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yeahright


Apr 30, 2008, 7:57 PM

Post #201 of 213 (4255 views)
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Re: [jvogtman] Need to be published to get an MFA? Can't Post


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let's face it, it is much much easier to get published when one has an MFA from a well-known school.


And the evidence of this is where? Personally, I'm friends with five published authors (none self-published or friend published) who don't have MFAs. Two are best sellers (one we're talking Central Park Manhattan view best selling). One doesn't even have a college degree.

Now will someone who spends two to three years writing full-time, working on craft, growing as a writer, thinking, living, breathing writing have better success getting published than someone who doesn't? Hell, yea. But that it's easier to get published with an MFA from a well known school is completely fallacious. Prove it.


AncaLS


Apr 30, 2008, 9:12 PM

Post #202 of 213 (4237 views)
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Re: [captaintodd] Advice for first-time teachers Can't Post

I actually just took a job as a paralegal to see if another kind of work would allow me to save more creative energy, since teaching does seem to zap it all away. So far, even if the work itself is less engaging (or maybe because it isn't), I do have more energy for writing.


In Reply To

I've been able to get the most writing done while working as an accountant. As a teacher, I think I wrote two poems the entire year. I think there is much to be said about using another part of your head and finding work that doesnt require daily planning and grading on top of doing the actual work...



__________



Apr 30, 2008, 11:42 PM

Post #203 of 213 (4205 views)
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Re: [Heroics Manias] Need to be published to get an MFA? Can't Post

Are you kidding? An MFA from the right school can make all the difference. Of course, we might be just talking journal pubs, here. Some editors initially separate the MFA's from the non-MFA's. And a good percentage cull the ones from Iowa or Irvine and put them in a special pile. Doesn't mean they'll get published, but they do get special attention, whether it means a first read, or, at one college mag I worked for, any read at all.

And I think with poetry, it's even worse. Think of all the post-post, post-avant, Langpo, experimental writers. Like abstract painting, some of it is so easy to produce, you need a degree to legitimize it. Think of all the experimental poets from UMass, and how their poems and books are mostly published by UMass alumni. For almost everyone else, the only way to get a poetry book published is through the university-sponsored contest system. And those are all judged by a very small number of MFA-embedded, careerist poets.

Dunno about agents and full length fiction, but I imagine an MFA from Iowa or Irvine would confer a small advantage, at least in the getting read department. But here, the experience of my friends and acquaintances has been the same -- the MFA didn't really matter.


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Apr 30, 2008, 11:44 PM)


yeahright


May 1, 2008, 9:52 AM

Post #204 of 213 (4160 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Need to be published to get an MFA? Can't Post


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Are you kidding? An MFA from the right school can make all the difference. Of course, we might be just talking journal pubs, here.


I'll give you that point. The big name schools seem to be very good at creating short story writers. But when I look at the MFA big ss writers who have gone on to write novels or at least work on novels, there is, IMO, a failure there. Why did Nathan Englander take ten years to write A Ministry of Special Cases? Why does Z.Z. Packer still not have a novel out yet?

One of these days an MFA program is going to wise up and do a little refocusing and allow the novel to be workshopped over the course of the program and create as many novelists as they produce ss writers.


HollinsMFAer
Luke Johnson


May 1, 2008, 11:05 AM

Post #205 of 213 (4144 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Need to be published to get an MFA? Can't Post

While I see your point as far as the top tier programs go, I'd argue that listing you're an MFA student at all, regardless of the institution, might put you at a disadvantage. As you said, some journals seperate MFA folk from the rest of the pile right off the bat. I think it's much wiser when sending out work, if you are an MFA student, to simply list any publications you may have rather than starting off the bio with "I am a student in the MFA program at so-and-so university." And if there are no pubs, simply tell them where you're from, some jobs you've held. My thinking is that a journal editor is much more likely to want to publish an unknown, unpublished everyguy than just another unpublished MFA student. All this merely to say, I disagree that a prestigious MFA puts anyone on the short-track to publication, though obviously if you're in one of these programs one would hope you can write pretty damn well, and thus rightly earn many acceptances.


http://www.lukejohnsonpoetry.com


writerteacher


May 1, 2008, 1:02 PM

Post #206 of 213 (4111 views)
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Re: [Heroics Manias] Need to be published to get an MFA? Can't Post


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One of these days an MFA program is going to wise up and do a little refocusing and allow the novel to be workshopped over the course of the program and create as many novelists as they produce ss writers.


There already is an MFA program with a novel workshop. VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) offers traditional short fiction workshops, but there's also a 2-semester novel workshop open to second- and third-year students. Faculty rotates every year, but since all the instructors are successful novelists (as well as good teachers), there's very little grousing about not being able to get the "ideal" instructor.

I'm taking novel workshop starting in the fall. The idea is to have a complete first draft by the end of the spring semester. There's a maximum of 8 students. A student can develop the novel or short stories or a combination as a thesis. I'm hoping to have both a collection -- possibly two -- and a novel by the time I'm done.

I'm excited and a little freaked.

Anyway, VCU is the only program in the country (last I checked) that offers an MFA novel workshop; they've offered it for the last eight years, and it dovetails with the annual First Novelist Award, which is a prize open to any first-time novelist published by a U.S. press in the previous calendar year. Last year's award went to Peter Orner.

I read somewhere recently that novel workshops are derided by MFA programs, largely because they're "harder" to teach/lead than short fiction. To that I say, feh; it's all debatable. I'll let you know how it turns out for me this time next year.

WT


yeahright


May 1, 2008, 1:29 PM

Post #207 of 213 (4091 views)
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Re: [writerteacher] Need to be published to get an MFA? Can't Post

See, having completed two novels, I don't see that a two-semester novel writing workshop with a goal of a completed first draft is much use. I guess I would have to see how it was done in a more specific sense, but what flubbed up Englander was overwriting and last I heard with Packer, she had the same issue, something like 500 pages and counting and only 2/3 of the way done.

How many first drafts of first novels are 75,000-90,000 industry standard? Can a program teach its students to get a novel from first inkling to this word count in two semesters?


writerteacher


May 1, 2008, 2:18 PM

Post #208 of 213 (4070 views)
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Re: [Heroics Manias] Need to be published to get an MFA? Can't Post

I really think there are two advantages. First (and this goes for any kind of MFA writing) is the discipline of committed writing. I am going to draft a novel; it is expected that I do; my success in the program depends on it; I've chosen to challenge myself in this way. There will be serious readers and an experienced writer dedicated to my success checking my progress and guiding me along the way. I'll have deadlines (which is *very* motivating for me, though I know other writers don't work well with them) and because of all this, I will draft a novel.

That's more than an awful lot of would-be novelists accomplish.

Second, I think, is doing away with idea that writing a novel is something that "real writers" do, after they've taken baby-steps with short stories. This is a whole other discussion, but the VCU novel workshop is presented as "just" another form of writing; not something to get all clenched over. (Although I'm pretty clenched.)

I don't know about word counts or how first drafts come out or how they're supposed to come out or if it's different for everyone (which is what I suspect). I just know that I am committed to writing a novel and my program is giving me the time and guidance to do it, and I'm grateful.

As I said, I'll report back dutifully a year from now.

WT


bighark


May 1, 2008, 5:14 PM

Post #209 of 213 (4026 views)
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Re: [writerteacher] Need to be published to get an MFA? Can't Post

SAIC has a novel workshop.


hamlet3145


May 1, 2008, 5:21 PM

Post #210 of 213 (4022 views)
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Re: [bighark] Need to be published to get an MFA? Can't Post

Also, Kevin Canty teaches a novel workshop at Montana about every other year or so.


unsaid78


Jul 30, 2009, 8:54 PM

Post #211 of 213 (3757 views)
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MFA Collab Blog Can't Post

Hey all,

We're starting a collaborative blog for people who are entering CW MFA programs in Fall 2009. This blog could be a good way to record how people progress through different programs and how the MFA contributes/doesn't contribute to their future decisions. So far, 1st years from UVA, Virginia Tech, Minnesota, Hollins, and SIU-C have confirmed interest in contributing. If anyone else is interested in collaborating on the blog, please send me a PM with your email address so I can add you as a contributor.

We're calling it The MFA Chronicles. :)

Thanks!


www.mfachronicles.blogspot.com - Follow us as we begin our 1st years in MFA programs!


taraberyl



Jul 31, 2009, 12:31 AM

Post #212 of 213 (3718 views)
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Re: [unsaid78] MFA Collab Blog Can't Post

i can't contribute but i DO want to read it so post the link when it's up!!


unsaid78


Jul 31, 2009, 12:54 PM

Post #213 of 213 (3668 views)
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Re: [taraberyl] MFA Collab Blog Can't Post

Hey! We've got the blog up and introductory posts are trickling in! One of us already has homework! lol Check out http://mfachronicles.blogspot.com/

We are still open to contributors who are starting in 2009 so please PM me with your email address so you can be a part of The MFA Chronicles!


www.mfachronicles.blogspot.com - Follow us as we begin our 1st years in MFA programs!

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