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piratelizzy


Feb 2, 2007, 2:11 PM

Post #101 of 709 (7327 views)
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FSU Can't Post

There was much to agonize over as far as writing samples went... (So thankful the applying's over... though the waiting is difficult in its own ways).

Incredibly, at least to me, Florida State asked for *one* story. Just one! I tend to write shorter pieces, and this requirement begged the question then of whether my short shorts (not flash fiction, oh god no... usually in the 1500 to 4000 word range) could stand on their own competing against someone else's 25-page stories. I mean, it's an interesting question. Does a story have to be longer to have substance. I say no, but I did not want to take the chance of someone on the adm comm thinking it was a weak submission on length, so I sent two stories. I figure my two stories add up to about as much reading time as a normal one. And a reader always the option of discarding one of the stories.

This decision was made after a lot of deliberation, and I guess I feel like that was the way to go--my gut was speaking to me again that day. At the same time, I'd hate to think of someone being pissed off that I did not follow the rule of sending just one.

So many "ifs" while I wait. So many questions.


'sup?!


__________



Feb 2, 2007, 6:13 PM

Post #102 of 709 (7267 views)
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Re: [Glinda Bamboo] Writing Sample Can't Post


In Reply To

(I workshopped it in two other groups and started to have doubts.)



So...you had three different reactions? This is what makes me doubt workshops altogether... opinions will vary, of course, but I pulled one story--the one I was most sure of--after it was savaged by a second group. I left the first class feeling I was the next Joyce, and the second ready to slash my wrists. I wonder if, in the end (as you seem to suggest), we should just learn how to trust ourselves...


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Feb 2, 2007, 6:16 PM)


Arkinese


Feb 2, 2007, 10:30 PM

Post #103 of 709 (7226 views)
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Re: [piratelizzy] FSU Can't Post


In Reply To
Incredibly, at least to me, Florida State asked for *one* story. Just one! I tend to write shorter pieces, and this requirement begged the question then of whether my short shorts (not flash fiction, oh god no... usually in the 1500 to 4000 word range) could stand on their own competing against someone else's 25-page stories. I mean, it's an interesting question. Does a story have to be longer to have substance. I say no, but I did not want to take the chance of someone on the adm comm thinking it was a weak submission on length, so I sent two stories. I figure my two stories add up to about as much reading time as a normal one. And a reader always the option of discarding one of the stories.

Didn't you just love that? "A story." A friend of mine who is applying to other schools but not FSU laughed and said, "...Seriously?" I ended up sending what I consider my best story which is 20 pages exactly. I think you sending two short shorts is probably fine, especially if you consider both to be strong works. I would have liked to have sent two just because my 20-pager and my 5-pager are completely different in all aspects. But 25 pages isn't two short shorts!

The other good requirement is South Carolina's: A "sustained work" of fiction. ...What? So I sent the 20-pager since it's the best and the longest.


(This post was edited by Arkinese on Feb 2, 2007, 10:37 PM)


piratelizzy


Feb 3, 2007, 1:14 PM

Post #104 of 709 (7178 views)
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Re: [Arkinese] FSU Can't Post

Yeah, it's like the Eleusinian mysteries of the writing world. And here we are, waiting to be initiated. God knows what hallucinogen we'll be forced to gulp down on the first day of our first workshop. And the language on some of the schools' websites made me roll my eyes sometimes.

I stopped re-reading my samples, but have felt an unsually strong appetite to read other stuff lately. I've been scouring through Donald Barthelme's stories and feeling like my writing is pretty tame and old-fashioned compared to the kind of stuff he and people like him were writing forty years ago. Hopelessly outdated me. Darn.


'sup?!


LateApplicant


Feb 3, 2007, 2:15 PM

Post #105 of 709 (7159 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Writing Sample Can't Post

Hi A. B.,

Here's a thought: maybe we should separate two different issues: confidence in one's work, and the impact of the suggestions we receive in workshop. Granted, these two things tend to go together, but, as writers, we should try to keep them apart. That is, if I have enough confidence in my work, and am therefore able to see whether, say, this story of mine is salvageable or not -- and let's assume that, in this particular case, I know the story is indeed salvageable, even fairly good --, then I will be able to distinguish feedback that is constructive (that is, suggestions that make me see "blindspots", things that I might do to strengthen the story, etc.) from feedback that is simply useless or destructive. Then, if I'm sure the story is good enough, I'll be able to disregard the useless feedback, instead of taking it as evidence that the story isn't good. If we can take that attitude, we'll certainly benefit from the workshop experience. Because, while it's true that everywhere we'll have divergent opinions and feedback that is (probably unintentionally) misguided, we'll also have good suggestions that will improve our work. I think it's worth it to go into workshop in search of the latter; that is, weeding out the suggestions that don't resonate with me and my work.

Of course, easier said than done... Hope this helps, though.


Tapeworm


Feb 6, 2007, 1:00 AM

Post #106 of 709 (7063 views)
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What did people write about? Can't Post

This would probably be easier with Fiction...

I have yet to find a thread in which people discussed what there stories, or poems, were actually about. I am curious as to what kind of stories people sent to their schools. Is this aloud? Is it dangerous? Is there a reason it hasn't been brought up? Or am I just really bad at searching the forums?

So, if there is no harm in doing so, I wouldn't mind to hear what you folks submitted. It doesn't have to be an analysis; a simple few sentences should do the trick. Give me the, "It's okay to share!" and I'll give the low-down on what I submitted.


malber


Feb 6, 2007, 1:17 AM

Post #107 of 709 (7057 views)
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Re: [Tapeworm] What did people write about? Can't Post

Well, even if it's not okay, I don't care. :)

I submitted two pieces to every school (all 11) that I applied to. One was a 19 page story about a vaccuum repair conman. Along with his boss, he goes around to retail stores trying to convince the managers he has been authorized to fix their vaccuum. The other, an 11 pager, was about an obsessive flyer-er who competes for a town's telephone pole space with a woman who doesn't even know he exists. But really, they're both about truth and beauty and humanity (yeah right :))


prosaic70


Feb 6, 2007, 1:29 AM

Post #108 of 709 (7052 views)
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Re: [Tapeworm] What did people write about? Can't Post

I had 2 stories too...
an 18 pager with 7-8 sections, from the point of view of a kid 14-18 years old (depending on the section) and charting his descent from small-time liar into a chronic basket case.
and a 12 pager from the point of view of an orphan who goes through a succession of bad masters, till he triumphs by becoming a judge (set in 19th century India); pretty much a basic picaresque story and a riff on lazarillo de tormes...


Tapeworm


Feb 6, 2007, 1:41 AM

Post #109 of 709 (7050 views)
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Re: [malber] What did people write about? Can't Post

Haha, the synopsis of your second story made me laugh.

I applied to 10 schools, had 3 stories, and, depending on the requirements, either sent 2 or all 3.

15 Pager: A man with a love for feet tries to win back the heart of a lost love who recently tiled his bathroom floor. The journey takes place in a single day and in such exotic locations as the floorcoverings department of a home improvement store, a beach, and an ER awning.

15 Pager: Two siblings turn to Magic Grow animals as a means to feed their dying camp now that their minister father has passed away. The sister is becoming a young woman, while the younger brother tries to make sense of his role in the camp, in the family, and in life.

7 Pager: A married couple has lost their only son, and when a mightly strong snowstorm comes into town, they invite a homeless man over for dinner in hopes of doing something kind and filling the empty space in their home. Tears fall.


jargreen


Feb 6, 2007, 1:42 AM

Post #110 of 709 (7050 views)
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Re: [malber] What did people write about? Can't Post

Those are awesome plots, malber. My stories feel very conventional to me, boring perhaps. I sent one 35-page story to all eight of my schools, and an additional 10-pager to the three schools that explicitly recommended sending two. My big story was about a group of suburban Milwaukee teenagers who take a trip up to a family cabin on Lake Winnebago in 1989 to spy on their parents who are having a hippie revival weekend. The second story was told from a young boy's perspective as he looks back on his grandmother's death and the eerie suspicion caused by her last words to him - "Don't you never listen to the devil." I must say, the process of selecting a writing sample was different than I'd imagined it would be: "Never Listen to the Devil" was to be the centerpiece of my sample, but even though it was written three years ago, I still never got around to revising it; dissatisfied with my earlier work, I wrote "Lake Winnebago" the weekend before it was due at Michigan. Yeah, I love my chances.


malber


Feb 6, 2007, 1:48 AM

Post #111 of 709 (7044 views)
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Re: [jargreen] What did people write about? Can't Post

thanks, jar.
hey, you might not think you've got a good shot, but damn, you have to admire the moxy :)


Tapeworm


Feb 6, 2007, 2:01 AM

Post #112 of 709 (7038 views)
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Re: [jargreen] What did people write about? Can't Post

"hippie revial"? That sounds juicy. Tell me the kids find their parents partaking in an earthly orgy.


hamholio


Feb 6, 2007, 8:59 AM

Post #113 of 709 (6997 views)
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Re: [Tapeworm] What did people write about? Can't Post

My stories were centered around character and voice. In one Richard Nixon is compared to Christ, 4th graders are compared to wrestlers and a teacher's nebulous feelings force her to move from Nebraska to Illinois.

The other was a rambler that experiences September, compares himself to everyone and suffers a bloody nose that keeps him from desired intimacy. Was it self-sabotage or simply the rambler's nature?


__________



Feb 6, 2007, 10:16 AM

Post #114 of 709 (6964 views)
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Re: [hamholio] What did people write about? Can't Post

Sweet. This is like that list in the back of Best American, except fun. I held off on sending out my application, but the stories were:

-- A group of fetishists hires a deaf woman to lip read and transcribe the inaudible conversations of movie extras. She then solves a mystery.

-- A divorcing couple can't make Hair Club for Men payments, must fend off Hair Club repo man. Meanwhile, their neighbor, a dying, elderly man, is busy killing off his friends; he can't bear dying without knowing how their 'stories' end.


six five four three two one 0 ->


gfisher


Feb 6, 2007, 10:40 AM

Post #115 of 709 (6940 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] What did people write about? Can't Post

I sent off one heavily revised story, which I may have gone overboard with and am still not happy. Also sent one that was not polished, but works. For example, I am still working on the issue of conveying the passage of time properly. But I liked the story, the prose, and the ending.

1: Abotu a middle-aged woman returning to S America after years abroad to visit her dying father, facing the reasons why she left, then the feelings of why she suddenly wants to come back, etc. A piece about place and belonging and idealizing.

2: Follows a boy to his old age, who is a follower, and follows his way through life meeting different people that direct him to the next people, his wife, etc. At the end is, unconciously, somewhat himself, without having realized it, makes decision...

you know the drill...


lculli18


Feb 6, 2007, 11:07 AM

Post #116 of 709 (6918 views)
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Re: [gfisher] What did people write about? Can't Post

I submitted two pieces. One is a short (7 pages) excerpt of what I hope will become a longer work about the death of a family's matriarch.
The other (about 20 pages) is a story about two women who live above/below each other in an apartment building, so they are basically living lives "separately together."


piratelizzy


Feb 6, 2007, 11:39 AM

Post #117 of 709 (6890 views)
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Re: [lculli18] What did people write about? Can't Post

Two stories for most schools, three in two cases:

1. Eight pages, tidier and more succinct than #2 below, though with more plot. An afternoon in the life of a tomboy crossing over into adolescence, with a coda giving a glimpse of a coming breach in family life.

2. Twenty pages, more attention to form than plot, a little rambling. About a young guy in jail, though set in his head.

3. Ten pages, unorthodox structure, scratchy language (think "record scratching," more or less). Two women have a philosophical argument about working and growing old; one takes a shower.


'sup?!


bighark


Feb 6, 2007, 12:00 PM

Post #118 of 709 (6863 views)
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Re: [piratelizzy] What did people write about? Can't Post

1) 13 pages about a man who tries to retreat from failure by trying to live like a college kid.

2) 7 pages of what my most recent litmag rejection letter describes as "a quirky, upsetting piece."

I only submitted this next one to two places, Johns Hopkins and The Art Institute of Chicago. It's a little freaky.

3) 31 pages, bifurcated into parallel columns. Right-hand column is a found object, the transcript of an internet relay chat where one of the participants overdoses and dies. Left-hand column features a chat "bot" from the right-hand column going through an ontological crisies as its faces the death of its creator.


muttonfish


Feb 6, 2007, 12:09 PM

Post #119 of 709 (6853 views)
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Re: [bighark] What did people write about? Can't Post

Sounds like you should have sent number 3 to Brown. You would have been a lock. <joke, sort of>


piratelizzy


Feb 6, 2007, 12:10 PM

Post #120 of 709 (6850 views)
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Re: [bighark] What did people write about? Can't Post

Hey biggie,

#3 sounds cool as heck! Interest definitely piqued. I've been wanting to write something with a machine as protagonist. And the machine's name is William Burroughs. Hahah. Don't know why that cracks me up. Except that "machine" sounds so thirty years ago and too mechanical. I'm afraid I'm not digital enough. And anyway, what would Chekhov say?


'sup?!


bighark


Feb 6, 2007, 12:13 PM

Post #121 of 709 (6848 views)
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Re: [muttonfish] What did people write about? Can't Post

Sadly, Brown said no thanks to that piece two years ago.


Arkinese


Feb 6, 2007, 1:33 PM

Post #122 of 709 (6810 views)
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Re: [Tapeworm] What did people write about? Can't Post

I applied to 14 schools and fortunately I was able to submit only two stories to almost all of them because I think my third story is....it's speculative and I've edited it like 47 times and...you know...it's weird and maybe needed to be "killed" as Stephen King would say.

Anywho...

5-pager: I used to think I couldn't write fiction because I sounded too phony. But then I wrote this piece in the voice of a 17-year-old boy who goes on his first date (I'm 26 and female), "based on a true story" and it sort of took off from there. It's funny but kind of poignant because this kid has a really awful date.

20-pager: Minor-league baseball pitcher who just had Tommy John surgery stuck at home, in the suburbs of Chicago, rehab-ing his arm. Dad's a drunk, Mom's miserable, he wants to go to Spring Training with his girlfriend and get away from his family, especially his football-obsessed dad. Psychic-ly predicted the Bears losing the Super Bowl (schools may find it a little weird when they read it because I obviously wrote it before the Bowl), probably shouldn't have sent it to UIUC now that it actually happened....

17-pager: the spec fic...involves temporal lobe epilepsy, a Nielsen TV ratings diary, a brain with the narrative voice of an automechanic from Brooklyn, and a TV who talks like a Paris Hilton Valley Girl groupie.


I didn't even realize the Super Bowl issue as I watched it on Sunday. I would have changed the location but I set the story in Chicago before I ever titled it. It became the father-son dynamic and at the end of writing, I looked it over and thought: "Duh. Call it 'Bears and Cubs....'"


Elika619


Feb 6, 2007, 3:00 PM

Post #123 of 709 (6757 views)
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Re: [Arkinese] What did people write about? Can't Post

Everyone's stories sounds so interesting! Here are mine:

1) a 12-pager, about a miserly old man who lives in a small town in Georgia, terrorizing the neighborhood kids.

2) another 12-pager, about a Japanese woman working as a housemaid/on a pineapple plantation in 1920s Hawaii.

Anyways, I've resolved not to read them now that I've sent them off.


Tapeworm


Feb 6, 2007, 3:12 PM

Post #124 of 709 (6742 views)
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Re: [bighark] What did people write about? Can't Post

"'a quirky, upsetting piece'"

Ahaha...what the hell does that mean? Does that me they liked it, but were so troubled by it they kicked it out? Or they found it frustrating? I wish I got a rejection like that.


OneWriter


Feb 6, 2007, 6:12 PM

Post #125 of 709 (6673 views)
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Re: [Elika619] What did people write about? Can't Post

I know absolutely nothing about your story except that it's about a Japanese woman working as a housemaid on a pineapple plantation in 1920s Hawaii, and already I'm intrigued. I think it might be the pineapple. I bought a fresh one the other day at the market; it is such an interesting shaped fruit, and it seems like such a setting would be teeming with potential description and language. Sounds cool.

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