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peggy24
Peggy Duffy

Dec 15, 2003, 6:49 AM

Post #326 of 374 (4435 views)
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Finished the MFA? What now? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi all, Back to pay rates for adjuncts. At Northern Virginia Community
College, outside Washington DC, I made a lowly $550 a credit hour. I
taught 3 credit composition classes, 3 credit creative writing classes
(the most fun), and 5 credit preparation for college writing classes.
Did this for two and a half years, but teaching is not my gig. I loved
creative writing, and enjoyed the prep classes because students were
the most motivated and I didn't have to grade. I disliked grading
papers for composition. In creative writing, I graded doing the
assigned work, class participation & attendance, making it clear that
reaction to a piece is subjective and therefore, I would not grade it.
Students expect to be graded in composition. Also found it very time
consuming and not conducive to my own creative work. I did apply to
George Mason, where I believe the pay was double that, but again they
wanted me to start out teaching composition which I no longer wanted
to do. Also burnt out on community college politics. Working now
full-time in a real estate office doing contract administration and
marketing type writing. Leaves less time to write than I'd like, but
also is fulfilling and much better paying. My experience only, Peggy


FlamingSky
Skye Blaine

Dec 23, 2003, 10:23 PM

Post #327 of 374 (4435 views)
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Finished the MFA? What now? [In reply to] Can't Post

I just graduated Sunday from Antioch's low res MFA program. I am
experiencing the same process that Jane is going through, although I
am decades older. I plan to fan my home-based business alive again--
it is desktop publishing and AutoCAD drafting--with the hopes of
working four hours a day and writing three. In reverse order. I also
have written a contract for myself for my writing and submissions for
the next six months. Skye


elli
Ellen Meeropol

e-mail user

Dec 24, 2003, 9:00 AM

Post #328 of 374 (4435 views)
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Finished the MFA? What now? [In reply to] Can't Post

Congratulations, Skye! I start my low-res program at Stonecoast this
Sunday, and am very excited, nervous etc. Thanks for all the
suggestions and comments offered by you folks who have been there.
Elli


FlamingSky
Skye Blaine

Dec 24, 2003, 10:12 PM

Post #329 of 374 (4435 views)
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Finished the MFA? What now? [In reply to] Can't Post

Ellen, Take herbs to keep yourself healthy! So many people arrive run
down. Half the place was sick this December, but with Echinacea,
Oregon Grape Root and Elderberry elixer, I stayed healthy the whole
way through. I also became a careful handwasher, and actually opened
the door with the paper towel, then dropped it in the basket. And no,
I am not obsessive-compulsive. Highly motivated. If I had gotten
sick, and not been able to teach and do my public reading, I could not
have graduated and would have had to wait another six months.


gmku
Gary Kuhlman


Dec 26, 2003, 11:26 AM

Post #330 of 374 (4435 views)
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Finished the MFA? What now? [In reply to] Can't Post

Yeah, man, herbs.... Definitely cool.... Pass it over, man.


thirtytwo


Jan 13, 2004, 4:28 PM

Post #331 of 374 (4435 views)
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Finished the MFA? What now? [In reply to] Can't Post

Wow, admissions consulting. I never knew. Peggy, that's good to know
about NoVACC. They are kind of far away anyway, but I had considered
teaching there. :)


morescotch


May 12, 2004, 1:52 PM

Post #332 of 374 (4435 views)
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Finished the MFA? What now? [In reply to] Can't Post

So, I'm going to start a mfa program in poetry in the fall, do you all
have any advice on preparing before the program starts. I have these
random chunks of time and I'd like to do something useful with them.
-sam


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

May 12, 2004, 4:49 PM

Post #333 of 374 (4435 views)
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Finished the MFA? What now? [In reply to] Can't Post

You're going to Columbia, right? It could take you from now until fall
to find an affordable apartment in NYC. Study the subway maps. Think
about what you hope to get out of the program, and about what your
poetry needs to move up to the next level. dmh


cmitc3


May 12, 2004, 10:28 PM

Post #334 of 374 (4435 views)
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Finished the MFA? What now? [In reply to] Can't Post

David offered some excellent advice. I would add to go in humble,
pliable, and fearless. Exercise discretion and wisdom. You will be
given many paths to choose, take the one best for your art, and take
your time finding it.


franz

e-mail user

Jan 25, 2007, 10:35 AM

Post #335 of 374 (4536 views)
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Re: [mingram] Hmm... [In reply to] Can't Post

This isn't particularly relevant for this thread, so I apologize, but I have a question for Mike. Having graduated from Iowa now with your MFA, what has been your experience with finding teaching jobs?
I'm a first year at Hopkins and I'm already beginning to think about that. Of course I know a publishing record is the thing but I'm curious about real life experiences directly after finishing the MFA.


Franz Knupfer, author of short stories and novels


mingram
Mike Ingram

Jan 25, 2007, 4:54 PM

Post #336 of 374 (4459 views)
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Re: [franz] Hmm... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
This isn't particularly relevant for this thread, so I apologize, but I have a question for Mike. Having graduated from Iowa now with your MFA, what has been your experience with finding teaching jobs?
I'm a first year at Hopkins and I'm already beginning to think about that. Of course I know a publishing record is the thing but I'm curious about real life experiences directly after finishing the MFA.
Well, there seems to be no shortage of adjunct work, but you can decide for yourself if that's any great shakes. I really enjoy being in the classroom, and tell myself it's good experience, but the pay is lousy and there are no benefits. Right now I'm teaching a comp. class and a fiction workshop; last semester I also taught business writing.

I also do some freelance journalism (a carryover from my pre-MFA life) so that helps pay the bills. I'm happy that I'm avoiding full-time office work, and making time to write. But without the freelance work, I don't think I could live on adjunct money, unless I did what some do and teach a whole bunch of classes each semester (I know a guy who's doing 6, which seems insane to me).


franz

e-mail user

Jan 25, 2007, 6:17 PM

Post #337 of 374 (4421 views)
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Re: [mingram] Hmm... [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks Mike. I'm expecting a hard dose of adjunct reality myself. Are you still in the Iowa City area? I'm from there myself. Good luck with getting your work out.
I love teaching myself, but right now I'm pretty spoiled with the Hopkins kids. They're leaping over each other to get their A's, so the future may bring me a wake-up call in this regard as well.


Franz Knupfer, author of short stories and novels


mingram
Mike Ingram

Jan 26, 2007, 3:37 PM

Post #338 of 374 (4312 views)
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Re: [franz] Hmm... [In reply to] Can't Post

I've actually moved to Philadelphia. So maybe there are only a lot of available adjunct jobs because it's a city with a lot of colleges. Not sure what it would be like elsewhere.


muttonfish


Jan 29, 2007, 12:42 PM

Post #339 of 374 (4212 views)
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Editorial/writing [In reply to] Can't Post

I am waiting to hear from MFA programs and cannot help but to wonder how things might turn out later on. Landing the great teaching job is the ideal situation, but the prospect is bleak without a stellar CV and publication history. So for all the mfa grads who are searching for employment, what about the editorial / copywrite / technical writing positions? Have any of you applied to these positions and found success? After a quick browse, it appears that such positions require the skills most post-mfaer's garner during the program, namely the advanced degree, (possibly) 2-3 years experience in magazine publication/editing, great communication/oral skills, etc. Yes, such a position may be a bit of a skew from the original objective but it pays the bills (and much better the adjunct positions) and it's full-time, and you can make a comfortable life out of it while continuing to write. I worked for the university paper during undergrad, wrote some columns and proofread, and the experience wasn't bad. Just wanted to hear other's experiences and opinions on this type of work.


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Jan 29, 2007, 1:19 PM

Post #340 of 374 (4195 views)
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Re: [muttonfish] Editorial/writing [In reply to] Can't Post

I gave up the editorial track to go for the MFA, so I've got an inverse perspective on that. But when I was interviewing people for entry-level editorial jobs, I was not too concerned with what degrees they had or didn't have.

On the other hand, you sound as though you won't want an entry-level job, and an MFA won't help you skip over that. Most MFA programs won't tell you anything about copywriting or grammar or magazine writing/editing. The publishing world doesn't want artists; it needs people who can do specialized work on a deadline.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

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

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


wilmabluekitty
Wilma Weant Dague

Jan 29, 2007, 8:24 PM

Post #341 of 374 (4135 views)
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Re: [pongo] Editorial/writing [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I gave up the editorial track to go for the MFA, so I've got an inverse perspective on that. But when I was interviewing people for entry-level editorial jobs, I was not too concerned with what degrees they had or didn't have.

On the other hand, you sound as though you won't want an entry-level job, and an MFA won't help you skip over that. Most MFA programs won't tell you anything about copywriting or grammar or magazine writing/editing. The publishing world doesn't want artists; it needs people who can do specialized work on a deadline.



and I gave up the m.f.a. partially because I had a nice gig as a proofreader/copy editor. It was the most congenial job I ever had--surrounded in "the nursery" by bright quick minds. But post m.f.a. nah. Maybe in a bigger place like New York. I can't see it being worth it anywhere else. It takes the same kind of psychic energy that writng does. I'd sooner work in a factory--but good luck finding a factory job these days..


silkfx2004


Jan 31, 2007, 8:10 AM

Post #342 of 374 (4064 views)
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Re: [wilmabluekitty] Editorial/writing [In reply to] Can't Post

And I (purportedly) left behind a career in technical writing to get an MFA. :)

However, having taught the equivalent of college comp for three out of my four semesters at Iowa (hi Mike), I'm a little soured on teaching anything other than creative writing. I realize that I have a better shot at a creative writing position if I publish something halfway decent. So after graduation, barring any fellowship windfalls, I'm probably going to stay in Iowa City, get some kind of part-time work, cut costs where I can, and just concentrate as much free time as possible on writing, polishing, and submitting stories. I'm not ruling out contract technical writing, which would probably pay the most given my experience; ideally I'll be able to do it remotely from here.

What's funny to me now is that I had a completely different mindset going into the MFA than I do coming out. Going in, it was largely about the degree and getting something publishable out in two years. Coming out, and looking back, I now see it was about the process of becoming a better writer and reader. Plenty of people told me that on this board, but it didn't really sink in until I got here. :) Some might question whether it's necessary to give up your past life to spend 2+ years in an MFA program. For me personally, this was the best thing I could have done for myself as a writer. I feel like I've been given a significant leg up in terms of confidence if nothing else. (For clarity: It has much less to do with being at Iowa than it does with being in a place where I was allowed to develop my skills, with few distractions, in a supportive environment.)

ETA: These articles, aside from making me giggle and groan in sympathy, are also making me reconsider teaching adjunct:

http://www.mcsweeneys.net/links/adjunctfaculty/


--------
Nobody but God gets it right the first time. Everybody else has to rewrite. --attributed to Stephen King

(This post was edited by silkfx2004 on Jan 31, 2007, 10:40 AM)


mingram
Mike Ingram

Jan 31, 2007, 12:20 PM

Post #343 of 374 (4006 views)
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Re: [silkfx2004] Editorial/writing [In reply to] Can't Post

I would agree with Silkfx (hi!) that the real value is in the process. I don't think I realized that either until I was just about finished with the degree. I do think a third year would be great in a lot of ways -- at that point, I think you've started to internalize a lot of what you've learned in a way that's evident in your writing. I feel like I'm writing MUCH better stuff now than I was two years ago. Then again, if I'd had a third year, I'd probably now be whining that I wanted a fourth.

I think one thing an MFA can do is build up the habits of writing, and also function as a kind of experiment: if I give myself over completely to my work for two (or 3) years, what will happen?

Then, post-MFA, you a) decide whether it's a committment you want to continue, and b) how to arrange your life to keep those habits intact.

Which is easier said than done, of course, though I've found adjuncting + freelance work to be a pretty good combination.


sovietsleepover


Oct 15, 2007, 12:54 AM

Post #344 of 374 (3800 views)
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Editorial/writing [In reply to] Can't Post

Not to backtrack (I'm sure this has been addressed somewhere in the depths of this thread!), but what CC teaching prospects are available to someone with no college-level teaching experience? I'll be finishing my MFA at the Michener Center at UT Austin, a program that funds all accepted students with no teaching responsibilities. I know the program carries increasing cred within the insular world of writers, but I suspect that cred doesn't carry over to university/community college hiring committees.

My own minimal teaching experience consists of a year of teaching EFL to Japanese high school students, and teaching computer literacy courses to students of all levels at an urban public library (i.e. though I have experience in a classroom setting, and working with students of differing abilities & non-native English speakers, there's very little practical carryover to freshman comp). Without many publications (no first book, no prizes that put me on the map, though a small handful of decent publications), is it realistic for me to hope I have a chance of getting interviews? Interviews that pan out?

(For what it's worth, I'm primarily considering universities and community colleges in Hawaii, particularly in Hilo. I realize that, with my experience, my chances are slim to none, but if anyone has special insight re: Hilo, or adjuncting jobs in Hawaii in general, I'd love to hear it!)


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Oct 15, 2007, 10:21 AM

Post #345 of 374 (3777 views)
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Re: [sovietsleepover] Editorial/writing [In reply to] Can't Post

Your CC teaching prospects depend as much on the number of schools in your area and the pool of possible teachers as your lack of experience. When I graduated with my MFA and started looking for work, I could have had about nine classes at five different schools. I accepted, among others, two courses at the CC, and I had no formal teaching experience at all, beyond my practicum.

I have no idea what the market is like in Hilo, but that is in fact the most relevant problem.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

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

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
e-mail user

Oct 15, 2007, 11:01 AM

Post #346 of 374 (3768 views)
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Re: [pongo] Editorial/writing [In reply to] Can't Post

For what it's worth, Allison Joseph offers a subscription service (free) of job openings, contests, and calls for submission. The list is archived at a Yahoo Groups site called CRWROPPS-b (Creative Writing Opportunities). You have to join Yahoo Groups to read the list or receive the emails, and the list isn't sorted by category, so it takes some searching. However, I must receive at least two post-MFA job announcements every day--everything from adjunct to one-month workshop leaders to writer-in-residence. The pay ranges from pretty good to not so great. :)

To learn more about Allison Joseph's list, go here:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/crwropps-b/

Be sure to register as a member of Yahoo Groups, though, or you can't access the list. Yahoo groups and Allison's site are both free.

Jeanne


http://www.jeannelyetgassman.com
http://jeannelyetgassman.blogspot.com


libbyagain


Oct 15, 2007, 11:20 AM

Post #347 of 374 (3765 views)
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Re: [sovietsleepover] Editorial/writing [In reply to] Can't Post

Hiring in my husband's area, comm. arts, has been flush in Hawaii for several years. Often, though not always, English lit./writing and comm arts follow similar hiring trajectories. Fwiw.

Having served on many cc hiring committees, and having seen many non-traditional (i.e., not the various doctorates we favor) candidates that have looked extremely interesting, I'd strongly advise this: write to their advertisement, cover ALL its bases, and figure out how to live up to each and every credential they desire, even if it's "creatively." If they're interested, then they need a reason to be ABLE to bring you in for an interview--and thus you have to give them material to point to. Without outright lying, make THE very best you can of whatever teaching experience you do have. Also, explain to them, though not snottily, the Michener credential. It's a rhetorical enterprise you're about. If you understand that your audience is eager, intrigued by varying p'sov, willing, AND TOTALLY CONSTRAINED BUREAUCRATICALLY, you will understand your audience. Respond to the advertisement. Respond to it like 'twere holy text of your most-revered ideology. Hit ALL its bullet points with some kind of bullet. Give them a reason to call you in. . . then make sure your persona and your teaching demonstration are incredibly good.

I speak of f-t positions above, btw. Adjuncting . . . well, it's not nearly so stringent.

Best luck.


edwriter



Oct 15, 2007, 7:21 PM

Post #348 of 374 (3719 views)
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Re: [libbyagain] Editorial/writing [In reply to] Can't Post

Oh, so much to say! But first I have to wonder aloud: Why was this thread buried so deep in the bowels of this part of the Forum? There seems to be a consensus that career advising in MFA programs is uneven at best--this thread could be very helpful to a lot of people.

I'm going to start with a set of relevant links:
My post on another thread about non-teaching university jobs for writers;
A recent discussion on the MFA Weblog;
Academic360.com: (free access) Helpful not just for links to employment offices, but also if you want to compile lists of colleges/universities to contact for adjunct positions within a given geographical area);
HigherEdJobs.com: (free access) This is where I saw the posting that led me to my current job;
Chronicle Careers: (free access) Some overlap w/HigherEdJobs.com, but also offers good articles/features on jobs in (and, occasionally, outside) academe. NOTE: Each summer they advertise for (paid) diarists to chronicle their job searches over the following year. Look out for that, if it interests you (you can do this pseudonymously);
Idealist.org: (free access) Limit your search to "editing and writing" jobs;
MediaBistro.com: (free access, but requires registration to view complete job listings) Good source for jobs in publishing/editing.

AWP JobList listings and the MLA Job Information List are also good, but you need to be a paid subscriber to access them. (I receive the former with my AWP membership; I no longer subscribe to the latter.)

Finally, every Monday I post a list of "Markets/Jobs/Opportunities" on my blog. Today's post included eight non-teaching jobs for writers at colleges/universities; nine teaching jobs; and four (I think) freelance opportunities, plus one paying internship (that one's in Canada).

And check back--I'm inspired to work up a nice blog post on the many fellowships MFA grads might choose to pursue, and I'll post that link once it's live. May take a few days.

Best,
Erika D.


Quiet Americans: Stories
http://www.erikadreifus.com



edwriter



Oct 15, 2007, 7:34 PM

Post #349 of 374 (3714 views)
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Re: [mingram] Editorial/writing [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I think one thing an MFA can do is build up the habits of writing, and also function as a kind of experiment: if I give myself over completely to my work for two (or 3) years, what will happen?

Then, post-MFA, you a) decide whether it's a committment you want to continue, and b) how to arrange your life to keep those habits intact.

Which is easier said than done, of course, though I've found adjuncting + freelance work to be a pretty good combination.


I agree with most of this. But I think people need to understand that adjuncting and freelancing, while definitely having their high points (you're still essentially in control of your own schedule, you can choose work that really interests you, etc.) isn't going to be a good combination for everyone. It worked pretty well for me for awhile, but here are a few things to think about:

1) If you aren't going to be insured through someone else's policy, you need to think about your own insurance situation. Most adjuncting/freelance jobs do not provide benefits (insurance, paid vacation, retirement plan). Yes, you may be able to find something through a group plan accessible to you through a professional association for writers, but it's still something to keep in mind.
2) Freelance paychecks are irregular. Make sure you have some savings on hand, at all times.
3) Freelance paychecks also don't take taxes into account. You'll have to track this.
4) It can be easier to make a living freelancing/adjuncting in some (less expensive) parts of the country than it is in others.
5) Think about "freelancing" broadly. I wish, now, that I'd tried to get into some more lucrative segments of the field (corporate communications, for instance) rather than stubbornly sticking to (lower-paying) magazines, newspapers, and Web sites.

Hope that helps those considering their options.

Best,
Erika


Quiet Americans: Stories
http://www.erikadreifus.com



mingram
Mike Ingram

Oct 15, 2007, 8:03 PM

Post #350 of 374 (3707 views)
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Re: [edwriter] Editorial/writing [In reply to] Can't Post

I should clarify that i was perhaps in a unique position when it came to freelancing, and also kind of lucked out. in my previous life, I worked as an editor for some trade publications, so I had experience covering particular industries (and relationships with former bosses) that led to some work. I shouldn't imply that getting that work had anything to do with my MFA.

As for adjuncting, it pretty much sucks, though it does build some experience -- i got to teach a variety of classes, and it ended up netting me a full-time job, though that was partly a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Also, the pay for adjuncting is shockingly lousy, which means that if you wanted to make your living from it, you'd need to teach a bunch of classes each semester (a friend of mine did 6), which then kinda negates that whole "time to write" thing. Though said friend also has a full-time job now, so it worked out for him.

Frankly -- and this will probably sound surly, but it's been a long Monday, and I'm tired -- once you graduate from your MFA program you'll suddenly realize how many of your classmates have some kind of trust fund, or else generous parents. I was pretty surprised. All of a sudden some of the same people who were always playing the "poor unwashed poet" role in grad school were taking a year abroad to see the Continent or moving into New York or L.A. lofts despite no particular employment plans. But, such is life.

Maybe the best plan is to marry rich. Wealthy people need love too :)

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