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darredet
Darren A. Deth


May 12, 2005, 5:32 AM

Post #1 of 36 (6742 views)
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About to start MFA Can't Post

I know there are several of us who will be starting our MFA programs very soon. I'm curious as to how people are dealing with this new venture getting closer. Are you excited? Nervous? Thinking-what have I done? Are you writing more or less than before you were accepted? What further actions are you taking to get prepared?

For me, the answer to my first three questions are yes and no at the same time. This is almost the let down period, I think, simply because the acceptance came eight months ago. Once it gets closer, like early June, I'm expecting I won't be sleeping much due to the excitement coming back; manuscripts will be going out and lectures chosen. As far as the writing is concerned, I am beginning to write more. I have a couple of projects in the works, one poem ready to be sent out, and the start of a new novel that I have been wanting to write for some time. In regards to further actions--the next one is financial aid. I'm still waiting for the award letter.

For those of you who have been through this already, whether you're in the middle of a program or already graduated, please feel free to respond as well.

Darren


willbell
Will

May 12, 2005, 9:41 AM

Post #2 of 36 (6735 views)
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Re: [darredet] About to start MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, I'm all of the above and often unfocused.

I'm reading a lot more than I'm writing. I've been organizing my works-in-progress and creating a detailed study plan. Actually, I've been thinking a lot about the study plan lately. I've also had a lot of pure energy, so I took 5 days to redesign my home office/study. I built some nice floor to ceiling bookshelves, if I may say so myself, painted, and organized the room for future comfort and inspiration. Now that it's out of the way, I can't use it as an excuse in the fall.

Lastly, I've been going to more readings. Last night, I heard Nicole Krauss read from The History of Love. Good times.


fattery
Victoria M. Chang
e-mail user

May 12, 2005, 10:18 AM

Post #3 of 36 (6733 views)
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Re: [darredet] About to start MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm starting a Ph.D. in August and there's a mix of anxiety and excitement, like you. I'm awaiting my award letter too for the stipend, buying parking permits, getting a new laptop, etc. etc. I know my two classes I have to take and located them on maps, know my schedule, and have visited campus twice. It's hard to know what to expect, but I can relate to your experiences for sure!


laroo


May 12, 2005, 11:24 AM

Post #4 of 36 (6721 views)
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Re: [darredet] About to start MFA [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I know there are several of us who will be starting our MFA programs very soon. I'm curious as to how people are dealing with this new venture getting closer. Are you excited? Nervous? Thinking-what have I done? Are you writing more or less than before you were accepted? What further actions are you taking to get prepared?


I didn't write more than 100 words during The Wait. Now, fear and anxiety have become incredible motivators: a lot of talented folks are going to be reading my stuff, and I want to be prepared. My goal is to work through a few drafts of two new stories by the end of summer. For the past month or so, I've been writing (or, some days, just sitting down and thinking about my stories) for two hours every night after work. I plan on keeping on my full-time job at least through the first semester, so I am trying to get into the swing of things earlier rather than later.

What I am beginning to discover for myself (rather than hearing it from other people) is how important discipline is in writing: sitting down every day, hashing through the same ideas over and over again, digging in to characters, developing my own writing process--this is what it's all about, I think.


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

May 12, 2005, 3:29 PM

Post #5 of 36 (6697 views)
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Re: [laroo] About to start MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

I arrived at Goddard with a very clear idea of what the next two years would be like.

Every bit of it was wrong.

Be prepared for surprises.

dmh


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/


anabobo


May 12, 2005, 3:34 PM

Post #6 of 36 (6694 views)
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Re: [darredet] About to start MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

Wow, you motivated folks... I am doing...not much else than what I've always been doing? The frequency of writing, attending readings, etc. is not much changed. If anything, I'm trying to rest - I'll be working f/t and going to school, so I'm enjoying my formless evenings while I can.


the wind



May 12, 2005, 4:25 PM

Post #7 of 36 (6687 views)
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Re: [anabobo] About to start MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

i am both excited and nervous. it's hard to live my day to day life, when my mind drifts and wanders to life in the desert and riverside. i don't want to just get a check (especially working with kids), but it's so hard to focus of late.
i was lucky enough to talk to a future classmate and that was really nice, to hear someone having the same thoughts and concerns about school, class, moving, etc.

wow, someone just wrote about having "talented people" read our stuff. that is making me nervous a bit. not for the ability part, i think they saw something in each of us, but more about the discipline and will to write stuff.
i look to stuff i wrote 2 years ago, a year ago, even my writing sample, and sometimes i think "what the hell were you thinking?" like it's almost comical to me. i want to come to fall workshop with two stories in progress (they say the first quarter is stressful in its newness and its best to come with stuff beforehand). i am really excited about the pieces as they've been just hanging around my brain for awhile and now they will be born.

good luck to all, write well, be well


rooblue


May 12, 2005, 5:38 PM

Post #8 of 36 (6681 views)
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Re: [anabobo] About to start MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

Enjoy your formless evenings while you can. That's a very good strategy. Since July 04 I've had about nine "formless evenings" and let me tell you, they seem really precious to me now. Because now, even when I'm not actually doing MFA work, I'm obsessing about MFA work. I can't speak for residency programs, but low-res programs are intense. Your work occupies your head every waking moment, whether you're actively writing or reading or just commuting home from your day job. MFA thoughts will also eat up some of your dream space.

Before you start, get done as many life maintenance things as possible: car repairs, dental trips, visits to in-laws, house painting, etc.etc. You won't have time or energy for them once you're underway. And hang out with your non-writing friends! My writing friends understand, but my non-writing friends are pretty pissed at me right now.

And good luck, and have fun. It's a wonderful experience.


darredet
Darren A. Deth


May 12, 2005, 6:22 PM

Post #9 of 36 (6676 views)
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Re: [catherinebrown] About to start MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

Good advice on wrapping up projects and spending time with friends. I have been busy doing just that. While I have not been actually doing the physical labor, as I am not mechanically inclined, I have been talking to contractors about vinyl siding, roof replacement, and finishing off windows. This is in addition to wrapping up my PTO activities this year and getting them ready for the next president. And now my daughter just came in with a piece of fence, which shows some rot. Yay.

I have been advising people for months that once I'm in the program I will not be as readily available, if at all.

Darren


mingram
Mike Ingram

May 12, 2005, 6:51 PM

Post #10 of 36 (6673 views)
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Re: [darredet] About to start MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

The residency program experience is a little more relaxing. I mean, I'm busy here -- especially since I'm teaching. But I'm less busy than I was a year ago, when I was working full-time and trying to write in whatever spare time I could manage. Although I guess "relaxing" might not be the word, because having big chunks of unstructured time puts some different pressures on you. Especially when you're surrounded by people who are doing high-quality work. It's definitely been a lifestyle change, and it took me a while to adjust. But I've enjoyed it so far.

Mike


silkfx2004


May 13, 2005, 11:51 AM

Post #11 of 36 (6636 views)
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Re: [mingram] About to start MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

Getting accepted to graduate school is only the latest in a string of events, occurring over the last 18 months or so, that have me reeling...so much so that I'm lucky I'm able to hang on from one day to the next. So needless to say I'm honestly not thinking too far into the future.

During the last 2 weeks of April, I was working on finding a place to live and dealing with the culture shock involved in leaving a big city for a small town. Now that I've found a place, I'm looking around at all my shit and wondering what's coming with me and what's not. Seeing as I'm already in "starting over" mode, I'm seriously considering getting rid of everything that's too big to be carried by a single person. Good thing I'm not too attached to furniture (though I do love and would miss my bookshelves).

As for the writing: Well, I've looked at my work habits, which are bad, and made some steps to improve on them, which is good. If I'm not where I need to be when I arrive, I expect I'll get there once I get a better sense of my overall schedule.

When it comes to the program itself, I have to say I'm really not that worried. For once in my life I'm truly letting go and letting (insert-deity-of-your-choice-here). I have faith that it's all going to work out for the best, whatever it is.


--------
Nobody but God gets it right the first time. Everybody else has to rewrite. --attributed to Stephen King

(This post was edited by silkfx2004 on May 13, 2005, 11:53 AM)


writelarge

e-mail user

May 13, 2005, 12:15 PM

Post #12 of 36 (6630 views)
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Re: [silkfx2004] About to start MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

Silk:

I'm with you. My past year has been insane: Sold and finished the manuscript on my first book in early 2004. Moved from the sticks back to DC after two years of research and a long-distance relkationship. Found a job. Found a place. Married in June. Continued editing book while working full time and pursuing MA at Johns Hopkins part-time. Applied for full-time programs in the fall. Found out wife was pregnant in December. Book finished for real in January. Found out baby is actually twins a few days later. Start receiving MFA acceptances at the same time I begin negotiations for a really serious job that paid lots of dough. Book published in February, more acceptances roll in, but no funding, so full-time MFA is out. Promotion at current job. Book promotion. Book promotion. Book promotion.

Then in April, over the course of one week: Job with big dough comes through. Current job matches offer. Apartment building catches fire in the middle of the night. The alarms don't go off. Neighbors die. Pregnant wife and I crawl out with firefighters's assistance and descend 11 stories. Next day MFA program calls with full funding and TA-ship. Move in with mother-in-law. A few days of nerve-wracked decision and--reject the dough and accept the TA position to pursue the writer's life, and in the process subject the new family to potential poverty.

So no, I haven't been doing a lot of writing. But I look forward to getting back to it.


mizrachi


May 13, 2005, 2:51 PM

Post #13 of 36 (6611 views)
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Re: [writelarge] About to start MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

Wow. Looks like book # 2 will be autobiographical.
.


silkfx2004


May 15, 2005, 8:50 AM

Post #14 of 36 (6562 views)
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Re: [mizrachi] About to start MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

SERIOUSLY.

Writelarge, you should have fingers of steel, what with those kinds of changes buffeting you about.

Hang on...God bless...good luck!


--------
Nobody but God gets it right the first time. Everybody else has to rewrite. --attributed to Stephen King


Windiciti



Jun 14, 2006, 11:01 AM

Post #15 of 36 (6323 views)
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Re: [rooblue] About to start MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

Hello, Catherine,
It's been a while.!
Happened to see your message, and it's so to the point as usual.
Only one comment: it's impossible to do alla those cars and dentists thing at once, and then hope they'll stay put. Yhe just keep occurring again and again!
What are you doing this summer, after the residence?
Wpuld love to hear from you.
Wendy


Windiciti



Jun 14, 2006, 11:12 AM

Post #16 of 36 (6322 views)
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Re: [Windiciti] About to start Ma in Creative Writing at Northwestern [In reply to] Can't Post

Very excited! My first Writing Workshop class stasts 9/18/06 and there are already 8 people registered out of 12. They seem as eager as I am.
I have no clue as to how much work it will be.

I am still an "alternate" for a very juicy fellowship (lots of $$). If I get it my tuition will be FREE, I can quit my evening teaching job, and go full time.
Instead of doing the rational thing and taking the first course this summer--a boring sounding "Lit across the Genres" I will be gadding about all summer at workshops, etc.

And yes, I am entering contests, and polishing stories that were workshopped and need revision.
HOW ABOU YOU newly minted future students? What are y'all doing?


cyncity


Jun 15, 2006, 3:39 PM

Post #17 of 36 (6254 views)
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Re: [darredet] About to start MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

I am about to start my MFA Program in one week! The University of San Francisco has a summer session...gulp. I hate to admit this but since getting accepted I have spent the last few months NOT WRITING. I haven't been completely irresponsible. I've found a place to live as I am in NYC at present and I got my funds in some sort of order but that is about it. Oh, wait, I also bought some books on where to go in San Francisco. Truth be told I am both excited and terrified. I think I am the most scared that this laziness that I have suddenly found myself in will thicken once I am in the program as opposed to magically evaporate as I have been hoping.

I feel like I am waiting for something and the waiting has replaced the writing.

Upon reading this blog I am now unsure that I am doing the right thing. It seems like everyone else is writing in preparation and I am only preparing to write.

Am i the only freakshow out there feeling like this?


Kcchen


Jun 15, 2006, 8:33 PM

Post #18 of 36 (6226 views)
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Re: [cyncity] About to start MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

No! No! not at all! I am in exactly the SAME boat. in fact, I am much worse off. I haven't written anything substantial in THREE YEARS (since I graduated from college). And I am so swamped at work that it doesnt look like I'm going to get to write much at all before I start my program at Emerson this Fall.

One (small) consolation, on Tom Kealey's creative writing blog, someone wrote in saying that his/her MFA program informed its students that it was most interested in the work that was generated from their own workshops and not so much in work that had been written previously. I wonder if this is common?


cyncity


Jun 16, 2006, 12:36 PM

Post #19 of 36 (6190 views)
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Re: [Kcchen] About to start MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

glad to hear I am not alone! I suppose it makes sense that work generated while in the program would be of more interest. good luck to you!!!!

In Reply To


davidjoseph


Jun 25, 2006, 7:10 PM

Post #20 of 36 (6090 views)
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Re: [darredet] About to start MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

Dear all,

Like previous posters, I'm trying my best to gear up for the start of my MFA work.

I recently left my job (I tell my friends that I've retired), and am hoping that the ensuing two months will give me a few solid starts to bring to the workshops. To that end, I've set a goal of 1000 words written per day, and it's been a good motivator for me thus far.

I'm also trying to get as much planning out of the way for the class I will be teaching at the University. We get pretty free range on the kind of course we'll be teaching, and I've choosen "Rebellion in Literature" as my class topic. This is for sophmore undergrads. I will be teaching Coetzee's "Waiting for the Barbarians," along with various short stories and poems. If people have any suggestions for appropriate short stories, I'd be grateful to hear them.

Aside from that, I'm trying to do all of the east coast things I've wanted to do before I move to the flatlands of middle America. Hiking the White Mountains. Visiting old professors and ex-girlfriends. Deciding what books to bring. Standing in line for Red Sox tickets. Getting the car fixed up.


darredet
Darren A. Deth


Jun 26, 2006, 6:29 AM

Post #21 of 36 (6064 views)
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Re: [davidjoseph] About to start MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

The day I have been waiting for over a year and a half for is finally here. In a few hours I will be packing my car and heading north to Vermont College. For those of you who are leaving soon, are already at your first residency, I wish you the best.

Darren


__________



Jun 26, 2006, 8:31 PM

Post #22 of 36 (6021 views)
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Re: [davidjoseph] About to start MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

Congratulations, northeasterners! Now if someone could only assure me that others get into the MFAs...

Three rebellious tales spring immediately to mind. The first is Bartelby. The second is from A.M. Holmes' The Safety of Objects--the one where the lawyer doesn't get a raise and starts peeing in the office plants. Secretly, of course. Good stuff. The last is Will Self's The Indian Mutiny, found in his book Grey Area. It's ten pages and packs a wallop.

Good luck!


six five four three two one 0 ->


GDClark
George David Clark
e-mail user

Jun 30, 2006, 1:31 AM

Post #23 of 36 (5946 views)
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Re: [darredet] About to start MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm currently living in Little Rock, sharing a room with my 13-year-old brother in my parents' house until I head off for UVA this fall. I've been waiting tables at the local Olive Garden to support my book budget and save a little money for rent until the stipend kicks in. I keep thinking there is something more I should be doing in preparation for the MFA (besides trying to glean what advice I can from veterans and wearing out my library card).

I'm also wondering what everyone else out there is hoping/expecting to get out of the MFA expirience. I read somewhere, maybe Charles Wright's _Quarter Notes_, that the MFAers that don't grow much are the ones who don't get risky enough with their work while they're in the program. They've had enough success to get in the program so they tend to mainly expand what's worked so far. I read _The Eleventh Draft_ and felt like several of those essays (though they were geared to fiction writers) echoed the thought. So I've been playing with forms this summer, something I've never done before.

I still suspect there's been some sort of mistake in the creative writing department's paper work and I'll get a call any day now letting me know that my acceptance was intended for the George who lives Seattle, and that they hope I'll reapply next year. I'm well aware that know next to nothing so I'm afraid I'll be behind the rest of the class (most of whom seem to be significantly older than I am) when things get underway come August.

I want to make these next two years as beneficial as possible. Any suggestions?


(This post was edited by GDClark on Jun 30, 2006, 1:39 AM)


kcole7
Kristin

Jun 30, 2006, 1:59 AM

Post #24 of 36 (5944 views)
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Re: About to start MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, I'm doing the same thing as all of you: writing, stressing, reading. From April until the beginning of June, I mostly sat at my computer waiting for a phone call to say it was all a joke. Now, I took a job at the library so that I can read all day, and I signed up for a few graduate summer courses at my alma mater. Yesterday, I started to work on a project for one of my fall classes.

Lest anyone think I'm too productive, we still have no place to live, and no idea of what we can afford. My husband and I have no jobs lined up there, and we have no idea where our kid will go to school (because we have no place to live.) Oh, and we haven't packed one box. Not one. Unless something happens in the next 5 weeks, we're screwed.

On another note, is anyone really sad about leaving your current home? I've always had a love-hate relationship with L.A., but I'm really going to miss it. Whenever I really miss a place, it becomes the setting in all of my stories, so I expect to write a lot about L.A. in the next few months.


sibyline


Jul 6, 2006, 10:29 PM

Post #25 of 36 (5808 views)
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Re: [kcole7] About to start MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

For those of you who are going through MFA Board withdrawals (like me) and may want a forum that's a bit more open, I started an MFA group on livejournal. It's at http://writingmfa.livejournal.com.

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