Apr 18, 2011, 6:20 AM
Post #2381 of 2628
Re: [JessieB] Summer 2011 Acceptances
[In reply to]
I have questions for both Bennington and Spalding. They're both on my list, but I'm wondering about what people thought of Bennington. I got their literature the other day and saw they require a ton of reading, which is great for me because that's how I learn to write. But the literature also left me feeling like the program was a little cold. The website does the same.
As for Spalding, I wonder about the literary journal. Does everyone work on that? Or only people who want to? Do you feel like that experience helped you at all in terms of writing and/or the job market? What would you say is the best thing about Spalding? And kudos to you with the two year old--mine is turning two in July and by next July her father and I will (hopefully) both be enrolled in graduate programs (him for an MBA, me for my MFA). It's going to be a challenge with the little one. I'd love to hear how you made it through!
Reply: Everyone is required to work on the literary journal. At each residency all students are required to read a certain number of submissions (it was ten while I was there, but I think it may have been lowered since). If you wish to do work beyond that, you may apply to be an assistant editor (I'm not sure what the exact title is) while you are in the program. A friend of mine did that and was pleased with her experience. As for me, I only did the required residency readings, but I found it to be extremely valuable. It put me on the other side; I was able to read as an editor reads, and I learned a lot about what makes a piece stand out. The biggest element that affected my reaction to the piece was surprise. There had to be something new, something unpredictable, that the writer learned and thus shared with the reader. Otherwise, the piece fell flat. I learned many other things as well, such as what kinds of cover letters are appropriate, what formatting looks professional, etc. But the element of surprise (maybe you would call it insight or revelation) has stayed with me as a part of my writing process.
The best thing about Spalding? That is hard to answer! There were so many things that I loved about the program and the people. Maybe that is the easiest answer: the people. It was so wonderful to be surrounded by writers. And of course there were several people with whom I felt very connected and continue to stay in touch.
Other things I valued: the cross genre approach, the interrelatedness of the arts, the mentor experience (Nancy McCabe, Greg Pape, Molly Peacock), student readings every night, the visitors (W. S. Merwin, Lemony Snicket, Heather Raffo to name a few), the writing I accomplished while I was there.
As for "making it through," I was lucky enough to have a great deal of family support. Spalding was also very supportive and encouraging. My dad once asked me, "How do you get it done?" And I told him that I always felt drawn to the work, so getting it done was not a problem. The challenge was not ignoring other important things. I could always work on my writing. That's the easy part. I am sure you will find a way. But feel free to message me if you have specific questions.