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bighark


Nov 20, 2008, 6:38 PM

Post #201 of 329 (6212 views)
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Re: [Linzetta] Favorite Authors Statement? [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't recall Arkansas wanting much more than the manuscript for its first round. No GRE, no SOP, no LOR, not even an application fee. Just manuscript.


Linzetta


Nov 20, 2008, 6:40 PM

Post #202 of 329 (6209 views)
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Re: [bighark] Favorite Authors Statement? [In reply to] Can't Post

Interesting. I'm not applying to Arkansas, but with little requirements, it wouldn't be that hard to throw it in. I wonder if schools that have less requirements receive more applications.


NickMcRae
Nick McRae

e-mail user

Nov 20, 2008, 6:59 PM

Post #203 of 329 (6207 views)
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Re: [bighark] Favorite Authors Statement? [In reply to] Can't Post

That's what I thought at first for U Ark--manuscript and the GTA application. But then I noticed that, at the bottom of the GTA application, they ask for 3 recommendation letters, a teaching statement, a critical sample, transcripts, and GRE scores. Still worth it though.


"You got a song, man, sing it. / You got a bell, man, ring it." - Robert Creeley

Nick McRae
nmcrae1@gmail.com
http://nickmcrae.com/


keljsim


Dec 6, 2008, 1:03 PM

Post #204 of 329 (6089 views)
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Writing for business? [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm applying to 8 schools-6 MFA programs and 2 MS Journalism. Yes, I'm indecisive. I'm a creative nonfiction (aspiring) writer. Honestly, I enjoy working in a fast-paced business environment (currently work in the fashion industry). I love to write, love school, love business. I want to get an MFA so I can improve my writing and get a job in the literary industry. Editing, publishing, writing features for magazines or (my dream) NPR. Will it offend the admissions committee if I begin my SOP with "my primary goal is not to publish my writing"...and continue to explain my desire for a real job in the "business" of words? Maybe it would be refreshing to see a student with different goals than most., maybe not. HELP--Iowa is due next week!!


HopperFu


Dec 6, 2008, 1:40 PM

Post #205 of 329 (6080 views)
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Re: [keljsim] Writing for business? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
"my primary goal is not to publish my writing"


That in your SOP = circular file.

The primary purpose of the SOP is to show that you aren't crazy. Refreshing = crazy.
I think what you are saying actually make sense, but arguing for an MFA as job training is not the way to go. You can certainly argue that it is an ancillary benefit, something that is "in addition to" all of the wonderful ways it will help you improve your writing.


Mae Fields



Dec 6, 2008, 1:48 PM

Post #206 of 329 (6079 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Another SOP question [In reply to] Can't Post

Hopperfu,

I'm glad to see you on this thread today, because I am fine tuning my SOP today and I had a question. I also posted it over at the MFA blog, so I'll just copy my question here.


Q:

In the personal statement, should I include research I would like to pursue in graduate school?

The reason I am asking is because schools like Iowa do ask applicants to "describe any research you wish to pursue..." on the application.

I do have a thesis, but am concerned it will not resonate with all the members of the admissions committee.

I ran my thesis by a professor and she approved it, thought it interesting, but my idea for research is close to being within her area of specialty.

Do you think I should include a statement about my research in my SOP or should I leave it out except in instances where I am asked about research directly??

Thanks! I am fine tuning my statement, about to get apps. in the mail, and still on the fence about this.



keljsim


Dec 6, 2008, 2:13 PM

Post #207 of 329 (6071 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Writing for business? [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for responding so quickly--I needed some direction and appreciate such a candid answer. So my question now is: isn't everyone going to talk about the wonderful ways in which the MFA will improve their writing? How do I keep my SOP genuine and interesting? Is it really about proving that I'm not crazy?? It's painful to write the same essay as everyone else--should I just suck it up?


In Reply To

In Reply To
"my primary goal is not to publish my writing"


That in your SOP = circular file.

The primary purpose of the SOP is to show that you aren't crazy. Refreshing = crazy.
I think what you are saying actually make sense, but arguing for an MFA as job training is not the way to go. You can certainly argue that it is an ancillary benefit, something that is "in addition to" all of the wonderful ways it will help you improve your writing.



HopperFu


Dec 6, 2008, 2:34 PM

Post #208 of 329 (6064 views)
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Re: [Mae Fields] Another SOP question [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Do you think I should include a statement about my research in my SOP or should I leave it out except in instances where I am asked about research directly??


That's hard to answer without knowing what you mean by research. My opinion on this is that it is probably worth including IF you qualify it in some way ("ONE OF THE THINGS that informs my writing is X") and IF the research area is more experiential than academic. In other words, if you are Korean-American and want to research the first wave of Korean-American immigration in Duluth, Minnesota (yes, I'm making this up), that is probably interesting and should be included. No if your area of research is "the way hegemony and colonialism has influenced the post-feminist inclusion of dystopian literature."
Many profs believe that you should have a thing that you write about, something that is yours - i.e. the Korean-American Duluth experience - and this can be a decent thing to include on your SOP. I do think it is important though to qualify or couch it in such a way that it is clear that this is not the only thing you write about or are interested in.
And all of this may be moot if your writing sample and other facts about you make it really obvious what your "area of research" would be. I.e., I have a friend who wrote a book set in the former Yugoslavia, and her name is very clearly in that vein, so it probably wouldn't have been necessary for her to indicate that this is an area that interests her.

And in the interest of being long-winded, I should add that I am not sure that I actually agree with the idea that you are supposed to have one thing that you write about or claim as your own. I'd argue that it is precisely as an MFA student when you should write about all sorts of things and not limit yourself to one thing.


HopperFu


Dec 6, 2008, 2:39 PM

Post #209 of 329 (6059 views)
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Re: [keljsim] Writing for business? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
isn't everyone going to talk about the wonderful ways in which the MFA will improve their writing? How do I keep my SOP genuine and interesting? Is it really about proving that I'm not crazy?? It's painful to write the same essay as everyone else--should I just suck it up?

Yes, I don't know, yes, yes.
Okay, non-flip answer is that, no, there are going to be some people who write about how they've always wanted a pet monkey or how they want to write for the aliens. Those people are awesome, because they aren't your competition.
At the point your SOP gets read with seriousness, it means they like your writing sample and want to admit you. I would argue that you should be honest - why are you going for an MFA? - and professional. There will likely be something about you or about the reason why you are applying that is interesting, but don't force it.
At the end of the day, we can't really predict what committees are going to like or dislike. It is possible that if you go out on a limb somebody will say "this guy is great! So honest!," but it is more likely to work against you. The most important rule about SOP writing is: do no harm.
In your specific case, I think the part of your SOP that IS original or your voice is the part where you make the argument that in addition to how much it will help your writing, and how you hope to become a published writer, you are interested in eventually ALSO working as a journalist / NPR person, etc.


spamela


Dec 6, 2008, 7:50 PM

Post #210 of 329 (6009 views)
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Re: [keljsim] Writing for business? [In reply to] Can't Post

A heads-up: gettng an MFA will most likely *not* help you get a job in publishing--at least not books, and probably not magazines. There are other technical writing degrees you could get instead, if you want to be more attractive to national publications (journalism and science writing spring to mind). All the professional publication writers I know got their jobs writing for national publications by starting at the bottom and working up. Same with all the book editors I know. None of them have MFAs. MFAs are art degrees which are not perceived as preparing you for professional writing work of the sort you'd be doing for magazines or the administrative and reading work you'd do as an editorial assistant. This isn't true across the board, of course, but in my editing career and the careers of my friends, these things have been true. This may not be true of small presses, but small presses rarely pay or hire.

If you really want to work in publishing, the best way is to hit the street and start applying for jobs, or enroll in one of those summer publishing courses (Columbia and Harvard/Radcliffe have them) to make connections.


keljsim


Dec 6, 2008, 8:29 PM

Post #211 of 329 (6002 views)
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Re: [spamela] Writing for business? [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the advice. I am a little unsure about whether I actually want to get an MFA, which is probably why writing the Statement of Purpose is so difficult. For now though, I need to get the apps in before the December 15th deadlines so I have options. I'm applying to Northeastern and Columbia for journalism at the same time. Do you enjoy your career? What exactly is the "bottom"? And do I have to live in NYC to have a career in publishing/editing?


In Reply To
All the professional publication writers I know got their jobs writing for national publications by starting at the bottom and working up.



pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Dec 6, 2008, 8:41 PM

Post #212 of 329 (5995 views)
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Re: [spamela] Writing for business? [In reply to] Can't Post

There are graduate programs in publishing (Rosemont College offers a masters, and I assume there are others), and there are extension courses at NYU. If you want to be an editor, these (and the Radcliffe program) are much more useful to you than an MFA.

Try looking here: http://www.gradschools.com/...gramType=0&Page=


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/


(This post was edited by pongo on Dec 6, 2008, 8:44 PM)


spamela


Dec 6, 2008, 9:12 PM

Post #213 of 329 (5985 views)
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Re: [keljsim] Writing for business? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey, I PMed you with my (very long, sorry!) answer.

I would caution against paying for a masters in publishing. I don't know a single editorial assistant, editor, senior editor, executive editor, etc. who has one. It's a waste of time and money--you learn everything you need to know on the job. The summer programs are useful for making connections and helping you figure out which branch of publishing you may want to go into. But a graduate degree in publishing seems to me like a University cash cow.

Plus, when you begin work in publishing, you have to start at the bottom anyway. Because editing is so much about connections you make on the job with lit agents and writers, no one's going to hire you as anything more than an editorial assistant if you've never actually worked in publishing before, no matter what degrees you have. So you can either spend a lot of money and time on an advanced degree and then get an editorial assistant job. Or you can just get an editorial assistant job.

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


spamela


Dec 6, 2008, 9:30 PM

Post #214 of 329 (5974 views)
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Re: [spamela] Writing for business? [In reply to] Can't Post

caveat before people in masters publishing programs get upset with me: This has just been my experience working for a large fiction publisher in NYC. It may be a different story for specialty publishers (science, textbooks, etc.) about which i know very little. And certainly extension courses (as opposed to a full-fledged graduate degree in publishing) could be very useful in helping one decide what field/area of publishing one wants to work in, similar to the summer certification courses I've mentioned. And if you can get *funded* in a masters publishing program, great. But the people I've known at the NYU program were not funded and NYU is not cheap. Plus, the job market right now sucks, and publishing pay is crap in best of times. In my opinion and experience, a good internship beats them all.


HopperFu


Dec 6, 2008, 9:42 PM

Post #215 of 329 (5968 views)
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Re: [spamela] Writing for business? [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd second what you are saying about the internships.
A woman I was on a panel with recently (she's at Newsweek) said that you should think of the cost of an internship (since most are unpaid) as an expense you are paying instead of going to grad school in journalism.


django79


Dec 6, 2008, 10:38 PM

Post #216 of 329 (5956 views)
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Re: [spamela] Writing for business? [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm not sure how relevant or competitive this program may be since it relocated from Radcliffe to Columbia, but while at Radcliffe, The Radcliffe Publishing Seminar boasted some very high-rolling alumni. One such alumni works at Knopf and recently purchased a pw.org member's novel. Google "Columbia Publishing Course" for more info. I just wanted to mention a program that has had some tangibly successful results, but again, I'm unsure of their efficacy since moving to Columbia.

best,
t


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Dec 6, 2008, 10:39 PM

Post #217 of 329 (5955 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Writing for business? [In reply to] Can't Post

Oh, I had a career in publishing before I got my MFA (and not afterward) so I would actually endorse the idea of avoiding a masters in publishing. A few extension courses are not a bad investment, though.

The main thing a degree in publishing will give you is two years before you need to find a job.


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/


keljsim


Dec 7, 2008, 12:45 PM

Post #218 of 329 (5895 views)
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read my SOP? [In reply to] Can't Post

I know it's a lot to ask, but would anyone consider reading my statement of purpose? I'm so glad to have found this forum--you have been life savers!


Mae Fields



Dec 7, 2008, 6:20 PM

Post #219 of 329 (5838 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Another SOP question [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you. That was very helpful. I hadn't thought of qualifying the research by tying it to my writing. I feel my statement's better, more unified now, so I appreciate your feedback.
M.


__________



Dec 7, 2008, 6:57 PM

Post #220 of 329 (5825 views)
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Re: [Mae Fields] Another SOP question [In reply to] Can't Post

Someone help me settle a bet:

Let's say you've taken a little foray into, I dunno, 'gonzo fiction' -- in which you re-enact, for realsies, various episodes from your stories, in order to identify and possibly write about how a third party might react. So far this might possibly include dressing up like a priest, boarding a public bus, and making out with a nun, or slipping a clerk a handwritten note that says you've just gone insane. Let's also say you've had some luck with this, and that it's so fun it just might be shaping your fictive world view.

Do you:

(a) Shut up about it, because in a personal statement, people would think you are crazy, or

(b) Go ahead and include it, because, hey -- the Surrealists pulled similar stunts, and committees won't mind.


I won't disclose my own take...but I would love some opinions. Thank you.


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Dec 7, 2008, 6:59 PM)


writerteacher


Dec 7, 2008, 10:34 PM

Post #221 of 329 (5776 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Another SOP question [In reply to] Can't Post

Hah! Oooohhh...

This may be random, but my first instinct is that for fiction, an applicant's process is immaterial. I can't see a committee being convinced that a gonzo approach somehow implies a greater commitment to writing, or verisimilitude, than the ass-in-the-chair approach.

If you're going for CNF, though, mentioning process feels more relevant and may be interpreted by the committee as revealing. But maybe not.

I say don't mention it, and I'd follow Hopperfu's rule for the SOP: Do No Harm. (He wisely counsels that the purpose of the thing is to demonstrate one is *not* crazy.)

Gracious, that's funny, though.
WT


HopperFu


Dec 8, 2008, 8:49 AM

Post #222 of 329 (5739 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Another SOP question [In reply to] Can't Post

I think for non-fiction it might work, but you damn well better make it sound really well-thought and part of the lasting tradition of gonzo journalism WITHOUT being yet another one of the bazillion (usually young men) pure imitators.
I think for fiction, please mail me your application fee instead of throwing it in the trash.*

*the serious answer is that there is always an exception, and it is possible that somebody will read it and think that's wonderful, but you are going to get WAY more "hell no!" responses then "well that sounds interesting!"

Keep in mind that one of the considerations that faculty make is that you are going to be their student and part of the program for a little while. If your SOP makes it seem more likely that you'll need to be bailed out of jail by the department chair more than twice (the first two times are free in any MFA program), that's probably a bad strategy.

Again, the purpose of your SOP is not to show how creative you are. That's what your writing sample is for.


Raysen


Dec 8, 2008, 12:33 PM

Post #223 of 329 (5699 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Another SOP question [In reply to] Can't Post

Pick (b). You would then just be one LESS competition for me in the MFA application game.

Seriously, don't take risks in the Personal Statement. Without divulging any secrets in my Personal Statement, I explained:

(1) my motivations in life;
(2) my major accomplishments -- and I stress "major" (vs. "minor") -- and how it's related to my motivations in life;
(3) how nice I am -- tying it back to my motivations in life;
(4) why I want to attend _________;
(5) my research plans and what I hope to achieve at ________; and finally,
(6) summarize what I just said above with an emphasis on how my motivations in life tie everything together.

Oh, and also, I pointed out that I'm somebody famous.


(This post was edited by Raysen on Dec 8, 2008, 12:35 PM)


Mae Fields



Dec 8, 2008, 3:52 PM

Post #224 of 329 (5659 views)
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Re: [Raysen] Another SOP question [In reply to] Can't Post

Raysen,

Please don't take this personally, but if you are somebody famous then why did you need to "point it out" in your SOP? Wouldn't your fame make you inherently recognizable to any admissions committee? Either way, your strategy makes me giggle a little bit. Perhaps only because I'm tired of working on applications and this incredibly long paper on European Modernism I'm completing, I've drank entirely too much coffee today and oh, I'm not famous -- though I am less worried about that then other aspects of my application.

I think I might write a sentence in my SOP that states just that: "By the way, in case you're wondering, I am completely not-famous. Utterly mundane. There is nothing remarkable about me in the least... " Of course, I'm kidding.

Who is the illustrious Raysen? Are you Chelsea Clinton, Paris Hilton, Toni Morrison, MacCauley Culkin, a former Mousketeer, or an American Idol reject? As stated before on this thread, inquiring minds want to know.

Either way, I hope your fame is related somehow to your good works and writing rather than your celebrity or spectacle.

Again, best of luck to everyone applying.

M.


(This post was edited by Mae Fields on Dec 8, 2008, 4:02 PM)


Raysen


Dec 8, 2008, 4:45 PM

Post #225 of 329 (5647 views)
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Re: [Mae Fields] Another SOP question [In reply to] Can't Post

I was kidding about the "famous" part. I'm actually a nobody.

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