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Mar 16, 2006, 8:53 AM

Post #76 of 793 (11483 views)
Re: [sibyline] An observation [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree. I write to please myself and I write to meet my own standards, which, I suppose, is writing to prove something to myself. But whenever I've tried writing with the audience in mind (don't you need to have something/someone else in mind if you are working to prove something that is outside the writing?), the words come out forced.

Regardless, I am a believer in different writers working different ways. What hinders me may drive someone else to beautiful writing.


Mar 16, 2006, 10:51 AM

Post #77 of 793 (11440 views)
Re: [augustmaria] An observation [In reply to] Can't Post

I feel the same way. Of course I want to prove something with my writing, but if I'm thinking about that while I'm writing, either I can't write at all or what I write is crap (which might eventually be revised into something that is not crap).

The conditions I need to write well are pretty similar to the conditions I (once, long ago) needed to act well. There's this flaky sounding talk about the feedback loop, "being in the moment" (the latter frequently being tossed around on The Actor's Studio with James Lipton). It's just to say that while I may hope for applause, awards, any kind of accolades for my work, I have to ignore those desires while I work. Everything outside has to go away until I'm inside the poem/story/play/whatever.

Then I set the work aside for awhile and come back to it from the outside.

(This post was edited by theapplepicker on Mar 16, 2006, 10:52 AM)


Mar 16, 2006, 11:02 AM

Post #78 of 793 (11427 views)
Re: [stephkarto1] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks Stephanie!
I've got my fingers crossed for you, too!


Mar 16, 2006, 11:36 AM

Post #79 of 793 (11417 views)
Re: [sara15] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post

The Fifteenth Sara: Thanks. Very interesting. Are a lot of nonfictioners working toward a memoir for their final thesis? Is it strange having your life workshopped? That seems especially terrifying.

I've been in fiction workshops in which people said things like, "I really don't like this narrator." I suppose you have to avoid comments like those in nonfiction workshops.

Marisa Lee

Mar 16, 2006, 2:43 PM

Post #80 of 793 (11456 views)
Re: [bighark] Methods of Acceptance [In reply to] Can't Post

Does anybody know if Indiana or Irvine are out yet?


Mar 16, 2006, 2:45 PM

Post #81 of 793 (11453 views)
Re: [rapunzel1983] Methods of Acceptance [In reply to] Can't Post

Last year I got my Indiana rejection pretty late in the game. I recall it arriving some time in the second or third week in March.

Irvine is notoriously late with its notifications. I wouldn't expect to hear anything until after April.

(This post was edited by bighark on Mar 16, 2006, 2:46 PM)


Mar 16, 2006, 4:23 PM

Post #82 of 793 (11421 views)
Re: [bighark] Methods of Acceptance [In reply to] Can't Post

ack, this is week three of march. indiana? hellloooooooo indiana!

Clench Million

Mar 16, 2006, 5:35 PM

Post #83 of 793 (11378 views)
Re: [clarabow] Methods of Acceptance [In reply to] Can't Post

I want to know where my JHU acceptance or rejection is. Apparently they've been sending out rejections for weeks and acceptances the past couple days. I only live one state away from MD, tell me already....


Mar 22, 2006, 3:47 PM

Post #84 of 793 (11232 views)
Re: [viviandarkbloom] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post


I think a nonfiction writer could either write a memoir or compile a collection of essays for their final thesis. And yes, it can be strange having your life workshopped (a great way to put it, by the way!). But I think “nonfictioners” (I like this, too) still appreciate receiving feedback on their writing. So even though we might avoid comments like, “I really don’t like this narrator,” we might instead say something like, “Your narrator is coming across in ‘this’ way. Is this how you hoped readers would respond to this narrator?” And again, I’m sure other nonfictioners would have more to add!

Good luck with your applications and with your writing (and I would certainly recommend a NF workshop if you get the chance!).


Apr 7, 2006, 3:21 PM

Post #85 of 793 (11074 views)
Re: [sara15] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post

I feel like I'm kind of in a bind and I'm curious what other people would have to say about my dilemma. I applied to a bunch of schools in nonfiction this year but have only been accepted into three programs and waitlisted at two. I'm still waiting to hear from three other programs, but because it's so late at this point to be hearing, I'm assuming the news won't be good. I would be ecstatic if I turn out to be wrong, but I'm just telling myself that since it seems likely that I'll be getting rejections or maybe waitlists whenever I finally hear from the last three schools.

Anyway, I'm thrilled about the three acceptances but all three schools are expensive, private schools and I'm only seriously interested in one of the programs (Sarah Lawrence.) One of the others, Emerson, has offered me a graduate assistantship, but even with that the MFA would still cost me at least 50K, and I'm not that excited about the program. SL of course isn't offering me much $, and if I went it would put me at least 64K in debt. I just feel like that is too much for me, especially since it seems like so many people get funding from schools. If I don't get off the waitlists or into any other schools, I'm wondering if I should continue to work on my writing and reapply next year to only well funded programs and hopefully get some good funding. But I'm not sure how many people actually do get good funding from schools. It seems, though, like a lot of people on the Speakeasy do/have....

I really want to go to school next fall. I'm 32 now, I really wanted to go ahead and get started on this now. But the idea of being socked with debt that would take me years and years to pay off just doesn't feel right -- especially when it seems like so many people don't pay that much for their MFA, and I might get a much better offer next year. Plus, I may want to go on for a Ph.d. later on ... that would be more money....

My best friend and her husband encourage me to just go ahead and do it, and they wonder about the likelihood that I would get better funding a year from now. But, having all that debt for an MFA just doesn't seem like a good plan, you know?

What do other people think?


Apr 7, 2006, 3:50 PM

Post #86 of 793 (11054 views)
Re: [jennymck] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, I'm coming from the fiction side, and I honestly don't know about the non-fiction side in terms of funding. What I would suggest is to take the next couple of days and try to quickly research how many programs there are that offer good funding that you would be interested in going to next year. If there are say, 10 programs, then I would suggest taking the risk and applying again.
There are people here who don't have a problem with the debt. I do.
I have two young kids and my partner makes essentially the same salary as a teacher, which is okay, but certainly in the range where $50K of debt would be huge.
If you have a spouse with a great job or family that would help significantly, that's one thing, but if not, then taking on debt is something that should be done only with serious thought. Think about the job you will likely end up with when you are done and your ability to handle that kind of debt and what it will mean for your life choices.
There is no lock on getting in next year, but since you did get in at three schools this year, my guess is that if you apply to enough schools next year (10 to 15, say), you will get in somewhere. Just make sure that they are all places that a) you really want to go, and b) have funding.
I'd also argue that if you do decide to go and pay out of pocket, you should ONLY go to places that you absolutely feel like you HAVE to go to.
I can understand why you are torn, but to me, one of the questions you have to ask yourself is, how many programs are there that I COULD get money from. I'm 32 and I'm going this year, but I only applied to four schools because I only applied to schools that I absolutely burned to go to, figuring that it made sense to wait one more year than to compromise early on such a huge decision.
I know that when I was originally looking at schools to apply to (in fiction), I only considered schools that offered tuition waivers plus a decent stipend, usually in exchange for TA or other work. There were a lot of them.


Apr 7, 2006, 3:51 PM

Post #87 of 793 (11052 views)
Re: [jennymck] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post

I understand the desire to get started now, but if you're feeling this uneasy about the financial aspect of committing to a school that will cost you big bucks, well, a year isn't really that long.

If you reapply next year to a well-funded 2-year program, you'll be graduating with those of us that enter 3-year programs this fall.

I can see how painful it would be to be so close and then choose to wait, but debt is a really terrifying thing. And yes, there are people who attend some expensive schools, sink themselves into debt, and later say they have no regrets. But debt is stressful. Chances are, we're not going to make the money to pay off our debt within a relatively short period of time. And how much are you going to be paying for the $60k education? This is something that seems to go overlooked. Maybe it isn't actually overlooked, but we don't seem to discuss it: you aren't just going to be paying back the $60k. You're going to be paying it back with interest. What will that interest amount to over the life of your loan? Another ten thousand dollars? If you're lucky.

Here's an example, and it's really scary. I'm not trying to be scary; it's just that this is how I see things. I don't want to give out too much personal information on the Internet, so I won't use specific numbers, but I have a federal student loan (which means it's relatively low interest). I selected a fairly aggressive repayment option. If I payed my minimum every month for the life of this loan, I would be paying 1.3 times the amount I borrowed. If you got your loans at this same interest rate and you had the same aggressive plan that I did, you would pay $78,000 over the life of the loan for the $60,000 you borrowed.

I'm not a financial advisor, so this figure is probably buggered (for instance, it might actually be *more* because you will be taking out half that amount for the first year, not likely paying much of it as you go, and then taking out the other half for the following year). But this is how it looks to me, and as such, it is the main reason why I didn't apply places where I didn't have a good chance of getting funding.

So, is it worth that amount of money for you? Or do you think you really would be happier without that kind of debt?

If you decide you want to look elsewhere, one place you can look is Ohio State. I'm not a nonfiction person, so I can't give you details on a bevy of programs, but I can say that people studying at Ohio State seem to be very happy. Ohio State is also a fully funded program.

Mike Ingram

Apr 7, 2006, 3:57 PM

Post #88 of 793 (11043 views)
Re: [jennymck] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post

I think you're right to be concerned about taking on too much debt for a degree that won't necessarily get you a better-paying job than you could get now (I don't know what you do now, or what kind of work experience you have).

One suggestion would be to go take a look at the Department of Education's web site and figure out how student loans work, and see what your repayment options would be for $64,000 in loans. That will make it more tangible -- my guess is you'd be paying between $300-$400 a month at a minimum, and at that level it would take you a pretty long time to pay the money back. But this is only a guess; others who know more about loans can probably give you a better figure.

The reason I suggest doing that research is so you can think more concretely about what that loan amount would mean for your life. How much money would you need to make, post-graduation, to meet those payments (plus pay rent, bills, etc.)? Is making that kind of money realistic for you? What sorts of sacrifices would that entail, and would they be worth it?

This might also lead you to thinking about what you want to do after graduating from an MFA program. Teach? Because there are jobs to be found, but initially most of them would be adjunct or part-time positions that don't pay all that well.

Anyway, none of this is to say you should decide one way or the other ... just some questions you may want to try and answer for yourself.


Apr 7, 2006, 3:58 PM

Post #89 of 793 (11042 views)
Re: [theapplepicker] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post

Any way. As I said, I'm sure my figure's buggered, but you can probably find yourself a debt calculator somewhere on the internet, which would give you a more accurate idea of what you're up against.


Apr 7, 2006, 4:08 PM

Post #90 of 793 (11024 views)
Re: [jennymck] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post

Is there by any chance an option to defer admission at Sarah Lawrence? Do any of the MFA programs offer this possibility? I work at a university graduate program in another field, and when we admit someone and they say they want to wait a year before starting, we let them; their admission stays in play until the following year. Maybe none of the MFA programs offer this since they're in such demand--but maybe some do. Have you asked? If you can defer admission for a year, that would solve everything, woudln't it? You can research and apply to other programs for next year, and then be able to decide between SL and any of the new batch that accept you.

Clench Million

Apr 7, 2006, 4:12 PM

Post #91 of 793 (11020 views)
Re: [jennymck] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post


Its a tough decision. I'm in a similar position (unless I get off some waitlists). Some things I'd keep in mind:

If you are 32 and have been writing for a long time, I'd have to assume your writing won't significantly increase or decrease in quality. As such, you probably have the same chance of getting in next year as this year. SL is a great school and a great program, but even if you got into it this time there is a chance you won't get into any next year. In fact, there is a speakeasy member who said he got into SL (fiction I think) one year and then no programs the next year.

So its a risk. Most likely you will get in somewhere next year, but there is a chance you won't and you should keep that in mind.

Like Hopper said, I don't know what your finanical situation is. If you have family that can help you pay, then it might be worth it.
Keep in mind that being in NYC is a big advantage. The publishing records of the big NYC schools is fantastic and you are right in the literary heart of america (if not the world). Let me quote someone from TK's blog:

I did the journalism masters program at NYU, one of the most expensive places on earth. I was dirt poor, but I was plugged straight into the literary light-socket in New York--lots of readings, contact with writers, and chances to work with good people.

Always weigh contacts and job markets alongside the cost of an MFA. Funding-less, NYC will be a challenge. With some funding, it is do-able. Be like me--just live in Brooklyn, pack lunches, and find a couple reliable, cheap bars. Jason Boog, at 2:12 PM


Apr 7, 2006, 4:13 PM

Post #92 of 793 (11020 views)
PhD programs in Creative Writing - Debating Between Two [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Everyone,
Glad I found this forum (through Tom Kealey's appendix). Hopefully I'm not an intruder here.

I'm almost done with my master's in literature at Texas Tech University but I've applied for PhD programs in Creative Writing. I chose PhD over MFA mainly because I want to continue in acadamia as well as write so I thought it would be the best choice for me.

I applied to eight schools and got rejected from all except for Texas Tech University (where I'm at now) and University of South Dakota (I expected this, coming with a more literature than creative writing background). I'm seriously debating between the two. I'm trying to go by Tom Kealey's book regarding the list of priorities. He recommends the following:

1. Funding
2. Location
3. Teaching Experience
4. Faculty

I made out a detailed list about what each of the schools above have to offer and I'm at an impasse - Funding is the same for both, though USD tuition/fee waiver is higher than at TTU - Texas weather is pretty nice, the town is mid-size, whereas Vermillion is mega cold in the winter (I'm told) and a tiny town (though that actually wouldn't bother me at all) - teaching experience at USD sounds a bit more reasonable (but the way they teach composition at TTU is a bit screwed up because they have an "experimental" system) - these three things are pretty much comporable - it's where it comes to the faculty that I get stuck on. TTU has 6 creative writing faculty (2 poets, 2 non-fiction writers, 2 fiction writers, though all, except for the poets, write other things) and they are actively publishing and the grad students are also actively publishing. USD has 3 CW faculty (one poet/fiction, two fiction, but one recently published poetry) and they seem pretty good but I don't know if their publishing and awards credentials are as good as TTU. Also, their students seem ok in terms of conferences and some publishing, but from what I've seen, most of that is in the literary journal that the department publishes.

One the one hand, I've been at TTU for a few years and though I could certainly stand it, I'm the kind of person who likes a change and Vermillion sounds like a friendly supportive community (not that TTU isn't...) On the other, I'm worried that career-wise, it might not be a good move. I know that the TTU faculty's reputation has been rising and one of the CW PhD students went into the job market this year and despite the massive competition, managed to get a few offers for tenure-track positions and had to turn one down.

I'm making myself make a decision by Monday, even though technically I have until April 15, just to get the pressure off. I've been debating this over and over for weeks now.

It's been really helpful to read these posts and look at what other people are considering and what choices they're making.



Apr 7, 2006, 4:18 PM

Post #93 of 793 (11012 views)
Re: [tammay] PhD programs in Creative Writing - Debating Between Two [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm in a somewhat similar position with Indiana and UMass...I just don't know what to do. Love both faculties; similar funding (I think...does Indiana have better funding?); both are in great college-y places...I am totally bugging out. I don't know what to do.


Apr 7, 2006, 4:25 PM

Post #94 of 793 (11002 views)
Re: [oliviasfortunes] PhD programs in Creative Writing - Debating Between Two [In reply to] Can't Post

Indiana definitely has better funding and, in my opinion, a better teaching load.


Apr 7, 2006, 4:27 PM

Post #95 of 793 (10998 views)
Re: [augustmaria] PhD programs in Creative Writing - Debating Between Two [In reply to] Can't Post

I am still really confused by Indiana funding. Can you explain a little more?

Why do you think the teaching load is better?

Thanks, August Maria...! Perhaps we will be classmates next year.

Clench Million

Apr 7, 2006, 4:27 PM

Post #96 of 793 (10996 views)
Re: [jennymck] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post

Jenny: Also, do you know if there are other funding options for second years?
I don't know anything about SL's program, but Columbia is another NYC school with bad funding, yet they have a variety of funding options for second year students (TAships, RAships, etc.)


Apr 7, 2006, 4:34 PM

Post #97 of 793 (10992 views)
Re: [Clench Million] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks to everyone who has responded to my post. I really appreciate it! If I don't get off the waitlists (I'm No. 3 at AZ, they've already accepted No. 1 off the list but I think the program is tiny like they accepted only like 5 people), it's going to be a tough choice, but I'm agreeing with the people who caution against astronomical debt. Thanks HopperFu for the research suggestion -- that's a really good idea and I think I'll do that research. I actually am confident my writing will improve a lot this year, it improved a lot from last year, so I think (I hope!) I'd have a chance of getting into more schools next year. But, again, like someone said, there's no lock on that. I have a decent job I suppose now income-wise, I edit and do production work for a news website. The salary isn't great, especially for the San Francisco Bay Area, but I'm able to live on it and slowly pay off my pre-existing debt, but I know that post-MFA I likely won't be any more marketable than I am now. I can get jobs, but it's not like I'm ever going to be pulling in six figures or anything. Basically, I don't want to have major MFA debt, if I don't have to -- if I have a good chance of getting into a competitive program next year that suits me that can also offer significantly more funding.

Sarah Lawrence looks awesome to me, but it's true that it doesn't have everything I want out of a program, so it's not quite like my absolute, ultimate dream fantasy program, you know? It's really great in some things, but than there are some things it doesn't have....

I'm just really praying I'll get off a waitlist, but I know that might not happen and I'll have to make a tough decision!

Anyway, thanks for everyone's thoughts and suggestions.


Apr 7, 2006, 4:37 PM

Post #98 of 793 (10985 views)
Re: [Clench Million] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post

Clench Million, thanks, yeah, that's a good point, although actually SL doesn't offer more funding second year. Emerson offeres TAships to 50 percent of the students, but if I went there I'd already be doing a graduate assistantship (10 hours/week), a friend who went to Emerson said TAships can eat up 20-25 hours/week, and I'd still be paying gobs of money for a school that I'm not totally psyched about.... So ... it doesn't seem like the most ideal option in the world....


Apr 7, 2006, 4:41 PM

Post #99 of 793 (10980 views)
Re: [oliviasfortunes] PhD programs in Creative Writing - Debating Between Two [In reply to] Can't Post

Indiana's funding is, I think, better than what UMass offers because it's non-competitive; everyone gets a very generous amount. As for teaching, the first year, all the A.I.s teach one CWR workshop a semester, and then the second year A.I.s teach Comp and CWR, I think. There's even more options for the third year. The website explains it much better than I can. Also, I suggest calling Catherine Bowman with your questions--she's incredibly nice and was patient with my inane questions. :)

(This post was edited by augustmaria on Apr 7, 2006, 4:42 PM)


Apr 7, 2006, 4:41 PM

Post #100 of 793 (10979 views)
Re: [franz] Has Anybody Made a Final Decision? [In reply to] Can't Post

Franz...I know you turned down UMass...I'd like to know why...I know JHU had bonuses over UMass...but were there aspects of the UMass program you were less-than-happy with? I've been choosing between UMass and Indiana for over a month now and still don't feel 100% sure! Thanks.

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