for the school year already, and I don't think it is wise to go even further into debt. Eventually, the money will run out. If I leave now, almost all of my hours will transfer, so it won't be a total waste. I do love the program, but not so much so that I would send my family into poverty for it. Last week we were digging out quarters from the couch cushions.

I came here to write, but in the past two months I have done less writing than ever before. All I do is worry about money.

When I applied last year, I kept telling myself what I read here and other places: "Don't pay for an MFA. Don't pay for an MFA." That went totally out the window when I got into my first choice program. I was so excited about getting in there, and we decided that we had to try to make it work. After all, what else was I going to do? Big mistake. I should have waited a year or two and reapplyed.

I'm angry at myself for having made such a stupid decision. I want an MFA, but my family shouldn't have to suffer for it. Before I started the program, my father-in-law called me selfish for doing this. I was hurt and offended, but now I'm starting to feel that he was right. I'm not giving up on getting the degree somewhere, but right now I feel like I'm on a sinking ship.

Sorry for the depressing post. I'm really emotional right now.


So, is borrowing your only option in terms of financial aid? Have you begged argued and cajoled the financial aid people? Sometimes they can pull a rabbit out of their hats that you never knew existed.

It's not necessarily selfish to pursue your dreams/destiny. What kind of example do you want to set for your kids? That money is more important than meaning? As far as it being a mistake--I don't think so. I'm a strong believers in daemons and you were directed there for a reason. It may be that you've gotten what you needed and you can move on. Lots of people quit and continue elsewhere--no biggee. Do what feels right--it seems that when things fall into place, then the right decision has been made.

I fully understand how hard it is to write when you're worried about how to feed the kids. Hang in there. Undoubtedly things will improve and you will look back on this time with a certain nostalgia.


Clench Million
Charles

Oct 14, 2006, 3:19 AM

Post #77 of 344 (10411 views)
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Re: [darredet] Transferring Programs Can't Post


Quote

As far as "don't pay for the MFA" is concerned, I totally disagree. Almost every cent of the program I'm in is being financed by loans. I'm married, have two kids in elementary and junior high, two mortgages and a car payment. So, yes, I'll probably be paying off my MFA with my Social Security checks. But I will be happy that I followed my dream and didn't allow myself to be on my deathbed when I'm 80, lamenting a lost dream. Better to be spiritually rich and a little poor than vice versa.


I agree.
Funding should be as important as issue to you as it needs to be. If you are in a situation where you can afford to pay some money for an MFA and you get into a quality program that doens't fully fund you, then by all means take it. It is all about the situation you were in. There are a lot of great programs that have great funding, no doubt, and I'm sure we would all like to be in them, but the fact is there aren't THAT many great programs with great funding and, given the subjective nature of the field, one can easily end up not getting into one of those programs. Is it better to spend 5 years applying to programs and never getting in and then settling on a weak program taht will fund you instead of going to a great program that doesn't fully fund you?

Well, that totally depends on the situation. For some people it would be smart, for others it would be a horrible mistake.

This is really no different than undergrad. Some people can afford to go to an expensive private school, others can only afford a cheap in state school with a scholarship.

As for the thread, it sounds like Miss Write is in a situation where not being mostly funded is not an option, at least in her prsent location. That sucks. I hope things work out for you Miss Write. Best of luck with transfering or getting more money.


Weege


Oct 15, 2006, 7:04 AM

Post #78 of 344 (10368 views)
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Re: [Miss Write] Transferring Programs Can't Post

First off, I won't tell you to stay or to go -- that's a decision you've got to make with your family. I can, however, tell you that dropping out won't necessarily derail your writing career, or even your path to an MFA. I dropped out of UMass in 2001 for not so dissimilar reasons. I'm now working on my degree at Warren Wilson.

Have you thought about low-residency? Especially since you have a family, you should consider the possibility. And sure, you pay for it, but money is relative. I mean, the education was "free" at UMass, but I made $11,000 a year. At WW, I pay something like 10,000 a year -- but I have a real job. So the net amount is a lot higher. Sometimes "free" can cost more than you think.

But I didn't write this post to pitch low-residency programs. Just know that whatever program you're in right now needn't be your only chance ever to get the degree.

Best of luck --


wiswriter
Bob S.

Oct 15, 2006, 7:17 PM

Post #79 of 344 (10326 views)
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Re: [Weege] Transferring Programs Can't Post


In Reply To
Ao the net amount is a lot higher. Sometimes "free" can cost more than you think.


I'm glad to see someone other than me post this. Nowhere does "full support" mean as little as it does in a residential MFA program.

TA-ships and other forms of MFA support are a good deal if you're able to live frugally without outside responsibilities such as family, or if you have easy outside income to fill the gaps, or if your income possibilities at a day job are dismal. But if you have a decent day job, generally you will do better financially by subtracting and/or financing low-residency tuition and keeping your job than you will by quitting work for 2-3 years and going into an MFA program at "full support."

This is why the choice between low-residency and residential MFA programs should usually be about time and freedom to write and not about money.

Nothing is worse, financially, than doing a residential MFA program without support in the form of thousands of dollars of gift aid (not loans). Dream or not, you're asking for financial trouble when you get out - trouble that will wreak havoc with your attempts to take an easy or flexible job that allows you to keep writing. Those two or three years off to write may cost you the opportunity to write again for a long, long time.

I would get out of that unfunded program and go into one with better support, or get a decent day job and go low-residency. No one's going to care where you started your MFA. They only care where you finished it. The old saw is mostly true: You shouldn't pay for an MFA. If you do, it should be a low-residency MFA with good financing and a decent day job to support it.


pongo
Buy this book!


Oct 15, 2006, 8:58 PM

Post #80 of 344 (10310 views)
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Re: [wiswriter] Transferring Programs Can't Post


In Reply To
No one's going to care where you started your MFA. They only care where you finished it.


And even that, not very much.

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/


wilmabluekitty
Wilma Weant Dague

Oct 15, 2006, 10:17 PM

Post #81 of 344 (10297 views)
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Re: [pongo] Transferring Programs Can't Post

 
Without the publications to back it up, an m.f.a. won't get you very far. For a really inspirational story of hardship to success, you can't beat Carolyn Chute's bio.


mrshankly


Nov 13, 2006, 1:25 AM

Post #82 of 344 (10169 views)
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Re: admissions stats Can't Post

i know earlier on this thread people were asking about applications vs. acceptances. i go to nyu. the year i applied there were 890 applicants (poetry and fiction combined) for 37 spots.


jlr


Mar 28, 2007, 8:12 AM

Post #83 of 344 (9991 views)
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Fellowships and Teaching Can't Post

Hi all,

I'll be headed to a fiction program this fall with limited funding and teaching opportunities. It's a state school, so the financial situation doesn't look too dire, but I was still wondering: does anyone know a resource for finding independent scholarship money/grants for writers? Entering contests seems like a good way to raise one's profile, but not necessarily to fund one's MFA.

Likewise, anyone know of summer teaching opportunities (international or stateside) for MFA candidates that are not linked to a specific program? Has anyone looked into the prospect of TAing at the community college level?

I'm just starting my research and will post any information I find. In the meantime, if anyone can chime in, I'd appreciate it!

JL


piratelizzy


Mar 28, 2007, 10:11 AM

Post #84 of 344 (9958 views)
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Re: [jlr] Fellowships and Teaching Can't Post

Try FastWeb.com, jlr. You'll fill out a profile and they will show you a list of funding opportunities that match your background. I've found a couple of fellowships I've applied for that way. They have ads that you must opt out of, though, so you know.


'sup?!


hamlet3145


Mar 28, 2007, 10:35 AM

Post #85 of 344 (9937 views)
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Re: [jlr] Fellowships and Teaching Can't Post

"Has anyone looked into the prospect of TAing at the community college level?"

Technically, that would be adjuncting, but yes, it's possible. I've done it. BUT, I already had an M.A. from Iowa State. That said, a number of community colleges will let you teach without a master's degree if you have a certain number of graduate credits. I doubt you could arrange for a tuition waiver though as, I assume, where you adjunct would be a separate institution from where you take your MFA coursework. Still, it's good experience and better that working at Micky Ds. =) In case you are wondering adjuncting, say, a composition class pays about $3000. Give or take a bit depending on where you are.

As for national creative writing scholarships? I don't know of any. As usual the arts get the shaft in this area. (Now, if we were all studying cyptography, there is some pretty sweet funding available from the NSA).



Tapeworm


Mar 29, 2007, 2:38 AM

Post #86 of 344 (9817 views)
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Alabama Can't Post

This isn't very specific, but, does anyone know how many fiction students Alabama admits each year?


ajbrady


Mar 30, 2007, 1:07 AM

Post #87 of 344 (9717 views)
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Re: [Tapeworm] Alabama Can't Post

not sure where else to put this but just saw a notice about a new start up MFA at rutgers, here is the link

www.mfa.newark.rutgers.edu. apparently taking apps now for fall 2007


gcsumfa


Apr 12, 2007, 12:46 AM

Post #88 of 344 (9554 views)
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Re: [pongo] Transferring Programs Can't Post


In Reply To

In Reply To
No one's going to care where you started your MFA. They only care where you finished it.



Hate to break it to you, but no one really cares about your MFA degree period, save for the 000001% of the population who might know that Iowa has a really famous, good creative writing program called the Iowa Writers Workshop.


scheherazade


May 11, 2008, 3:30 AM

Post #89 of 344 (9286 views)
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Popular vs Literary Can't Post

I have a guilty secret to admit. I'd rather write good stories that sit on the "popular" end of the spectrum than beautiful prose that wins the hearts of literary critics. I don't want to churn out formula novels, but I think I'd be happier to write like Stephen King than like Paul Auster. Would it be a mistake to pursue an MFA?

I like the idea of having 2-3 years to devote to writing, to formally study literature and feel more legitimate in my knowledge of the subject and possibly be qualified to teach (which is particularly useful as someone who never did an English degree), to be able to live in and explore an interesting region of the U.S. (as a Canadian citizen this would be pretty difficult to do otherwise), and, yes, to have reason to delay getting a "real job" or otherwise feeling pushed to settle into life. I'd like to have a better understanding of poetry and dramatic writing, to meet other young writers, to learn from some great teachers, and to enjoy some of the adventures of being a student. I can write clever, poetic prose. But I want to write stories that people - not just writers, but also my family and coworkers and neighbors - would enjoy reading. I like plot just as much as I like a finely crafted sentence.

Should I be bothering to go the MFA route? Is marketability a dirty word in MFA circles? If I could get funding to justify the degree financially, would it be worthwhile for an aspiring popular novelist to do an MFA? Or would it be better to keep writing part-time and go it alone?


pongo
Buy this book!


May 11, 2008, 11:38 AM

Post #90 of 344 (9257 views)
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Re: [scheherazade] Popular vs Literary Can't Post

Not all MFA programs are the same. Some even have programs in popular fiction. Do your research and you might be surprised.


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/


hamlet3145


May 11, 2008, 12:59 PM

Post #91 of 344 (9246 views)
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Re: [scheherazade] Popular vs Literary Can't Post

I think an MFA can help your writing (and your prospects) regardless of what genre you wind up in.

I can't remember his name, but there is some recent award winning graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop who just got a multi-book Vampire novel deal for a non-inconsequential amount of money.


dunnkc


May 11, 2008, 2:14 PM

Post #92 of 344 (9232 views)
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Re: [Hamlet3145] Popular vs Literary Can't Post

"I can't remember his name, but there is some recent award winning graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop who just got a multi-book Vampire novel deal for a non-inconsequential amount of money."

The writer's name is Justin Cronin. He did graduate from Iowa, and he also taught at Warren Wilson -- he kindly helped me with my recommendations this year. I took a workshop from him last summer when he sold the vampire trilogy, the first book of which is called The Passage . He did make some serious money on the sale, which is great, and he brought champagne to the workshop meeting that night. I believe that Fox 2000 also bought the film rights, too.
His first two books were very literary, domestic dramas, but yes, this one is a post-apocalyptic vampire book. I heard him read from it, and it is very good. Even though it is a subject with mainstream appeal, the prose is excellent. So yes, a literary writer can write a book that appeals to a mainstream market. Obviously Cronin believes in the MFA, since he completed the degree, taught in an MFA program, and recommended several programs to me. I'm sure that it helped him to develop his writing skills, regardless of which subject matter who chose to apply them to.

I am very excited to read the book, which will come out in summer of 2009.


Moonshade


May 11, 2008, 4:47 PM

Post #93 of 344 (9205 views)
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Re: [scheherazade] Popular vs Literary Can't Post

No need to feel guilty, Scheherazade, if "popular" fiction is what you want to write then write it.
You can still pursue an MFA is that's what you choose to do.

In fact, there's a school in Philadelphia that has an Master of Arts in Writing Popular fiction. Seton Hill University.
Here's the link, http://www.setonhill.edu/o/index.cfm?PID=13

I think as writers, we can get caught up in what "type" of writer we want to be. But a good story
is a good story, whether you have an MFA after your name or not. I have read Stephen King
for years and I'll take him anyday over some of the more "literary" writers whose stories bore
me to tears.

Orson Scott Card is a science fiction writer and yet he has a Ph.D. David Morell (he wrote
the original Rambo novel that was turned into a movie franchise) has a Masters degree. And
Walter Mosely writes the Easy Rawlins mysteries and he has a Masters too. So clearly, you
can earn an MFA and choose to write what you please. Good luck.


(This post was edited by Moonshade on May 11, 2008, 4:51 PM)


Zash
Zachary Ash

May 11, 2008, 4:50 PM

Post #94 of 344 (9203 views)
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Re: [dunnkc] Popular vs Literary Can't Post

And if you do decide to go it alone, you can always enroll in online workshops or go to summer workshops. I've done both. Excellent, easy-to-manage programs are UCLA Extension, Gotham Writers Workshop, and the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. With any of these, you can pursue popular writing unabashedly.


(This post was edited by Zash on May 11, 2008, 4:52 PM)


scheherazade


May 11, 2008, 6:21 PM

Post #95 of 344 (9178 views)
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Re: Popular vs Literary Can't Post

Thanks for the encouragement. I think Michael Chabon is probably my poster boy of an MFA grad writing stuff with popular appeal. If I had a trust fund or a large savings account, I'd probably just travel and live life and find things to write about. I don't, and so I certainly don't have the means to pay tens of thousands of dollars for an MFA degree. If I did any MFA it would have to be one that can pay my tuition and living expenses; there aren't a lot of programs that offer that luxury, and those that do seem to be on the more literary end of things.

If I'm putting myself in debt I don't think the degree is going to be that worthwhile to me in the end - because that just means I'm going to have to take on a job I dislike to pay my debt instead of being free to find part-time work that supports my writing life. I know I can take part-time classes through Gotham and at night school in my community, and I do this, but it's a lot harder to pour myself fully into my development as a writer when I'm dealing with a day job. The lure of the funded MFA is that you can have this safe space to focus only on your writing, to surround yourself with other people who have a similar goal, and you even get a degree at the end of it.

So I wondered if the professors in MFA programs would encourage writing sellable stuff - because there is sometimes a hostility to marketable writing among literary people. It's good to see that "popular" isn't necessarily a dirty word - I know Iowa in particular is considered by some to favor too popular an aesthetic - but I wonder if a student who had this philosophy would still face some pressure from some professors or classmates to take a more literary approach.


__________



May 12, 2008, 9:52 AM

Post #96 of 344 (9100 views)
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Re: [scheherazade] Popular vs Literary Can't Post

I'm no grad school authority, but my sense is that if they accept you in the first place, the worst you'll probably get is an urging to focus more on your characters and whatnot. All of my teachers read widely, and most didn't look down on popular fiction because it was popular; they just looked down on popular fiction that wasn't done well.

These distinctions have always sort of baffled me, anyway. Right now I'm reading Mysteries of Pittsburgh, and in the back there's this little Chabon essay that details how he, at 22, felt conflicted over his desire to write popular fiction, but also fiction with excellent prose, as if the two were mutually exclusive. And years later, when he does get around to it, the book's released with this strange, almost apologetic marketing attached -- a literary writer, writing about detectives! What a lark! Weirdness, I tell you.


six five four three two one 0 ->


ejdifili
Emily

May 12, 2008, 3:04 PM

Post #97 of 344 (9036 views)
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Re: [scheherazade] Popular vs Literary Can't Post


In Reply To
But I want to write stories that people - not just writers, but also my family and coworkers and neighbors - would enjoy reading. I like plot just as much as I like a finely crafted sentence.


I think I am coming from a similar place. I am the first person in my family to study literature or writing, and none of my best friends are writers or "literary" type people.

I do think there is a lot of well-written "academic" fiction that "regular" people could enjoy if they knew about it and took the time to read. A major problem is that most people in the modern-day US just don't read that much.

I have respect for more experimental work and its authors, but it's just not my kind of thing. I wouldn't consider that I do "pop lit," but I admit that I write more for the sake of crafting characters and telling stories than for doing super innovative things with language. Maybe this makes me an inferior writer in some people's eyes, but that would be pretty pretentious.

All this being said, I will be starting an MFA program in the fall, and I'm not really concerned that I'll be a stylistic outcast or anything. I have participated in multiple workshops--both at the undergraduate and graduate levels--and I never felt like my work was undervalued for being "conventionally" realistic and linguistically straightforward.


sicofelephants



May 12, 2008, 4:31 PM

Post #98 of 344 (9007 views)
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Re: [scheherazade] Popular vs Literary Can't Post

Just be sure you know how the schools you apply to feel about that kind of fiction. Some schools will explicity state on their FAQs page that they do not do genre fiction. So, if you want to write the next Hannibal Lecter series, just be sure you know whose school you're trying to do that through or you may be disappointed by your application results.

Personally, I'm hardcore into the "pretty" lit. Currently reading a book on why Neruda was such a ground breaker in Spanish-language poetry. I know French and Spanish, so translation studies interest me as well. For me, it was exciting to apply to schools that had foreign language requirements because I know they'll place an emphasis on language and how we can use it. I also dig experimental poets big time. I could care less if I ever sell a book of poems, and I don't know that huge publishing success will ever be a goal of mine.

Just as there are schools for people with my interests, I'm sure you'll find a school that'll work for you and prepare you for a successful, pleasing life.


GDClark
George David Clark

May 13, 2008, 5:29 PM

Post #99 of 344 (8888 views)
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Re: [sicofelephants] Popular vs Literary Can't Post

FIU might be a program for you to take a look at. An interesting blend of popular and more "literary" faculty.


aiyamei


May 13, 2008, 9:10 PM

Post #100 of 344 (8834 views)
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Re: [GDClark] Popular vs Literary Can't Post

Elizabeth Kostova graduated from a prestigious MFA program (Michigan), and afterward got a million dollar book deal for The Historian, a vampire novel. I tried to read it and it was quite pulpy. Just thought I'd put that out there as an example of how an MFA helped someone write a popular Stephen King-ish novel.

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