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bighark


Dec 11, 2009, 7:43 PM

Post #276 of 333 (8875 views)
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Re: [taraberyl] uh ohs [In reply to] Can't Post

Non issue. Don't worry about it.


taraberyl



Dec 12, 2009, 12:42 AM

Post #277 of 333 (8851 views)
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Re: [bighark] uh ohs [In reply to] Can't Post

thanks guys!
fooof.


Lux


Dec 19, 2009, 10:31 PM

Post #278 of 333 (8717 views)
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Phone calls? [In reply to] Can't Post

Just curious: do grad schools have a tendency to call the people who wrote your rec letters? Letters all tend to say 'for more info call me' and I'm wondering if this actually happens.


kbritten

e-mail user

May 26, 2010, 10:13 PM

Post #279 of 333 (7243 views)
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Recs [In reply to] Can't Post

Okay, don't laugh at me, but I'm already preparing for next year. My letters of recommendation were weak last year, and this year I'd like to make them more of a strength. I have several concerns:

  • I've heard many people say that factor in very minimally, I've heard others say things like "be sure to get at least one former professor," etc, inferring that they do indeed mean something.
  • I don't want to go to my old profs. Many of them are no longer there and I don't feel comfortable asking the ones who are (it's a lot work, I wasn't very socially active in my department, my degree was in philosophy, etc).
  • I have one recommender that knows my writing well and I want to keep her, but other than that, I don't really know where to turn. I don't want to join a writer's group (I'm not the bra-less, thick-framed glasses wearing, flea market shaw covering type. Not that there's anything wrong with that "type," it's just not me, and I'm worried that I couldn't get a rec from anyone in those groups because, well, I don't think I'd fit in), I can't seem to enroll in a local class (not offered anywhere), I tried to audit a "real" course at a university, but didn't register in time and the classes were already full. I don't think I can recommendations there.
  • So, I'd like to ask the school counselor at the school I work for. She can't attest to my writing, but she can for my teaching/work ethic/etc. I'd also like to ask another teacher I work with in the English department. She doesn't know my writing, but she could also attest to my work ethic/teaching/etc. Is that kosher?!?!?! Will that be acceptable most everywhere?
I would also like to know if anyone has been accepted with less than notable recommenders, like colleagues. I'm really not an anti-social person, just when it comes to my writing. It's actually a bad thing, since success in this field comes from networking, but it makes me uncomfortable, and I do a lot of cynical eye-rolling.

I guess the last part of this long post is that I would like to know about writer's groups, workshops, retreats, etc... are they time-wasters? Has anyone received recs from them? I can't afford the expensive ones (>$300 all-inclusive), but I guess I'm open to a good one. I just don't want to join a social group; I want to read, discuss, critique, workshops, etc... I mean business, people! >:D

Fin.

Oh, I'm in the Tampa, FL area by the way.

Fin.


(This post was edited by kbritten on May 26, 2010, 10:16 PM)


silkentent
Margaret DeAngelis

e-mail user

May 26, 2010, 10:23 PM

Post #280 of 333 (7238 views)
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Re: [kbritten] Recs [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
  • . . . I don't want to join a writer's group (I'm not the bra-less, thick-framed glasses wearing, flea market shaw covering type.


WHAT??


Quote

I would also like to know if anyone has been accepted with less than notable recommenders, like colleagues. I'm really not an anti-social person, just when it comes to my writing



I fret and obsess over recommendations, too. My first master's degree is 35 years old now, my second one 15. Most of my professors, who weren't writing teachers anyway, are not just retired, they're dead. I've been granted two residencies that required letters. One of the letters was written by a 25-year-old journalist who really does know my writing well. He uses his newspaper's letterhead.

-- Margaret, who always wear her thick-framed glasses and her bra, but gave up shawls in the 1970s.



Margaret DeAngelis
Markings: Days of Her Life
http://www.silkentent.com/Trees


alamana
Jennifer Brown


May 26, 2010, 10:28 PM

Post #281 of 333 (7237 views)
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Re: [kbritten] Recs [In reply to] Can't Post

What on earth makes you think writers’ groups are full of “the bra-less, thick-framed glasses wearing, flea market shawl covering type”?

For whatever it is worth, I’m in a program now and I didn’t have any recommendations from professors because I’d been out of school for over 10 years. One recommendation was from the leader of one of my writing groups (everyone wore their bras, except for the men, and no one wore shawls), and the other two recommendations were from writing teachers I had for online classes with Gotham Writers’ Workshop.


Be regular and orderly in your life, that you may be violent and original in your work. -- Flaubert

http://www.jenniferkirkpatrickbrown.com


bighark


May 27, 2010, 1:21 AM

Post #282 of 333 (7217 views)
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Re: [kbritten] Recs [In reply to] Can't Post

I got in with "less notable" recommenders. I used a former (non writing) professor, a coworker, and a minor playwright.


abcd

e-mail user

May 27, 2010, 1:25 AM

Post #283 of 333 (7215 views)
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Re: [bighark] Recs [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd also recommend Stanford's online writing courses (cheaper than face-to-face courses at the state school here in Washington) taught by former Stenger fellows and online writing courses through UCLA extension. Both could improve both your writing sample AND your rec letter. Good luck!


kbritten

e-mail user

May 27, 2010, 10:12 AM

Post #284 of 333 (7178 views)
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Re: [abcd] Recs [In reply to] Can't Post

Is it normal to get a recommendation from an online writing course? I didn't know that was done. Also, are there any other good online courses that are cheaper than Stanford's? $750 is the cost of one month's rent for me :)


abcd

e-mail user

May 27, 2010, 10:20 AM

Post #285 of 333 (7174 views)
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Re: [kbritten] Recs [In reply to] Can't Post

The UCLA extension classes are about 500 and you can get grad credit for them. State school tuition for a class will run you 1000-1500 per class, so for me this is an investment and a bargain. (My rent is 475 so the class is more than a month's rent for me--but would be worth it.) Also, the profs are legit with well-regarded books, publications, etc--so I don't see why their rec would not count, especially if you also have recs from people who know you from face-to-face interaction, too.

I just saw that you can peruse the UCLA summer courses for free, like a 4 day open house (with enrollment discounts if you sign up for a course) beginning June 1. Here is the link: https://www.uclaextension.edu/r/Course.aspx?reg=V5504


alamana
Jennifer Brown


May 27, 2010, 11:33 AM

Post #286 of 333 (7163 views)
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Re: [kbritten] Recs [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't know if it's "normal" or not to get a recommendation from an online writing course, but one of my Gotham teachers offered to do it before I even asked and I'll be forever grateful to her for it. The other Gotham teacher I asked was happy to do it and wrote a great recommendation for me that focused on my detailed critiques of student work and dedication to writing.

Gotham online courses will run you a little less in cost than the university run online classes, but I admit they can be a little hit or miss quality-wise (the teachers are almost always good, but the students aren't always great or even dedicated enough to continue giving critiques once you are halfway through the class). Another option is online classes through The Writer's Center in Bethesda, Maryland. I think Bob Bausch teaches online classes for them, and he is both a fantastic teacher and famous writer.


Be regular and orderly in your life, that you may be violent and original in your work. -- Flaubert

http://www.jenniferkirkpatrickbrown.com


kbritten

e-mail user

May 27, 2010, 11:59 AM

Post #287 of 333 (7153 views)
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Re: [alamana] Recs [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks! And I was joking about the bra-less, shawl-wearing folk ;) But I am glad to hear that Margaret gave up the shawl!


ookfish


May 30, 2010, 6:21 PM

Post #288 of 333 (6985 views)
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Re: [kbritten] Recs [In reply to] Can't Post

It's all about your writing sample. Sure, someone who gets a letter of rec from John Ashberry, or George Garrett, or (fill in name of rockstar writer) will perhaps get a closer look at their writing, or a second glance/conversation within the dept. about them, but it's all about what you've got on the page. I've known people that had stellar recs and mediocre samples that became real frustrated -- and vice-versa, people who had fair recs, and knock-out samples that got into some great places. In this next year, A) write your a$$ off, B) show your writing to those folks you mention in your post who don't know your writing, and C) burn plenty of spirit money.


kbritten

e-mail user

May 31, 2010, 10:00 AM

Post #289 of 333 (6933 views)
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Re: [ookfish] Recs [In reply to] Can't Post

So, is everyone in consensus that recommendations from colleagues are not going to hurt me? I'm aware that they won't help me, but so long as they lessen my chances, I'll use 'em.


alamana
Jennifer Brown


May 31, 2010, 10:59 AM

Post #290 of 333 (6925 views)
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Re: [kbritten] Recs [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think they will hurt you.

I think they could help you, if they speak to how hard you work, how well you work in a team--that kind of thing. Working well with others is big. You don't want to end up with people who will act crazy/mean/etc in workshop--and an employer/colleague recommendation can speak to how well you play with others. If you are thoughtful and respectful and easy to get along with at work, you probably will be in workshop, too.


Be regular and orderly in your life, that you may be violent and original in your work. -- Flaubert

http://www.jenniferkirkpatrickbrown.com


nine


Jul 23, 2010, 1:12 PM

Post #291 of 333 (5754 views)
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Re: Recs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hello. Would it be completely inappropriate to have family members write rec letters? There are no professors I've kept in touch with, no former employers that would even remember me, and I have no friends.


ericweinstein
Eric Weinstein


Jul 23, 2010, 1:44 PM

Post #292 of 333 (5749 views)
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Re: [nine] Recs [In reply to] Can't Post

You'll need three letters for most schools. Three letters from family members would be inappropriate, yes.


Hans Landa: You'll be shot for this!
Aldo Raine: Nah, I don't think so. More like chewed out. I've been chewed out before.


bighark


Jul 23, 2010, 2:48 PM

Post #293 of 333 (5742 views)
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Re: [nine] Recs [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, it's completely inappropriate. Wipe the idea from your mind. Even if your family member is a Big Deal Writer, you need to find somebody else.

Fix your professor problem by sending a letter or email that reintroduces yourself. Remind the person of how you know each other, and summarize what you'e been up to since you last spoke.

Dear Professor Jones, I was in your X class at University of Y a few years ago. After graduating, I worked a few years doing Z, but I also maintained a writing practice. In fact, I'm applying to MFA programs in fiction/poetry this fall, and I was wondering if you'd be willing to write me a letter of recommendation.

If you have published work you want to share, let them know how to find it. Make it easy for them to write on your behalf.

If it's easy to get to where they are, consider inviting them to a cup of coffee to catch up. If that's not possible, no big deal. The point is, you've grown since you were an undergrad, and part of that growth includes a new desire to pursue graduate study--something with which a professor can relate.

Good luck


elissa
Elissa Field


Jul 23, 2010, 3:23 PM

Post #294 of 333 (5737 views)
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Re: [bighark] Recs [In reply to] Can't Post

I've had to do what bighark is saying on 2 occasions -- both times felt like a dork doing it (even having had great relationships with the profs while is school, I went to a huge univ, hadn't kept in touch (who does?) and it had been several years) but in both cases the profs were completely unsurprised and comfortable trading whatever info was necessary (I gave resumes and for one a writing sample) so they could comment appropriately. It's not as a big a deal as it seems.


http://elissafield.wordpress.com/
http://www.facebook.com/...p?id=100001772022683


kbritten

e-mail user

Jul 23, 2010, 3:50 PM

Post #295 of 333 (5732 views)
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Re: [nine] Recs [In reply to] Can't Post

Nine, I'm still frustrated at my pitiful recommendation prospects and I totally understand where you're coming from. I would feel so, so, so, so very uncomfortable asking an old professor to complete 12-14 letters for me considering I've been away from school for almost four years now, I also wasn't very social in my department, and I majored in something almost as non-practical as CW, philosophy! I applied to graduate school a year after graduating (yes, one year) and had a disastrous time trying to get three letters. One professor was very enthusiastic and did remember me (I did independent study with him and he liked me :) ), but the other two barely remembered me, forgot to send the letters in (even after I reminded them three times), and took months after the deadline to actually complete them. I didn't attend GS after that (for personal reasons, I'm ready now), but I will not approach any of my old professors, even the guy who was enthusiastic. I just don't want to bother him! I don't want to make him stuff so many letters in envelopes and send them back to me so that I can send them out. He's also a little scatter-brained.

That being said, I'm seriously contemplating just asking him and seeing what he says. What's the worse that can happen? I doubt he's going to put some kind of academic hex on me that will permanently prevent me from ever gaining acceptance into a graduate program. I doubt he will burst out laughing at my request and communicate this to me through capital-lettered LOL's. I'm going to be honest with him and tell him how much work it's going to be and give him plenty of time to decline and send him a thorough packet with detailed information.

Who am I kidding, I'll still probably chicken out!! It's funny, for some reason I don't mind making my busy colleagues stuff a bunch of envelopes, but my old professors, NEVER! I think it's because I'm more familiar with my colleagues. My advice is as follows:

--Take an online course if you can afford it and ask for a letter. UCLA is offering an MFA prep course in October, but yes, it costs $525 and starts in October, which is when you want to start asking for a recommendation.
--Take a creative course locally at a community college or a big university. You can audit the course if you don't want credit for it and don't want to pay. Ask the professor for a recommendation.
--Join a writer's group, but ohhhhhh beware. I just attended a first meeting at one last weekend and was EMBARRASSED by the quality of writing and critiquing (they had a five minute conversation on whether a cat can be referred to as "bullheaded." Swear to Jebus. Who the F cares?). I'm sure not all of them are bad, just shop around if you have that luxury.
--Get a job (easier said than done, eh?), volunteer, etc... do a good job and ask one of them.

Other than that, I'm in need of a letter of recommendation as well. Maybe we could swap stories for a couple of months and write one for each other. Just promise me you're not a homicidal maniac, because I have a reputation to keep and I don't want you sullying my good name ;)


bighark


Jul 23, 2010, 4:33 PM

Post #296 of 333 (5726 views)
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Re: [kbritten] Recs [In reply to] Can't Post

kbritten, if you're truly worried about the volume of letter stuffing, use a dossier service like Interfolio (or one that may be managed through your university) where your letter writer only has to write and send one letter.

What happens to that letter after it's written is then managed by you and the service instead of the scatter-brained prof.


kbritten

e-mail user

Jul 23, 2010, 4:46 PM

Post #297 of 333 (5721 views)
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Re: [bighark] Recs [In reply to] Can't Post

Yeah, I've really thought about it. I just have money spending issues (except when it comes to clothing, I love to shop). It's really though for me to justify the $20 fee, plus the fees for sending the letters. I calculated it and it could be an additional $100 to use it (Interfolio, at least). Ugh, decisions: neurosis or money? As if I'm not spending enough on this stupid thing already!


patrickdunn


Jul 28, 2010, 2:54 PM

Post #298 of 333 (5648 views)
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Re: [kbritten] Recs [In reply to] Can't Post

kbritten:

Where did you see info on the MFA prep course at UCLA? Is it in the Fall Extension Catalog? I'm in an Intro to Fiction class through the Extension Program there now that is pretty great and would like to take another course if I can find the money (big if). Is it online only?

Honestly, I think getting the letters of rec. is the most daunting part of applying to MFA programs to me. I'm not 100% sure if I'll be applying, although I feel like I'm getting closer and closer everyday.


kbritten

e-mail user

Jul 28, 2010, 8:47 PM

Post #299 of 333 (5617 views)
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Re: [patrickdunn] Recs [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, it's in the Fall catalog, but it's really buried. I think it's towards the end, if I remember correctly, and I had to scan the thing a couple times to get there. But, it is there.

I hope you do end up applying! It'll be fun! That was sarcastic, but the whole thing is kind of fun. I don't know why...


napk132


Jul 29, 2010, 1:21 PM

Post #300 of 333 (5586 views)
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Re: [kbritten] Recs [In reply to] Can't Post

Great thread. You've all given me the courage to contact a former professor. I had two recommenders all ready, but I was a little anxious about the third. I'm somewhat ashamed of my undergraduate attempts at fiction, so I hesitated asking any of my undergrad writing professors, but I finally sucked it up, typed out the email, and sent it off.

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