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Larson G


Feb 7, 2007, 2:13 PM

Post #1376 of 2637 (16536 views)
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Just for the sake of argument [In reply to] Can't Post

I know MFA programs will force you to write, offer a community, skills development, etc. But, couldn't someone just save the several thousand bucks and just do selected workshops? Won't a committed writer find his/her audience regardless of their degree?

I don't want to offend anyone who reads this, as I know many people are spending big bucks on their education. i just wonder if credentials really trump hustle and commitment (and talent).


v1ctorya


Feb 7, 2007, 2:27 PM

Post #1377 of 2637 (16527 views)
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Re: [Larson G] Just for the sake of argument [In reply to] Can't Post

It depends on what you want to do. I adjunct at a college, and started while I was in a Masters program - one I never finished. So now they want me to get a masters, any masters to continue teaching there so I have better credentials.


piratelizzy


Feb 7, 2007, 2:40 PM

Post #1378 of 2637 (16516 views)
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Re: [Larson G] Just for the sake of argument [In reply to] Can't Post

For me it's not so much about credentials as community, by far. I'm tired of wandering around the country and finding the same anti-art, anti-intellectual, anti-anything-creative climate wherever I go. Even in NYC, it has been difficult to find a writing group where I feel at home--so many of the leads turn into nothing, or the group turns out to be full of arrogants or famous-wannabes. (Although I hear good things about the 92nd St Y's writing classes). So I'd like to spend a couple of years in a place where all of that disappears and the first priority is writing and I am surrounded by people who care about similar things. It is an ideal, and maybe not exactly in tune with reality, but it beats going another decade of letting my writing wither in the darl and of feeling more discouraged each day.


'sup?!


SP Rankin


Feb 7, 2007, 4:00 PM

Post #1379 of 2637 (16479 views)
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Re: [piratelizzy] Just for the sake of argument [In reply to] Can't Post

For me, discovering a writing community was one of the unexpected benefits of a low-res program. Though we were physically together only twice a year, the Queens structure of ongoing distance workshops meant we stayed connected. And now that I'm out, those connections still remain. I'm not a group-ish kind of person, which is one reason I thought low-res was a good option for me, but I underestimated the powerful encouragement there is simply being in regular contact with other people who care about writing.

Also, for me, officially entering a writing program forced me to make writing a priority which in turn allowed me to make writing a central part of my life. Paying a lot of money for the experience prevented me from shoving it on the back burner.

Please understand, I would never say that to be a writer, you need to enroll in a writing program or that an MFA grants you access to some fancy super secret writers club. However, in my case, I have discovered tangible and intangible benefits from having done so nearly every day, and I've never once regretted the personal or financial sacrifices I've had to make.


rooblue


Feb 7, 2007, 9:35 PM

Post #1380 of 2637 (16422 views)
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Re: [Larson G] Just for the sake of argument [In reply to] Can't Post

Larson
I just finished my MFA at Warren Wilson. In general, the calibre of writers at a competitive MFA program is going to be higher than most workshops, even ones with so called "entrance" requirements. I've been to three workshops that were competitive -- you had to submit a writing sample to be considered -- and I was fairly disappointed to learn that most of the people in even the competitive programs were still pretty much beginners. I'll probably never attend another workshop; I have a strong writing community built up from my time at Warren Wilson and I'll use them for my readers, even if we have to read each other's work mostly through email. I hope this answer helps. I have a full time job so I didn't get the degree because I wanted to teach -- I got it because I wanted to be a better writer. I'm a good-enough writer now that the idea of a mixed-calibre workshop no longer has any appeal.


Rambler


Feb 8, 2007, 10:37 PM

Post #1381 of 2637 (16347 views)
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Re: [rooblue] Just for the sake of argument [In reply to] Can't Post

rooblue,
I am just about to apply to Warren Wilson. Any last minute tips for me? Also, any suggestions that might help my application fare better (I hear it's pretty competitive to get in) or comments about how difficult it is to be accepted?


Foust
Foust

Feb 9, 2007, 2:07 PM

Post #1382 of 2637 (16277 views)
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Re: [Onyx] In at Spalding [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Onyx!
I had my first Spalding residency in November and I am very pleased with the program. I came home encouraged about the quality of my writing, but also knowing that being at Spalding will make it better. The core organizers have had experience with other low-res programs, so even though it's a new-ish program, they definitely have things running smoothly. There's heavy emphasis on positive feedback, so you come away from the program with knowledge rather than with tire tracks running down your back.

Feel free to ask me any questions--I don't think too many others here are familiar with Spalding. And congratulations!

Cheers!
Foust


www.foustart.com


keywestwriter
Dan

Feb 12, 2007, 1:40 PM

Post #1383 of 2637 (16185 views)
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Re: [Onyx] In at Spalding [In reply to] Can't Post

As a Spalding Grad I want to assure you that you have made a wise decision. I was in fiction and the quality of the mentors, the residency, the overall feeling and support is tremendous. If you would like to discuss any concerns feel free to email me directly at dantidi@aol.com


Blue-Xela


Feb 17, 2007, 3:42 PM

Post #1384 of 2637 (16092 views)
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2008/09 anyone? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi,

My name is Tom and I've been trolling this MFA thread for a while. After missing this year's deadline, I am going to apply to 8 low-res programs by January/Feb of 2008. Just looking for general advice and moral support and specific guidance on how everyone was able to afford the costs.

Here's my tentative list (in no particular order):

1. Queens College
2. Lesley
3. Stonecoast
4. Bennington
5. Vermont College
6. Goucher
7. Spalding
8. Warren Wilson

I'm also hoping to double-major in creative non-fiction and fiction.

Is anyone else applying for the NEXT calendar year?


Ms. Proulx


Feb 17, 2007, 9:48 PM

Post #1385 of 2637 (16055 views)
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Re: [Blue-Xela] 2008/09 anyone? [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't know about all of these, but Bennington and Warren Wilson have deadlines of March 1 for admission to the program beginning in the summer.

http://www.bennington.edu/acad_grad_writ.asp


darredet
Darren A. Deth


Feb 18, 2007, 1:08 PM

Post #1386 of 2637 (16002 views)
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Re: [Blue-Xela] 2008/09 anyone? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey Tom:

I am a second semester fiction student at Vermont College. If you have any questions about the program, please feel free to ask.

If you do a double major you will need to attend an extra semester, meaning you will be looking at six residencies. This of course translates into another seven to eight thousand dollars.

As far as affording the cost--well, there's always social security checks to pay off student loans.

Good luck.

Darren


Blue-Xela


Feb 18, 2007, 1:36 PM

Post #1387 of 2637 (15986 views)
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Re: [darredet] 2008/09 anyone? [In reply to] Can't Post

It'll probably come to that I'm sure. ;)

How has your Vermont College experience been like so far?

And more importantly, how much time are you able to devote to writing during non-residency weeks, and how much time do you spend working to pay the bills?

Are there any rap sessions with agents and/or editors at Vermont College or is that something that'll happen third or fourth semester?

Is the program more focused on craft or learning how to be a creative writing teacher? I choose the former; no offense to anyone, but I'm a little classroom shy, which is one reason I am not investing research into programs like Goddard.

Thanks for any insight.


darredet
Darren A. Deth


Feb 18, 2007, 2:39 PM

Post #1388 of 2637 (15961 views)
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Re: [Blue-Xela] 2008/09 anyone? [In reply to] Can't Post

My experience at VC has been extraordinary. The first residency is always the toughest. There is that wall you hit midway through it. Mine hit the day my manuscript was workshopped. It wasn't so much the actual critiquing that got to me as much as the sheer volume of it. One hour doesn't sound like a lot, but when you're on the hot seat and can't say anything until the end it is an eternity. I found myself taking the rest of the day off just so I could assimilate the information, and to let my hand loosen up from scribbling notes furiously. You will not have time to write during the residencies. There are student readings, faculty readings, visiting writer readings and informal talks--all of which are in addition to the lectures. There are events, too, that help to give your head a break, like talent shows and renegade readings.

Each semester, when you are out of the residency you can count on reading at least ten books. There are usually two essays per packet. Depending on who you have for an advisor the creative work can range anywhere from 20 to 40 pages per packet. They say you should spend at least 25 hours per week on the work. Now, I don't actually sit at my computer writing or reading for 25 hours; I include time spent drafting things in my head, or recording notes in the car. One of the smartest things I did was purchase a digital voice recorder that I can use whenever I can't free up my hands to write.

At the last residency we did have a panel group of publishers. Also, one of the students there is currently involved with a lit magazine. He gave a great presentation on publishing in those markets, including a sample cover letter and several web-sites well worth checking out.

Your third semester you work on your critical thesis. The fourth semester entails working on your creative thesis and your lecture. Each graduating student gives a 45 minute lecture and a 20 minute reading.

The main focus of the program is craft. There is not a big push for teaching, although that is what many of us want to do. That's what I want to do.

If you have any further questions, bring them on. Oh, Louise Crowley and Melissa Fisher, the Administrators of the program are extremely friendly and will be more than willing to answer any of your questions that I don't have answers to.

Darren


jacarty
Jessie Carty
e-mail user

Feb 19, 2007, 8:33 AM

Post #1389 of 2637 (15894 views)
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Re: [Blue-Xela] 2008/09 anyone? [In reply to] Can't Post

I have some earlier comments in another thread about Queens but I'll give you some brief comments here as well.

I am in my first semester at Queens in poetry and it is going very well. I met someone who is doing poetry and creative non-fiction and they are alternating semesters I believe. Not sure how the thesis works in the end on that.

As far as affording it, **sigh**, the FAFSA student loan is going to be my primary source. I have used savings to pay for my first semester and hopefully I will have enough to pay for my last. Good thing about low-res and keeping your full-time job is that sometimes you can swing that.

I love the program so far and I am just starting my new reading list for the May residency. Please feel free to post any specific questions. Thanks!

--oh. I do know someone who is attending Warren Wilson and they love their program as well, but they are also in poetry so sorry I don't have a lot on the non-fiction end. We are reading some good books this semester for our residency though in non-fiction-- :)

Jessie


http://jessiecarty.com


Blue-Xela


Feb 19, 2007, 10:20 AM

Post #1390 of 2637 (15866 views)
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Re: [jacarty] 2008/09 anyone? [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks Darren and Jessie.

If anyone wants to email exchange stories and/or essays, I'd be into giving feedback and receiving it ... I understand you are both up to your ears in critiquing, so if not it's cool. Unfortunately, I wouldn't know the first step in giving feedback on a poem (sorry Jess), but the offer still stands with prose writers.

Also is there anything I should prepare for at this early stage of the game?


writerle


Feb 19, 2007, 12:12 PM

Post #1391 of 2637 (15832 views)
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Re: [Blue-Xela] 2008/09 anyone? [In reply to] Can't Post

Welcome to the board. I am also in my second semester at Vermont College (hi Darren!) and so far, the experience has been a very positive one for me as well.

I don't have too much to add to what Darren has said so far, but as far as what you should focus on at this point, I would say your writing sample should be given top priority. It is by far the most important part of the application. Also, read some of the books by the faculty at the various programs you are interested in applying to. I did this when I was trying to make my decision, and it really helped me to get a feel for what the faculty was like.

As far as the money thing goes, unfortunately, as other people have noted, there isn't much funding for the low res programs. I chose this path because I have a husband and four children and it simply wasn't possible for me to pick up and move. There are student loans, which is how I am paying for much of my tuition. And, as previously noted, you can keep your job and work full-time in a low-res program. I do substitute teaching. It may not be right for everyone, but it pays pretty well where I'm from and I love the flexibility. For me, the benefits I am gaining from this program far outweigh the expenses. My writing has improved tremendously since I started at Vermont College and I have met many wonderful people. I have no regrets.

Good luck with your application process, and if you have any further questions, don't hesitate to ask.


flatiron10


Feb 19, 2007, 2:23 PM

Post #1392 of 2637 (15796 views)
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Re: [writerle] 2008/09 anyone? [In reply to] Can't Post

Writerle, with kids and the husband and the job, how do you find time to actually write? I love the idea of a low-res program, but I'm concerned about working full time and finding time to write 25 hours a week...

Also, how strong is the community of writers everyone interacts with in your respective low-res programs. How often would you say you communicate with those writers?


writerle


Feb 19, 2007, 2:54 PM

Post #1393 of 2637 (15776 views)
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Re: [jennatelesca] 2008/09 anyone? [In reply to] Can't Post

It can be difficult finding the time to write. I waited to go back to school until my kids were older (my youngest is 12 and my oldest 17). Also, I don't work full time. I substitute teach about 2 - 3 days a week, and the other days, I write while my kids are at school. When they were younger, it was much harder. I would write while the kids were napping, or at night, when my husband could watch them.

The 25 hours a week is an ideal, but often, I don't have that much time. Also, the 25-hour-a-week recommendation common to most low res programs includes non-writing tasks - reading, composing critical papers, writing monthly letters to your advisor, brainstorming, etc. Most of these tasks I can accomplish when my family is home because they don't require as much intense concentration. I try to use the hours when I do have the house to myself for the actual creative work, because I can't write when the house is noisy.

I would say the sense of community at Vermont College is fairly strong. We do not have a workshop format over the course of the semester (as I believe Queens does), but we do keep in touch. There are people I communicate with at least once or twice a month. And the residencies take on the feel of a family reunion after awhile. I've met many wonderful writers at VC and made lots of friends. This has been one of the best aspects of the program for me because I really didn't have any friends that were writers before I started at Vermont.


emmataylor


Feb 19, 2007, 3:10 PM

Post #1394 of 2637 (15767 views)
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Re: [jacarty] 2008/09 anyone? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi,

I'm in my senior year undergrad and planning to apply to low residency programs next year. On the subject of affording a low-res program, you mentioned using savings to pay for some of the tuition. Is it possible to finance the entire tuition through student loans? Unfortunately, I don't have any savings. Being poor as a church mouse, I've counted on not having to pay for my education until I actually have a writing-related teaching job. Is this an unrealistic expectation?

Thanks,
Amy


darredet
Darren A. Deth


Feb 19, 2007, 3:23 PM

Post #1395 of 2637 (15762 views)
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Re: [jennatelesca] 2008/09 anyone? [In reply to] Can't Post

I am married, have two daughters ages 10 and 12, and work full time--and I still find the time to get in close to twenty hours a week at the computer or reading. The other five or more hours constitute pretty much what Writerle said. You'll be amazed at how creative you can become in finding ways to get the work done. It all depends on how much you want the MFA.

I also communicate with three or more writers in the program as well, at least once a month if not more.

Darren


darredet
Darren A. Deth


Feb 19, 2007, 3:27 PM

Post #1396 of 2637 (15755 views)
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Re: [emmataylor] 2008/09 anyone? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Amy:

Yes, you can finance the entire tuition with student loans. I believe the maximum you can take out per year for the stafford loan, at least I think that's what it's called, is $18,000 a year. Right now VC runs around $6700 per semester.

Darren


jacarty
Jessie Carty
e-mail user

Feb 19, 2007, 4:37 PM

Post #1397 of 2637 (15724 views)
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Re: [emmataylor] 2008/09 anyone? [In reply to] Can't Post

Some comments from the good conversation that is ongoing:

Workshop: Queens does have the workshop format. So at the first of each month we turn in work for critique. For myself that is 5-10 pages of poetry and I have two other people in my workshop group. They each review my work as does our assigned professor. You have a week to respond to your fellow participants. I just did my first one and preparing for my second and it hasn't been bad at all. The in house workshops during residency are much more intense!

Funding: I was lucky to have a little bit of savings (actually a miracle) b/c my husband got this awesome contract job, so he has been working two jobs for about 1.5 years. But otherwise I would have fully financed. I really wanted to do an MFA program right out of undergrad but I really wanted to pay off my undergrad first. There are pros and cons to both but I had to wait 8 years! before I could finally go back to school and it is still a bit of a hardship because you start wracking up more life debt etc etc etc. excuses, excuses, excuses.

Time to Write: I think I spent about 20-25 hours a week between: writing, reading the books we have assigned and for me-a lot of editting b/c I was never consistent with editting my own work. But I have a long drawn out system (the bit of anal in me I guess you could say) of how I get my work done. I work a 40 hr a week job. I make time before work to read a little, I read some during the day and I am really adept at reading bits during commercial breaks :) But I find the best time for me is the weekends to get things done and I do most of my work then.

Ok, I am babbling now, but I am so glad I have decided to do this for myself!

Jessie :)


Oh-and Queens is $5400 a semester at this time for 4 semesters and then $1500 for your 5th residency semester when you present your thesis and your graduating seminar.


http://jessiecarty.com


darredet
Darren A. Deth


Feb 20, 2007, 5:31 AM

Post #1398 of 2637 (15657 views)
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Re: [Blue-Xela] 2008/09 anyone? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Tom:

In addition to focusing on the writing sample, which is the most crucial element of your application, and reading faculty work, you may want to start looking at the application criteria for each school to determine what needs to be done. Do you need to take your GREs? Are there specific questions or issues that you need to address in your personal statement? How many recommendations do you need? I'm just saying you want to give yourself time to get that information together and not feel rushed at the last minute. It'll help to make the anxiety a little less over getting the applications done.

There is plenty of time for anxiety once the applications have gone in and you have chewed off all your fingers waiting for acceptances or rejections.

Darren


Blue-Xela


Feb 23, 2007, 8:53 PM

Post #1399 of 2637 (15552 views)
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Re: [darredet] 2008/09 anyone? [In reply to] Can't Post

One great thing about the low-res programs I researched is that none of them require GREs, so I get to forego the whole testing shtick. Did all of you decide the GREs weren't necessary since the schools you applied to didn't require them?


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Feb 23, 2007, 10:48 PM

Post #1400 of 2637 (15531 views)
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Re: [Blue-Xela] 2008/09 anyone? [In reply to] Can't Post

I never took the GRE.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

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