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kbritten

e-mail user

Nov 2, 2009, 8:06 PM

Post #251 of 329 (7608 views)
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Re: [BLUECHEESE] Different Purpose Statement Question [In reply to] Can't Post

You just made me think of South Park... per se...


OldScribe2000


Nov 3, 2009, 5:36 PM

Post #252 of 329 (7538 views)
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Re: [KrisB] Different Purpose Statement Question [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm sending my applications out in two waves: one batch on November 16th, and a second on November 30th.

I don't know how you're doing with your letters of recommendation, your GRE test, or your writing sample so it's hard to say if you're way behind or not.

But I would definitely get it in gear. There's a reason why I set my personal deadlines so far ahead of the program deadlines...










While I know it's super to mention one's desire in eventual teaching in a personal statement, which I certainly will do, is it wrong to mention something like the desire to work for a literary magazine?

I currently intern at one of the most prominent literary magazines and aspire to one day become a staff member of a lit journal like it. Is this something that application reviewers would be glad about or indifferent to? Though I want to become a successful novelist, I also want to assist other unique writers in getting their voices heard.

I'd appreciate any comments as to whether or not this aspect of my ideal literary career is something I should mention in my personal statement! Thanks so very much.

Also, I'm just beginning my applications now for early January deadlines. I'm hoping to get my applications in before Christmas however. I'm freaking out because it still feels like I'm behind. Am I behind? Or, are most of you other 2010 applicants beginning yours now too? Ahhhhh!



emilychristine
Emily Sims

e-mail user

Nov 3, 2009, 6:20 PM

Post #253 of 329 (7527 views)
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Re: [OldScribe2000] Different Purpose Statement Question [In reply to] Can't Post

I just sent out all of my application packets last week...and now I'm rethinking all of my statements of purpose. I tried to tailor them a bit, but didn't treat them like 'another writing sample,' as someone here recommended. I think they're adequate, but certainly nothing spectacular. What was I thinking???


Our Daily Tales / Travel Tales



katelauren
Kate

Nov 3, 2009, 7:17 PM

Post #254 of 329 (7510 views)
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Re: [emcsims] Different Purpose Statement Question [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm having a "what was I thinking" moment right now too.....I just applied to Cornell and forgot to make my statement of purpose single spaced. I had it set at 1.5 and then realized after I submitted it that they specifically asked for single. Of course the odds that I get into Cornell are slim to none anyway, but now that I can't even follow directions....!?!
Oh well, we shouldn't beat ourselves up too much for things we can't change now. Don't be too hard on yourself, I'm sure your statements are great!


KrisB


Nov 3, 2009, 8:01 PM

Post #255 of 329 (7500 views)
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Re: [katelauren] Different Purpose Statement Question [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, you are all way ahead of me either way. That's for damn sure.


WanderingTree


Nov 3, 2009, 9:47 PM

Post #256 of 329 (7476 views)
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Re: [emcsims] Different Purpose Statement Question [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm just trying not to stress out about applications any more than I need to. We're supposed to be writing right? And yeah, that's tough when your minds racing about all the little things of applying to grad school. I've sent all my packets in and all I can do now is wait, write and try to remain rational. In the scheme of things, I'm guessing the statement of purpose is more of a "double-check" to see if you're an ass/psycho or not. Some programs might put more weight on them but those programs are likely in the minority. A few faculty members have gone on record as saying that they don't even read them. Of course, you should do a good job on them, but I think when it comes to arts oriented programs, it's all going to be about the portfolio and everything else is icing on the cake.

(This post was edited by WanderingTree on Nov 3, 2009, 9:48 PM)


ericweinstein
Eric Weinstein


Nov 9, 2009, 4:50 PM

Post #257 of 329 (7338 views)
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Re: [spamela] Writing for business? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Maybe other people out there who've gone through these [graduate publishing] programs have better things to say about them, but they strike me, from the outside, as rather useless at best, and exploitative at worst.


A bit of a blast from the past, but if anyone is still curious/wondering about this, I agree 100%. (PM me if you have questions.)


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.


WanderingTree


Nov 9, 2009, 5:10 PM

Post #258 of 329 (7330 views)
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Re: [ericweinstein] Writing for business? [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm inclined to agree as well. I mean, a lot of these big wig editors didn't go to any such program. How did they get where they are today? They started from the bottom (sometimes even the very bottom - the mail room) and worked incredibly hard. There are always entry level positions advertised by the likes of Simon and Schuster, Penguin etc. None of them require an advanced degree in publishing.


__________



Nov 9, 2009, 5:39 PM

Post #259 of 329 (7325 views)
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Re: [WanderingTree] Writing for business? [In reply to] Can't Post

Seriously? Big time editing is like Ari Gold's office?


six five four three two one 0 ->


WanderingTree


Nov 9, 2009, 5:45 PM

Post #260 of 329 (7320 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Writing for business? [In reply to] Can't Post

Indeed. Look at old issues of P&W or search online. There have been several interviews with former and current editors of the big publishing houses that tell the tale of climbing the literary corporate ladder. Of course, this was all 20-30 plus years ago. Things are different now and publishing is hardly a booming industry. People are more likely to get laid off than get a promotion.

(This post was edited by WanderingTree on Nov 9, 2009, 5:48 PM)


__________



Nov 9, 2009, 6:31 PM

Post #261 of 329 (7311 views)
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Re: [WanderingTree] Writing for business? [In reply to] Can't Post

I always figured editors had to have some kind of qualification beyond a fratboyish devotion to menial tasks.

Not to insult the mail room, or anything.


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Nov 9, 2009, 6:38 PM)


spamela


Nov 9, 2009, 8:56 PM

Post #262 of 329 (7268 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Writing for business? [In reply to] Can't Post

Oh man, it would (maybe) surprise you how many publishers at big houses started in the sales department. Meaning, they moved up through the ranks on the sales and marketing side of things, but they end up making the important editorial decisions in their imprints. There are many reasons why the big publishing model is hurting literature, and that's one of them. Not that sales and marketing people can't be good readers, but that what is rewarded in the big publishing model is ultimately book sales. Not that this will come as a shock to anyone, I'm sure, but it still shudder-inducing. And now I'm off to write the next Marley and Me.

S


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Nov 9, 2009, 9:06 PM

Post #263 of 329 (7264 views)
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Re: [spamela] Writing for business? [In reply to] Can't Post

Max Perkins started in sales. I was never at his level, but I started as a typist (editorial assistant), which is where almost everybody started.


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/


spamela


Nov 9, 2009, 9:15 PM

Post #264 of 329 (7260 views)
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Re: [pongo] Writing for business? [In reply to] Can't Post

I hope they still make 'em like Max Perkins!


belgium


Nov 10, 2009, 3:42 PM

Post #265 of 329 (7161 views)
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Re: [spamela] Writing for business? [In reply to] Can't Post

They probably still make them like Max Perkins, but he'd have a hard time remaining employed by most NY trade publishers.



Ridiculous Words


greenpenquills


Nov 14, 2009, 7:30 PM

Post #266 of 329 (7035 views)
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Addressing personal issues in your SOP [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi everyone. First, I should mention that I'm applying for an MFA in Creative Nonfiction. That being said, I'm having difficulty in deciding what to address in my SOP. The biggest reason I want to go to an MFA program is to get support and guidance in writing a memoir mainly about the trials and tribulations of struggling with depression and chronic anxiety disorders since a very young age.

I've always been steered away from mentioning my anxiety and depression in these types of things. However, when I try to explain my reasons for doing this without mention that factor, it ends up sounding generic and fake. I say I want to write a memoir, but not why. Would it be a huge risk to address these things head on in my SOP? I'd include other things, of course, and also mention that I have mostly overcome those things at this point in my life, but that would be a big part of it.

I feel it is relevant to mention, especially given that the program is creative nonfiction. They are asking me for my personal reasons and goals for going to their program and that's a big reason. My writing sample also includes two essays that have a lot to do with those things. I have a scene of myself in therapy at age six being asked why I'm anxious and another scene of being in therapy at age eight, dealing with the death of a friend. But I also don't want them to think that I'm crazy or unstable.

Anyway, I just wanted to know if anyone here has an opinion on this or if they've addressed things like that in their SOPs. Thanks!


OldScribe2000


Nov 14, 2009, 10:57 PM

Post #267 of 329 (7012 views)
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Re: [greenpenquills] Addressing personal issues in your SOP [In reply to] Can't Post

I wouldn't "dwell" on this one current work. After all, the education you'll earn will last you a lifetime, but this memoir you're writing will be finished soon. I think MFA committees want you to look at the big picture--and I think you should, too.

Also, don't beat the hell out of your struggles with anxiety and depression. Many, many, many people are also fighting these battles. The last thing you want is the people on these committees to say, "Oh, boy, another 'poor me, I'm depressed and angry and suicidal' writer."

I'm sorry if I sound cruel, but can you imagine what these people have been subjected to over the years? Telling them that you're battling depression and you want to write about it is like telling a cop that you were speeding because you were late for work.


greenpenquills


Nov 15, 2009, 5:17 AM

Post #268 of 329 (6987 views)
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Re: [OldScribe2000] Addressing personal issues in your SOP [In reply to] Can't Post

I definitely understand what you're saying and was afraid of it coming off that way. But then what other person reasons can I list for wanting to do this? Obviously I've been writing for a long time and it's what I want to do with my life, but that's what everyone says. Should I just say I want to write a memoir and not why? It all seems very generic without getting specific about what it is I want to write about. I feel like I can't really win here.


OldScribe2000


Nov 15, 2009, 2:37 PM

Post #269 of 329 (6952 views)
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Re: [greenpenquills] Addressing personal issues in your SOP [In reply to] Can't Post

Best advice I can give you: say what they don't expect you to say and phrase it in a manner that will make you appear as the best candidate for their program.

If you've never read a short-short story by Tobias Wolff entitled "Bullet in the Brain," then read it now. Imagine that the main character, Anders, is sitting on the MFA committees at the schools you're applying to. Do your best to impress that a**hole, and you can't go wrong.


fixittuesday



Nov 16, 2009, 7:26 PM

Post #270 of 329 (6880 views)
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Mentioning the W word. [In reply to] Can't Post

I was waitlisted at a few schools last year that I'll be applying to again this year. One school's director went so far as to encourage me to "please"(!) apply next year. Should I mention this in my SOP? Does mentioning the waitlist:

a) Remind them that I wasn't good enough last year?

or

b) Remind them that I was almost awesome enough and encourage them to consider me again in my new and improved state?


This year's writing sample is 8,765,342 times better than last year's. Should I let the writing sample speak for itself or identify myself as a former runner-up?

Anyone out there get accepted the second time around? Rejected? Thank you for any advice! ;-)


meory


Nov 16, 2009, 7:27 PM

Post #271 of 329 (6879 views)
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Specific versus general? [In reply to] Can't Post

Another Statement of Purpose question... I'm appying for an MFA in poetry, and in writing my Statement of Purpose, I notice that I keep using fairly general statements, like saying that I think the experience of an MFA program would improve my writing, broaden its scope, etc., but not saying exactly what I want to improve. The thing is, I don't know. I don't have specific issues or anything that I've defined as things I want to work on. I want to work on... everything. I just want to write as much as possible, to be surrounded by a community of writers, to read as much as possible -- basically to make writing my life as one can only while enrolled in an MFA program. My question is, is this so general that it will count against me because it's the same thing many other applicants are bound to say? I'm trying to make my SoPs more specific by tailoring them to each school and stating the specific things that attract me to each program. But when talking about my own intentions, goals, and things like that, should I be more specific, or is it okay to be somewhat general?


Woon


Nov 16, 2009, 7:51 PM

Post #272 of 329 (6862 views)
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Re: [meory] Specific versus general? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Another Statement of Purpose question... I'm appying for an MFA in poetry, and in writing my Statement of Purpose, I notice that I keep using fairly general statements, like saying that I think the experience of an MFA program would improve my writing, broaden its scope, etc., but not saying exactly what I want to improve. The thing is, I don't know. I don't have specific issues or anything that I've defined as things I want to work on. I want to work on... everything. I just want to write as much as possible, to be surrounded by a community of writers, to read as much as possible -- basically to make writing my life as one can only while enrolled in an MFA program. My question is, is this so general that it will count against me because it's the same thing many other applicants are bound to say?


Yes.

But as many have said, what counts is the Writing Sample. Who cares about the SOP?

To me, however, you should make every part of your application unique and set apart from the pool of applicants.


WanderingTree


Nov 16, 2009, 8:21 PM

Post #273 of 329 (6850 views)
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Re: [meory] Specific versus general? [In reply to] Can't Post

Meory, as Woon said, it's the writing sample that counts. That's what's going to get you accepted or rejected.

But, you should try to get in some specifics. It's almost impossible to not have some generalities in your SOP, but take a good hard look at the questions you posted because you already have some specifics there. Couple this with a program feature you especially like (or something along those lines) and you are golden.


meory


Nov 18, 2009, 2:34 PM

Post #274 of 329 (6730 views)
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Re: [WanderingTree] Specific versus general? [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you, Woon and WanderingTree. I want to make my statement unique, but I fear I really don't have that many unique experiences to talk about. I mean, I'm only 21, I've lived in the same state my whole life, never studied abroad or done any "well-rounded applicant" type things (would have wanted to, but just haven't been able to yet). So I'm hoping enthusiasm counts for something, because I try to get across in my statement that I am very committed to writing, to improving as a writer, to being part of a community of writers -- basically that I know this is what I want to do. And I talk a little about all the undergrad creative writing workshops I've taken, being a member of a local poetry reading group, and a couple other activities. For some reason the statement of purpose is what's stressing me out the most...


StellaBella


Nov 18, 2009, 2:40 PM

Post #275 of 329 (6729 views)
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Re: [meory] Specific versus general? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey meory,

I'm exactly the opposite. I've traveled, lived and taught in fifteen countries over the past five years and I speak fluent Spanish and French - I've got all sorts of random personal stuff I'd like to include (hitchhiking in South Africa, being evacuated from a Chinese train) but when I tried to weave some of that in, a friend of mine (who's now the undergraduate advisor at a big ten school) told me to nix almost all of it and focus almost exclusively on the "statement of purpose" vs the. "personal statement. Grrr! I can see his point, but I was going for the chance to shout hey, I'm unique!

But...I've mentioned that now but in a much more formal and straightforward letter that focuses on how travel has influenced my writing and will shape the writing I want to do in the program.

Any thoughts on that? I was told the statement should be an "academic autobiography" but I think, man, for creative writing, shouldn't there be a little leeway on that? I was also a history/history of science major when I graduated five years ago, so I don't have a lot to talk about with regards to my undergrad. And I haven't done any writing workshops since I've been bouncing all over the place.

Ok, this is getting really long, I'm stopping, I promise, but how many of you are including the writers you've read who've influenced you? Hollins in particular seems to want this, so I have a paragraph about the writers who've shaped my work.

Thoughts?

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