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Feb 26, 2010, 4:26 AM

Post #1 of 4 (1053 views)
When? Can't Post


This is my very first post. I'm a fairly new writer, young writer. I'm thinking about eventually applying for an MFA program. The logical progression seems to be attain a bs/ba/b-whatever, then apply for MFA. Some take a few years off to live life, attain experience, break a few hearts, have their heart broken a few times, then apply for an MFA. But whether you apply right out of undergrad or after a few years hiatus from school your writing level is not quite on par with anyone elses.

my question is: where along my learning arc should i apply for a MFA program? how polish does my writing have to be before I trouble myself with collecting LOR, writing essays, taking the GRE in preparation for applying for an MFA program? basically, at what level should my writing be to make me competitive for an MFA program? when? when should i apply?


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Feb 26, 2010, 7:58 AM

Post #2 of 4 (1039 views)
Re: [friedpigeons] When? [In reply to] Can't Post

It should be at the point where you think you need the help you can get from an MFA. For some people, that's never.

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Feb 26, 2010, 8:46 AM

Post #3 of 4 (1038 views)
Re: [pongo] When? [In reply to] Can't Post

Pongo has it exactly -- many people enter an MFA believing it's a stepping stone to a teaching gig, publication of a book, cronie-ism, what have you. MFA programs can be wonderful and terrible experiences, but they should be entered only when you believe they have something to offer your art. That's especially important in terms of which program is right for you. Reputation should really be second to your own personal investigation of faculty, student perception, location, whatever factors you determine are important beyond the name of the program. Plenty of writers have had their art explode after participation at small, unknown programs -- more still have seen their writing implode after 2-3 years at Iowa.

Shawn Rohrbach
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Feb 28, 2010, 4:44 PM

Post #4 of 4 (1006 views)
Re: [friedpigeons] When? [In reply to] Can't Post

Get the MFA when you want it. In spite of negative opinions expressed throughout this forum against the value of an MFA, the arguments are more utilitarian. Many see the MFA as a can opener into an agency or publishing house. No, it is never a gaurantee of getting published. Nothing is. Does it open doors? Yes. It does provide the credentials for teaching at any community college and most major universities. I know eight classmates of 11 who are currently teaching full time and earning tenure. The University I work at, (non-teaching position) the MFA met the base requirements for a masters degree and I enjoy a better pay grade because of it. The MFA got me a part time editing position with a small publishing firm in los Angeles and I occasionally take on some of that work. One MFA grad who was a year ahead of me is a creative director for an ad firm in Seattle. One grad who was a year behind me is an editor who remembered my work in class and emailed me after she secured that position and we are working toward the completion of an experimental novel. She has taken the first 50 pages "upstairs" and is an evangelist for it inside the publishing house. Who knows. I waited until I was 40 to go to Naropa and only wish i had the money and time a decade earlier, but events did not permit that. If you care to see what I have published, visit my web site at www.shawnrohrbach.com Again, get the MFA when YOU want it. Good luck.

Shawn Rohrbach

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