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Kyla_S
Kyla Steinkraus

Jan 22, 2014, 1:02 PM

Post #2576 of 2652 (8973 views)
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Re: [KitKat123] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi KitKat,
Who's your favorite writer?

I heard from Lesley last week via phone and just received an email acceptance from University of New Orleans. Anyone else hearing anything yet? It seems very early; I am still finishing up my critical essay for Spalding and Pacific Lutheran!


KitKat123
Kit Kat

Feb 6, 2014, 10:27 AM

Post #2577 of 2652 (8737 views)
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Re: [Kyla_S] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Kyla,
Congrats on the acceptance! Where else did you apply? Aleksandar Hemon is the writer I hope to work with. Do you know his work?


Ava
Ava Norling

Feb 7, 2014, 6:18 PM

Post #2578 of 2652 (8704 views)
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Re: [Kyla_S] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Congratulations! I applied to Lesley today, and received an acceptance from Spalding last night (applied there just two weeks ago). I applied to seven other places, so I'm waiting a bit. Where else did you apply? Fiction?


Kyla_S
Kyla Steinkraus

Feb 7, 2014, 6:43 PM

Post #2579 of 2652 (8698 views)
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Re: [Ava] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Kit Kat,
I know that he is a Bosnian writer, but have not read anything by him yet. I just pulled up a story of his from the New Yorker, and I'll read it this weekend.

In addition to the low-rez programs, I also applied to a full residency school near me, University of South Florida, as well as New England College in Fiction (new this fall, previously they've done Poetry only), Lesley, University of New Orleans, Pacific Lutheran University, and Spalding. New England College's website claims they are now offering significant funding to low-residency students, which is why I applied there. I have yet to hear back from financial aid though. ;-)

I am looking for a strong program, but also flexibility, which is why I did not apply to the most popular programs such as Goddard, Warren Wilson, VCFA, ect. None of them allowed less than full time. I can dedicate myself 100% to 15-20 hours per week, but 25-30 would simply stretch me too far with my family and work commitments. My husband is just finishing up his own low-residency masters in Education, and we have spent the last few years way too busy and stressed out. I have waited a long time for this, and I want to enjoy it, by golly! I do not mind taking three years, possibly even four, to finish.

Ava, congratulations! I also applied to Spalding two weeks ago and received a phone call yesterday. :-) I am quite impressed with what I've heard about Spalding's program so far. I love the flexibility of the nine month semesters, as well as their appreciation the interrelatedness of the arts, the chance to work on the Louisville Review, the ability to explore other genres, the faculty, ect. ect. :-)

Where else did you guys apply?


Ava
Ava Norling

Feb 7, 2014, 6:54 PM

Post #2580 of 2652 (8698 views)
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Re: [LMC] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

LMC -- can you tell me more about how you received your reading list? Was it assigned, something you put together with your advisor, recommended for you based on what you were working on, etc.?
I applied to Bennington and seven other programs. I've heard back from just one so far: Spalding, an acceptance. Hopefully, I'll have a few choices.
Thanks in advance,Ava


Ava
Ava Norling

Feb 7, 2014, 7:05 PM

Post #2581 of 2652 (8696 views)
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Re: [Kyla_S] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

It's funny; when I did my initial research and chose my top five, Spalding was in there--though I didn't rank them beyond a top five. Later, I couldn't remember what stood out to me about what program, so when Kathleen called I didn't have any questions for her. She did mention they were doing a bunch of calls that day; I wonder if anyone else in the Speakeasy got one?

I also initially applied to Bennington, VCFA, Converse College, and the University of Oxford. Yes, that Oxford. They have an MSt that's basically the same thing as a low-residency MFA. I'm Canadian, so it would let me spell my favourite words the correct way again! ;-) I'm also an expat in the Middle East, so the U.K. would be a more convenient trip for me. I do have a U.S. green card.

I just recently applied to NYU-Paris, Lesley University, and am finishing up a Warren Wilson app. I didn't apply to any full-res places, as I'm a 37 year-old mom of two who needs to be here in Saudi Arabia most of the time.


Ava
www.avanorling.com


(This post was edited by Ava on Feb 7, 2014, 7:09 PM)


LMC


Feb 7, 2014, 8:51 PM

Post #2582 of 2652 (8687 views)
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Re: [Ava] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Ava,
Students go to the residency with a draft reading list. After your piece is workshopped, you meet with your faculty person one-on-one for about an hour. Among other things, you go over the list and they check it and add to it. One teacher has a cannon of sorts and the rest base it on your work, what you are striving for and of course, what you are interested in reading. It will be cross-genre, but heavily in the area in which you are working. And it's not ground in stone at all. Things will be suggested by the faculty person along the way, based on what you are working on, books that will be useful as well as of interest to you. I think the term that I worked with Amy Hempel, it had so much added that I could have carried it to the next term.Should you chose Bennington, you will be assigned a student mentor in your genre, who can give you more specific guidance on the list and anything else that comes up. I have in the past sent out my old lists to my mentees, just so they can see what one looks like. But really, it's your license to read all the things you've been dying to read (and in my case, things I ought to have already read). Good luck with your applications. I remember the waiting---happy not to get to relive that! I am sure that you will have a number of excellent programs from which to pick! Also, know that some schools admit on a rolling basis and others do their admissions all on one date, which will seem late if you've done some schools that admit as they go. Again, good luck!


Ava
Ava Norling

Feb 8, 2014, 5:55 AM

Post #2583 of 2652 (8669 views)
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Re: [LMC] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks, LMC! That makes sense. I'm very attracted to the "Read one hundred books. Write one." philosophy. I'd love to take a peek at your reading list, if you wanted to share: ava.norling at gmail, but don't feel obligated at all.
How much of the Bennington program deals with or talks about publishing? Agents, editing, the changing industry? Is it almost all craft, and critical writing (what would the percentage of this be?)--or is there education on publishing literary fiction, beyond the informal?
Thanks!


LMC


Feb 8, 2014, 10:24 AM

Post #2584 of 2652 (8661 views)
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Re: [Ava] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

The great majority is craft. By far. At residency, there isn't too much on critical writing, as that is more for the annotations that are done with individual faculty during the term, and even there, they are about craft. We don't do any lit-crit, unless a particular student wants to and they work it out with their advisor. Same with reviews. Occasionally an individual lecture may veer that way. As to agents and editors, the only time that comes up, besides one-on-one, during the term (and here, I'd say late in the game) is that there are 'life of letters' lectures, which can be anything, and often they are alums who come back and talk about publishing post grad or critics, editors, etc who come in to talk. I think that the idea behind that is that while at school the focus is on the work, and that the other is for after. That said, a fair number of us, including myself are publishing in and working for literary journals while in school. I can tell you that in my experience, it's almost too much to deal with all of it at once--the school will be gone and the opportunity to publish will, in theory, always be there. While a few pursue and have gotten book contracts during their final terms, most continue to work on the material and are doing the business stuff in the first few years out. The best information I have gotten about agents has been at the conferences, particularly AWP. It is also the most efficient way to check out different presses to see if you think that your work is in line with what they are doing. (the other I'll send by email)


Kyla_S
Kyla Steinkraus

Feb 11, 2014, 10:38 AM

Post #2585 of 2652 (8547 views)
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Re: [Ava] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Ava,
Saudi Arabia. Wow. I bet that gives you some great material for your writing. Have you heard anything from any other colleges yet? Oxford sounds amazing! I'm going to look up their program.

I heard from Pacific Lutheran University today--another acceptance. So I'm officially waiting for one more and then I must decide. That'll be the hard part .... :-)


Ava
Ava Norling

Feb 12, 2014, 9:22 AM

Post #2586 of 2652 (8504 views)
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Re: [Kyla_S] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Congrats, Kyla! So awesome to have choices! How will you pick?

Right now, I've got acceptances from Spalding, VCFA, and... eeeeeeek... an interview with Oxford! An email came today--totally unexpected, since their site says they notify in late March. Maybe that means the actual acceptances, after the interviews? I don't know. Either way, I'm ridiculously excited.

VCFA's welcome was very warm and friendly, as was Spalding's. Honestly, both U.S. programs looked like a great fit for me. I read a ton about Oxford's early on, but sort of wrote it off as a pipe dream and tried to forget I'd applied--ha! Now I'm just in a daze. I'll figure it out later.

Still have to hear from Bennington, Lesley, and Converse. I can't remember now what I liked about Converse, but it must have been something significant because I went through them all and had Converse above Warren Wilson and Queens-Charlotte, for my purposes.

I didn't get a great vibe from NYU about their MFA in Paris at all, so I didn't finish my online application with them. And that was before knowing about Oxford; I knew I'd prefer Spalding or VCFA over NYU's low-residency program. Funny how much first impressions (and web sites/readily available detailed info!) matter.

In Reply To


(This post was edited by Ava on Feb 12, 2014, 9:26 AM)


Ava
Ava Norling

Feb 12, 2014, 9:24 AM

Post #2587 of 2652 (8503 views)
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Re: [Ava] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

What is the deal with line spacing/formatting on this forum? Geez!


Danuta Hinc
Danuta Hinc

Mar 22, 2014, 10:34 PM

Post #2588 of 2652 (7827 views)
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Re: [Ava] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Congrats, Ava! I got accepted to Vermont and Bennington. Can anyone help me with the choice? I don't know what to do! Please, help!!!


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
e-mail user

Mar 23, 2014, 1:04 AM

Post #2589 of 2652 (7823 views)
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Re: [Danuta Hinc] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm a Vermont alum (fiction). I loved my time with VCFA and have formed a strong community with my peers and advisors. What would you like to know about the program?

Jeanne


http://www.jeannelyetgassman.com
http://jeannelyetgassman.blogspot.com


Danuta Hinc
Danuta Hinc

Mar 23, 2014, 7:07 PM

Post #2590 of 2652 (7796 views)
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Re: [jlgwriter] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you, Jeanne! What professors specifically would you recommend and why?


swiftwater


Mar 24, 2014, 9:25 AM

Post #2591 of 2652 (7772 views)
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Re: [Danuta Hinc] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Danuta:
I am a graduate from VCFA as well. I would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have about the program.


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
e-mail user

Mar 24, 2014, 11:29 AM

Post #2592 of 2652 (7761 views)
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Re: [Danuta Hinc] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

That's a tough question, mostly because I didn't have anyone I didn't think was really good. One of my best teachers is no longer at Vermont. There are also some new people at Vermont that I've heard good things about. Connie May Fowler came after I was there, and she writes what I would call literary SF. I've never worked with her, but I thought she was really sharp when I was a grad asst. a couple of years ago. Doug Glover has a reputation (never worked with him) for being tough and demanding, and many of his students go on to publish books and win awards. I studied with Abby Frucht for my third semester (critical thesis) and had her twice for workshop. She's absolutely brilliant. Clint McCown was my advisor for my first semester, a great choice for me because he's quite knowledgeable about historical fiction. Nance Van Winkel is a sweetheart, who is a master when it comes to sentences and the use of language. She worked with me on my creative thesis, but she alternates every semester between fiction and poetry. There are others, too, who are great. Philip Graham takes on a limited number of advisees and is a walking library. Dominic Stansberry has a background in film and really understands how to make scenes work in a story. Larry Sutin is both brilliant and an original thinker who will take you in directions you've never considered. David Jauss is a Chekov scholar, an excellent choice if your interest is the short story. Those are just a few of your good choices at Vermont.

However, it might be helpful to understand more how the program works. When it comes to the workshop, you'll be assigned to a workshop with usually two faculty members as facilitators. You won't have a choice about your workshop unless there is some sort of pressing conflict.

Your faculty advisors for your semester tend to change every semester. The only exception to this would be if you made a special request to stay with one advisor for more than one semester to complete a major project. Otherwise, you list your choices during residency and find out the name of your semester advisor near the end of residency. When I was at Vermont (and I think they still do this), they hold a couple of speed-dating events where you can sit down one-on-one with each faculty member in your genre and talk about your interests and goals. This gives you a chance to learn about the faculty's teaching style and esthetic. Vermont makes an effort to assign you an advisor on your list, but you may not get your first choice, especially during your first residency.

Advisor assignments depend on a lot of things:

--How many students the faculty member is taking that semester

--The faculty member could have some slots filled with students who have been working on a long project and have put in a special request to stay with that faculty to work on their creative thesis

--The faculty member may be there for residency but taking a leave of absence for the semester

--The staff also makes an effort to balance the faculty's advisory load with a mix of first semester, second semester, third semester, and fourth semester students. Third and fourth semester students often have a more intensive schedule, so the staff tries to give faculty members fewer of those than first and second semester students.

It's also important to realize that a faculty member who writes from a totally different esthetic may turn out to be the best person you've ever worked with. Vermont is very careful to hire people who are flexible and willing to work with a wide diversity of writing and students.

Hope that helps answer some of your questions!

Jeanne


http://www.jeannelyetgassman.com
http://jeannelyetgassman.blogspot.com


raintree
Sandra Ludwig

Mar 25, 2014, 6:45 PM

Post #2593 of 2652 (7677 views)
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Re: [Kyla_S] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi, everybody:

I could use some advice/a sounding board with regard to applying to a low-residency MFA program.

Here's my story:

I know it's a cliche, but I always wanted to be a writer. I wrote all through grade school and high school, even writing a YA novel (greatly influenced by S.E. Hinton). At about age 20, I stopped. For the next 10 years, I worked at a job I hated and didn't write. At around 30, I went back to school and wrote a few short stories. I decided to major in English. Since books were the only things I cared about, I thought I might become a librarian. But I still wanted to be a writer.

In 1997, I left the job I hated and my luck changed for the better: I became a writer at a small community newspaper. Within three years, I was a columnist. Within four years, I had earned my BA in English, summa cum laude.

In the aftermath of 9/11, I lost my job. While I was unemployed, I started (but never finished) a novel based on my father's coal-mining family. I got another job, this time doing PR for a college. I pretty much stopped writing fiction. I didn't really like doing PR stories, such as basic press releases. I did enjoy interviewing the alumni, as I've always liked learning people's stories.

Fast forward a bit: I lost my job in 2009, and it took me almost three years to find another one. I'm working in my alma mater's library. I gave up on the dream of becoming a librarian. Librarianship seems to have much more to do with technology than it does with books themselves. I have a lot of downtime at work, and I've made a few starts at short stories, but haven't finished them. I'm having a bit of a hard time developing a "writing habit."

The school where I work offers an MFA in creative writing. I would get free tuition. I've felt the program calling to me, on and off. I know it would be a lot of work. It's low residency, so relocating won't be an issue. When the students have their residency, I watch them wistfully, wishing I were a member of the "club." I can't join a writing group b/c of the odd hours I work. I have no one to read my work. I never really think of teaching, though I know the MFA is a terminal degree. Sometimes I think about leading a women's journaling group. (I am also a mixed-media artist and art journaler; I had a story published in Stampington's "Art Journaling" this past fall). I keep thinking that it might be a shame to waste such an opportunity--a free master's degree.

I spoke to the program director about my application package (she is one of my former professors). She said I could submit my news stories/journalism pieces, plus anything in my genre that I'd like them to see. I could send part of my novel. I don't have to produce new short stories. I also have to do a 5 to 10 page personal statement, which I've started drafting.

The next residency starts in June, and the deadline for submission is May 15. The director seems to think I'm ready. I'm not so sure about that!

I keep thinking I should take an online course in short story writing. However, I feel guilty about spending money on a course (I'm pretty poor). The director said I will learn more in the MFA program than in any of these courses, but I thought I could use a brush-up/refresher course.

What do you think? Is it too soon to apply to an MFA program? Should I take an online workshop first?

Thank you for listening!


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Mar 25, 2014, 7:00 PM

Post #2594 of 2652 (7676 views)
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Re: [raintree] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Aside from one seven-week class as an undergraduate, I had no formal training in creative writing when I started my MFA. If the program director thinks you're ready, you're ready.

And it's FREE, fuhcrissake.


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/


dahosek
D. A. Hosek
e-mail user

Mar 25, 2014, 10:26 PM

Post #2595 of 2652 (7661 views)
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Re: [pongo] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

What pongo said. I started reading your account and was thinking that I would discourage you from taking out a loan to get the MFA and then I got to the tuition would be free part. If the director thinks you're ready, you're ready. Put together your application packet and get going. You have a very rare opportunity, take it.


http://dahosek.com


raintree
Sandra Ludwig

Mar 26, 2014, 3:09 PM

Post #2596 of 2652 (7630 views)
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Re: [dahosek] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you both for your opinion and advice.

I guess I have my doubts...all kinds. Since I haven't written anything except my journal in, oh, a couple of years (and that's not even a daily practice), I thought I might be jumping in too quickly.

Then there's that time commitment. You know, the 20-25 hours a week of homework. I do read quite a lot, but I haven't written a critical paper in over a decade.

That's why I thought: Maybe I should try an online class, before I go the whole hog.

I don't have a lot of self-esteem. I keep thinking, "They're trying to get a bigger class, that's why they're encouraging me!"


(This post was edited by raintree on Mar 26, 2014, 3:10 PM)


s0ckeyeus


Mar 27, 2014, 2:03 PM

Post #2597 of 2652 (7568 views)
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Re: [raintree] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Raintree, this is pretty much a no-brainer. If you can get in, go. Not everyone going into an MFA program has it all together. In some ways going in raw might even have its advantages. Plus, you probably have a bunch of life experience to work with. One problem with people coming into an MFA program directly after college is that, despite being polished writers, they often have nothing to write about. If an MFA is something you really want to do, go for it. You'll probably find that there are more people in the program like you than you anticipated.


silkentent
Margaret DeAngelis

e-mail user

Mar 29, 2014, 11:16 AM

Post #2598 of 2652 (7446 views)
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Re: [raintree] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

"Then there's that time commitment. You know, the 20-25 hours a week of homework. I do read quite a lot, but I haven't written a critical paper in over a decade."

I undertook my second master's degree (MA in American Studies, not an MFA) when I was 45. I had not written for a grade in 20 years (the last class for my first master's, an MA in English). I had never used an electronic card catalog nor a database of any kind. (This was in 1992.) I *was* using a word processor, though. (My introduction to that miracle in 1986 is what propelled me into fiction writing again.) I had been teaching secondary school English for almost 25 years, but my skill level had not progressed beyond what I needed to model for college-bound eleventh graders.

I was certain I would be a complete failure in the MA. I took two classes a semester (the most my employer would pay for). Classes met once a week for three hours, beginning at 6:00 pm. That 20-25 hours a week was a suggested time investment for that, too.)

The writing and research skills came back, and ripened. When I turned to writing only fiction or narrative nonfiction I did have to work to lose that academic voice. I do a lot less academic writing (and reading) now, and find that I have to work harder to evoke that tone, harder than when I took it up again in 1992.

I put that 25 hours in while teaching full time (six 45-minute classes a day plus study hall supervision and lunch duty) and parenting a primary-grade child. You find the time, you make the time, and you figure it out, day by day.

Just do it!


Margaret DeAngelis
Markings: Days of Her Life
http://www.silkentent.com/Trees


raintree
Sandra Ludwig

Mar 30, 2014, 5:19 PM

Post #2599 of 2652 (7366 views)
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Re: [silkentent] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you all for your advice and kind words.

I'm still a bit unsure of myself. I'm spending some time this afternoon looking over my novel. To be honest, it's been several years since I've looked at it, and it needs some revision. My husband asked me last night if I might feel better taking an online class in fiction writing, writing a couple of short stories, and then trying for the next residency period. The deadline would be December, instead of May.

Last time I thought I'd wait a few months, I kind of chickened out as soon as I ran into a rough patch in my writing. And then I shelved the idea. I'm not great at decisions (can you tell?) In my undergrad days, I dropped in and out of college a couple of times before I made the final commitment.

silkentent, thank you especially for your encouragement!


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
e-mail user

Mar 30, 2014, 6:22 PM

Post #2600 of 2652 (7359 views)
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Re: [raintree] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Raintree,

I would go ahead and apply by the May deadline. If the director thinks you're a good candidate, then you should trust her assessment. And what is the worst that can happen? The program rejects you or puts you on a wait list. If you're rejected, then you take a few online classes, beef up your skills, and apply again in Dec.

Just my thoughts...

Jeanne


http://www.jeannelyetgassman.com
http://jeannelyetgassman.blogspot.com

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