Jeanne Lyet Gassman
Nov 27, 2007, 12:17 PM
Post #147 of 329
Here is the promised sample of my SOP. It's for fiction, BLUECHEESE, so I don't know how helpful that will be to you, but this SOP did get help me get into the low-res school of my choice. I've redacted some of the personal information. Be sure, too, to go back through this thread and read the SOPs by HopperFu, Sibyllene (sp?), Maliber, and Arkenese. I used those as templates to design my own SOP.
Re: [BLUECHEESE] Austin's 250 word limit
Here you go:
I believe that an MFA in creative writing will afford me the opportunity to further develop my craft and provide me the credentials to teach as an adjunct at the community college level. I have been writing for over twenty-five years, actively seeking out workshops and courses to help me improve my skills. Three of the most notable workshops include: a week-long fiction writing workshop with Lee Smith at Duke University; a semester fiction-writing course (noncredit) with Alex Blackburn at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs; and three courses (noncredit) on writing the novel with Patricia Burroughs Collins County Community College, Plano, Texas. I have also attended numerous writing conferences and entered writing competitions. I have won several awards for my fiction, including an Encouragement Award in Creative Writing from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and an Artist Skills Building grant from the Creative Capital Foundation.
My formal training includes a bachelorâ€™s degree in English from [..] and one year of graduate study in English at the [..]. Due to the constraints of family commitments, my time to write has been limited. However, now that my children are grown, I am both ready and eager to pursue a concentrated course of study in the art of writing fiction.
My writing experiences have taught me to write solid, sometimes publishable prose, but I would like to take my writing from merely â€œgoodâ€ to excellent. I have always been comfortable in the workshop setting. In fact, when I first began writing seriously in the early 1980s, I founded the Stockton (California) Writers Association, a group that began with four members and expanded to over sixty participants by the end of my tenure as facilitator. Since then, I have continued to be involved in critique groups, some more productive than others. I am currently an active member of the [..], a highly successful (and published) group of writers who work on everything from nonfiction to poetry to short fiction to novels. Although this group is helpful to me, I am also acutely aware that Iâ€™ve reached a plateau in my craft. I want to stretch my boundaries, push beyond what I know and am comfortable with to produce writing that is more sophisticated and more creative. The MFA Program in Creative Writing of [..], with its focus on writing, reading, and critical analysis, will help me achieve those goals.
For the past few years, I have been working on two major projects: a collection of short stories and an historical novel. The short stories are contemporary in nature and tend to be about characters who have normal, everyday lives but make bad choices that throw them into unexpected and difficult situations. My novel is set in Tiberias in the first century C.E. and is about [..]. The stories are in various states of completion and revision, but the novel is currently in a final draft stage. Iâ€™m uncertain which project would be the most appropriate for the MFA Writing Program, but this is something I would like to explore with my faculty advisor. My primary goal for the MFA is to create a book-length work of publishable fiction; my secondary goal is to receive the credentials that will qualify me to teach as an adjunct at the community college level. I want to do this because I believe the teacher can learn as much about the craft from her students as her students can learn from her.
In my experience as a teacher of community writing workshops, I have discovered that itâ€™s just as important to teach what the student wants to know as it is to teach what the student needs to know. When I was first approached to teach a beginning fiction writing class, I sat down and made a list of everything I wished someone had told me when I began writing seriously. Then I broke down this list into four basic components: plot and conflict; character development; use of setting and time; and the function/mechanics of dialogue. This simple process of deconstruction proved to be illuminating. I discovered that when I had to explain how to write fiction, my own writing improved.
I am an eclectic and avid reader. In addition to reading the works submitted by my critique group, I read nonfiction articles and books as research for my novel-in-progress; short story collections; contemporary and classic works of fiction; memoirs; and books about the craft and business of writing. I read the fiction for pleasure and to study style and technique. I read nonfiction primarily for information. I believe that the critical reading component of your program, with its emphasis on reading as a writer, will help me to reach an even greater understanding of the craft.
Pursuing an MFA in creative writing is the best way for me to develop my craft as a writer and my skills as a teacher. The MFA Writing Program at [..] has a stellar reputation for its vibrant writing community and faculty mentorship. I would welcome the opportunity to become a member of that community.
Hope that is helpful.