Mar 18, 2007, 10:02 AM
Post #1471 of 2683
I'll try to answer these in order. (The post I'm referencing is quoted below.)
Re: [Moonshade] Writing for Children?
[In reply to]
The curriculum at VC is very much tailored to the individual writer (outside the residencies, of course, which are just jam-packed with excellent material for any writer). I'm working on a YA novel, of which I submit about 40 pages (and that can be new work or a mix of revisions and new work) each month. In addition to that, I write two short critical essays on topics of my choosing with the caveat that these should -- as often as possible -- be used to explore areas that speak to my own work or aspects of it I'm trying to improve. These generally come from the reading -- I understand that some advisors make recommendations on books to read, but mine is letting me read what I think I need to. I annotate each book I read that month, with the exception of the ones I'm covering in essays. Depending on who your advisor is, your essays might be longer, etc, but generally I think the approach at VC is to roll with the punches to make sure the writer is getting what they need in order to improve. Each semester's coursework is slightly different, but this is more or less the format for the first two semesters. The last two get into the critical and creative theses.
I haven't had any problem keeping up with the pace. I definitely find that I'm writing more regularly now, and am improving already. My advisor thinks so too, so that's not a delusion. I can't say enough about the quality of the feedback I've been getting (both at the residency in workshop and from my advisor). He is helping me fully realize a very, very strange book.
While I think good writing is good writing, I also believe that children's and YA (what I write) have some major differences that are reflected in the program itself. There is a much greater focus on developing good storytelling skills (this is also a form that generally demands extremely tight writing), I feel, than you might see in an adult program. Also--and this was a HUGE thing when I was deciding whether to do the program--you just don't encounter the genre prejudices in children's writing that you do in writing for adults. There is an underlying recognition that any type of work can have literary value, and that, in fact, fantasy and/or nonrealistic writing is extremely hard to write well and requires a special set of skills.
Honestly, I didn't look at any other programs (except Hamline), because I knew this was really the only program I was interested in, for the reasons above and because of the positive experiences of so many people in it. A big selling point was also seeing people who'd been through the program publishing all over the place. That says something about the level of instruction writers are getting at the program.
What's the curriculum like? Are you able to keep with the demands of 25-30 hours a week reading/writing? Since you started in January, do you already see a marked improvement in your writing? Is your writing productivity up, down or the same since you started the program? Has your understanding of the needs of Children's/YA lit increased (and is now indicated in your work)?
And THANK YOU, for taking the time to post, I'm hungry for info on MFA Children/YA Programs. If I go for an Low-Res. MFA, I'm not sure whether to apply for the standard or Children/YA. I assume they're same, except one focuses on children's lit, but I'm not sure.