Nov 6, 2006, 7:47 PM
Post #87 of 329
here's mine... really different from hopperfu's and we're in the same program, so...
I would like to pursue graduate studies in fiction to be in an environment where I can experiment and broaden the scope of my work, aided by the structure of a rigorous curriculum and consistent feedback. I also wish to continue and finish projects already underway. By the time I receive my degree, I plan to have manuscripts ready for publication, and a clearer idea of the directions in which I wish my future work to go. I would also like to teach fiction at the college level.
At present, I am working primarily on a novel entitled To See, while also writing short stories as a way of trying new ideas. To See is a first-person novel about a blind girl who grows up in a rural part of the Philippines then immigrates to the United States, where she eventually becomes a scientist who works on retinal implant technology that may allow blind people to see. She eventually has to decide whether or not to be one of the first people to have the operation that she herself helped develop. I am overlaying the twin themes of disability and immigration in order to explore the conjunctions and disparities between the two. In addition, I want the novel to explore how technology is viewed from two different cultural perspectives.
While I have many different ideas for short stories, the ones that are forming themselves into a cohesive body of work are set in the Philippines. A common thread in these stories is the way they depict actions and situations that are unfamiliar, almost implausible to Westerners, but are still within the realm of reality. In the stories I’ve included as part of my application, a six-year-old boy starts a revolution and a man returns from America after a quarter century to find the same servant outside his window. These events, while unusual, are much more plausible in the context of my native culture than they are in America. I want my stories to occupy a space between the real and the fantastic, so that they can continue to comment on aspects of lived life, while at the same time communicate how reality can be experienced in many more ways than a reader expects.
I believe that immigrant fiction as an increasingly established genre has the potential to move in such diverse directions, and I wish to be part of that movement. I am particularly interested in finding ways to write about immigration without making the fact of immigration so central to narratives, just as many of us who have immigrated indeed have to grapple with the consequences of our new lives on a regular basis, but must also contend with many other parts of ourselves. I also wish to write immigrant fiction that knowingly describes the problems of representation, of the way in which the act of writing itself necessarily distills and transforms experience. I have also written and will continue to write fiction that is not about the immigrant experience at all, but is nonetheless colored by my unique cultural perspective.
I studied English Literature as an undergraduate at Harvard, where I focused on dramatic literature but also did significant coursework in the 19th and early 20th century novel. I also have an MFA degree in Photography, which has allowed me to teach college-level courses both at Harvard and the California College of the Arts. However, I also feel that getting an MFA in fiction would fill significant gaps in my knowledge. For instance, I have hardly read contemporary or even postwar fiction in a class, and would like the experience of analyzing and discussing such work in a school setting. I have also had limited experience taking fiction classes in universities, and feel that ongoing feedback from faculty and fellow students, who will come to know my work on a consistent basis, will be invaluable.