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pongo
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e-mail user

Oct 10, 2010, 10:12 AM

Post #1001 of 1018 (13520 views)
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     Re: [umass76] The Top 25 Underrated Creative Writing MFA Programs in the United States [In reply to]  

I don't see what's wrong with seeing training in the arts (any of them) as an apprenticeship. You work with a master (or, in some programs, a group of masters), learn to be a better artist, and complete a work that shows you are, if not a master yourself, at least a journeyman. That's pretty much why I got an MFA, although I also use it to get teaching jobs.

Becoming a journeyman never guaranteed you a job; it merely said that you were qualified to do the work.

It's not an exact analogy, but it's not so far off as to be offensive.


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jaywalke


Oct 10, 2010, 10:29 AM

Post #1002 of 1018 (13517 views)
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     Re: [umass76] The Top 25 Underrated Creative Writing MFA Programs in the United States [In reply to]  

Points taken. Mostly I was a pissed over football last night and looking for a fight. You always come through.

A few clarifications for the next spat:
You're at a big state school now, right? Take a look around the offices at 5:10 p.m. Do you see any staff, any administrators or AP faculty? The 40 hour figure is still very real for state jobs in my experience (from the inside). Even those working on research don't stay late. That's what grad students are for.

$50K total costs for a grad student is for a year-round appointment. Extrapolation is not needed, and you can't compare that figure directly to salaries. That is *total* costs: salary, tuition, benefits and indirects (the cost of having a building in which to work, electricity, phones and computers and parking spaces, office cleaning staff, etc.--for every head you add to a budget these costs expand to some degree). To compare that to a standard job, you have to add fringes and indirects to those as well, which basically doubles every total. It has also occurred to me that, for a departmentally-funded TA, the tuition part of these costs simply move from one part of the university accounting system directly to the bursar, where they are counted as income (or they are waived). $50K is what we would charge the federal government for a fully-supported GRA, for example, but giving tuition to a department within the university is basically free. With the indirect included, that reduces the cost to the university by about $16K. So we're at $34K.

The hours calculation does not exactly jibe either. You are including only the TA hours, but using the entire value received for your calculation, including tuition. Classes, writing and studying are part of a grad student's "job" as well, and if you include those hours it is far over 40.


(This post was edited by jaywalke on Oct 10, 2010, 10:30 AM)


umass76


Oct 10, 2010, 12:46 PM

Post #1003 of 1018 (13496 views)
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     The Top 25 Underrated Creative Writing MFA Programs in the United States [In reply to]  

My point was that private-sector jobs are no longer 40 hour/week jobs, and if TAs weren't being paid and getting health insurance and tuition remission from universities they'd be in the private sector working more than 40 hours/week. That makes university jobs look pretty cushy, as you yourself seem to intimate in noting that no one ever has to work late in such a job. As to whether TAs stay late, I'd say even the most hard-driving TAs I've ever seen wouldn't dare to claim they work more than 25 hours/week on a 2/2, or much less on a 1/1.

I see your point about adding in classes, writing, and studying, but in fact that then skews your calculations--as the value of the degree that studying earns a student is, in pecuniary terms, about $20,000/year over one's lifetime, or about $800,000 between the ages of 25 and 65. So the value of what the university is giving a student/TA is not just the tuition remission, or the stipend, or the health insurance--which I also didn't factor into the value TAs are getting!--nor the job security, which can't be quantified, nor the relative lack of stress (the health problems public defenders develop, physically and substance-abuse-wise and mental-health-wise, are not those of TAs), nor even the teaching experience, which surely leads to a higher-paying job later on (and one more likely to be in the area the individual wants to live in), but the value of the degree itself in terms of future earnings. The point I think we're both seeing is that this is a "relationship" both student/TA and university benefit enormously from, and that students wouldn't keep going to MFA programs rather than working 60 hours/week in a construction job if they thought otherwise.

But Anis's "apprenticeship" model is absurd because he's using what is primarily a pedagogical term to completely misstate how MFA programs work pedagogy-wise--and Pongo, low-res programs are a different beast altogether pedagogy-wise--and then he's glossing over the fact that the economic valence of the term "apprentice" simply doesn't apply to MFA students whatsoever.

S.


Swamp Thing
Jim Ryals

Oct 10, 2010, 2:14 PM

Post #1004 of 1018 (13480 views)
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     Re: [umass76] The Top 25 Underrated Creative Writing MFA Programs in the United States [In reply to]  

I need to friend you then, Seth.


oscarwrites


Oct 12, 2010, 3:26 PM

Post #1005 of 1018 (13389 views)
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     Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

I'm planning to apply to the MFA fiction program at Brooklyn College and Hunter. Can anyone give me some feedback as to which has the better program in terms of instructors and instruction and anything else that's important? Thanks a lot.

Also, I've come across the Writers' Insitute at the Graduate Center at CUNY. Does anyone know anything about it? It's run by Andre Aciman and lasts a year (instead of the usual two years for an MFA).


Pedro Eler


Oct 15, 2010, 12:05 PM

Post #1006 of 1018 (13283 views)
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     Re: [pongo] The Top 25 Underrated Creative Writing MFA Programs in the United States [In reply to]  

You guys, I am finishing up my manuscript, but yesterday I realized something that made me a little bit worried. The two stories I chose to be part of the manuscript are narrated in first person by a woman charachter, both older, and I was thinking that perhaps this is a little bit too strange, since I am a young guy of 23. I don't know, I feel like this might be just a little bit of prejudice from my part, I mean, woman have been wriiting male first person narratives and maybe even some men have done the opposite, even though I don't know of any. But do you think that this might be a problem for me when it comes to my application? Do you think that the people reading them might feel like 'what the heck does this guy know about woman or why isn't he writing first narrative with male charachters'? I don't know, it sounds odd, doesn't it? Or maybe it is just me being a little bit paranoid... you know what this process can do to people. LOL

Thanks so much for the help, I really need some piece of advice!


blob


Oct 15, 2010, 3:12 PM

Post #1007 of 1018 (13270 views)
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     Re: [Pedro Eler] The Top 25 Underrated Creative Writing MFA Programs in the United States [In reply to]  

It's not strange or odd or even terribly radical to write from another gender's point of view. Writers do it all the time. No one is going to frown on your application because of that.

Having said that, the reason people always say 'write what you know' is because that usually results in better writing. No one will not like the fact that you, a young male, have older female narrators, but they will dislike it if your character is not believable or well written. But if you feel like it's your best/strongest writing then it should absolutely be what you submit.


Pedro Eler


Oct 15, 2010, 4:36 PM

Post #1008 of 1018 (13253 views)
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     Re: [blob] The Top 25 Underrated Creative Writing MFA Programs in the United States [In reply to]  


In Reply To
It's not strange or odd or even terribly radical to write from another gender's point of view. Writers do it all the time. No one is going to frown on your application because of that.

Having said that, the reason people always say 'write what you know' is because that usually results in better writing. No one will not like the fact that you, a young male, have older female narrators, but they will dislike it if your character is not believable or well written. But if you feel like it's your best/strongest writing then it should absolutely be what you submit.



It's this exact notion of "write what you know" that worries me, blob. There might be a preconcieved notion from the people who will read my stories that I have no idea what I am writing about, therefore, it can't be goog, even subconsciously. I strongly believe in my stories, and I fell they are my very best at the moment, but there is always going to be a worry that the fact that I am writing from such a far point of view than my own might cause some of the professors in some universities to feel that I am alreadying biting off more than I can chew.

But ultimately I think you're right. It's all about believing in you work, and I believe in these two stories.

Thanks for the help!

And do you really know of a male author writing from a female point of view, in first person? I was trying to think of one, but couldn't...


blob


Oct 15, 2010, 4:54 PM

Post #1009 of 1018 (13248 views)
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     Re: [Pedro Eler] The Top 25 Underrated Creative Writing MFA Programs in the United States [In reply to]  

"Write what you know" is advice given to help us get in the game, it's not supposed to bind us. Go for it if they're your strongest.

Wally Lamb wrote "She's Come Undone" from the point of view of a young girl, not only that but the book dealt with a lot of issues surrounding sex and body image.

Arthur Golden wrote "Memoirs of a Geisha" from the point of view of a Japanese female, he is neither Japanese, nor a female.

There are others as well, but those are the two that immediately came to mind.


alamana
Jennifer Brown


Oct 15, 2010, 5:58 PM

Post #1010 of 1018 (13239 views)
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     Re: [Pedro Eler] The Top 25 Underrated Creative Writing MFA Programs in the United States [In reply to]  

There might be a preconcieved notion from the people who will read my stories that I have no idea what I am writing about, therefore, it can't be goog, even subconsciously. I strongly believe in my stories, and I fell they are my very best at the moment, but there is always going to be a worry that the fact that I am writing from such a far point of view than my own might cause some of the professors in some universities to feel that I am alreadying biting off more than I can chew. ...


Professors reading your sample aren't going to have any pre-conceived notions about anything. They will judge the work as it stands, and that is all. They probably won't even notice if you are male or female. I wouldn't worry about this.


Be regular and orderly in your life, that you may be violent and original in your work. -- Flaubert

http://www.jenniferkirkpatrickbrown.com


Pedro Eler


Oct 16, 2010, 12:02 AM

Post #1011 of 1018 (13207 views)
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     Re: [alamana] The Top 25 Underrated Creative Writing MFA Programs in the United States [In reply to]  

Memoirs of a gueisha!! Of course, I read that, how could I not remember it was written by a man. You're right blob, when you sit down to write there should be no holding back, if it is the voice of a woman that you hear than that's the point of view you adopt and then run with it.

And alamana, I guess you're right, thanks for the help!

This thing about the voices you allow into writing have always interested me, sometimes I try to run away from a particular voice but the story keeps bringing me back to it... it's why I find it really hard to discuss inspiration, cause I don't want to say it is the most important thing, I honestly believe that writing with discipline is more important... but there's something about inspiration... or how Toni Morrison wonderfully put it... muse. I guess every writer comes upon a muse and then you write... a muse, as Morrison puts it, is the inspiration embodied in a character, in a voice, in a person that exists in your mind.


charleneD


Nov 15, 2010, 12:04 AM

Post #1012 of 1018 (12830 views)
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     Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

 I am an unpublished fiction writer living in San Francisco, CA. I am currently a high school English teacher with a BA in English and an MA in Education with a teaching credential in English and Social Science. I'm trying to decide which schools and programs would be right for me or if I should apply for an MFA program at all.

I am considering pursuing my MFA because I have always wanted to write professionally but have found it difficult to seriously pursue this on my own without the structure, guidance, and accountability an MFA program offers. I tend to thrive in the "school" atmosphere and found, after having been unemployed for several months that just having "time off" is not sufficient and that even taking writing classes from local organizations was hugely helpful but not enough. That being said, funding is a major issue for me as I am still in debt from my MA in Education program and as a teacher haven't really made enough in the past 4 years of teaching to have much saved up. Also, I am looking for an MFA program that would not only make me a better writer and help me to pursue writing as a profession, but also one that would qualify and prepare me to teach writing or English at the college level, as I would also like to continue to teach.

In short, I'm looking for an MFA program that (1) offers generous funding (compared with the program and living costs) (2) is preferably located in or near a big city on the East or West coast (3) prepares and qualifies me to teach writing or English at the college/university level (4)provides guidance and structure for a fiction writer (5)has opportunities to teach writing/English within the university or connected programs (teaching preparation job placement assistance) (6) has an active writing community that's talented but not pretentious

Any advice or recommendations on what MFA programs to apply to?


kbritten

e-mail user

Nov 15, 2010, 7:46 AM

Post #1013 of 1018 (12812 views)
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     Re: [charleneD] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

Hi Charlene, I don't think it's a good idea to have others pick schools for you, since each school is going to appeal to you for various reasons. If you look at the old posts on this board, do a little research online, use Seth's website (if you google Suburban Ecstasies it's the first website), I think you'll be better off than relying on second-hand information. Good luck :)


bighark


Nov 15, 2010, 5:55 PM

Post #1014 of 1018 (12775 views)
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     Re: [charleneD] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

 
Charlene,

The job prospects for teachers of creative writing are grim. For a full-time, tenure-track position, you'll need to have a significant record of publication and a national reputation as a writer. Basically, two well-received books and several stories in prominent journals.

You can certainly teach at the college level with an MFA right out of grad school, but you'll be an adjunct instructor of composition at a community college or some other academic institution without a grad writing program to fill its classrooms with writing TAs.

The pay will be lousy, you wonít qualify for benefits, and you wonít be teaching creative writing. In other words, you can get the same job you're qualified to take now with your MA in education.

There are lots of good reasons for a writer to start an MFA, but job preparation isnít one of them.

Also a fiction writer, you should know that selling a story to even the most exclusive of short story markets barely amounts to a used car payment, and the typical book advance for a new work of fiction from a new author is a sobering four-figure deal.

Nobody from my MFA cohort makes a living as a writer right now. My classmates have won prestigious contests, published well-received collections and chapbooks, secured representation from good literary agents, and produce generally outstanding work, but none make enough from writing to sustain themselves on writing alone.

Just something to think about.


jaywalke


Nov 16, 2010, 10:55 AM

Post #1015 of 1018 (12734 views)
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     Re: [bighark] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
The job prospects for teachers of creative writing are grim. For a full-time, tenure-track position, you'll need to have a significant record of publication and a national reputation as a writer. Basically, two well-received books and several stories in prominent journals.


And then you'll have to beat out the scores of candidates with those exact same credentials who will apply for every job right alongside you.

Thanks for telling it like it is, bighark.


H_SCAR


Nov 16, 2010, 12:06 PM

Post #1016 of 1018 (12723 views)
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     Re: [jaywalke] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

Apologies if someone has already mentioned this, but it might be helpful to some to know of another possible approach to finding a tenure track job. I have a MA in English and am ABD for a PhD in Creative Writing (will be in hand in August). I applied to (and secured) a position of Writing Center Director, which also carries with it faculty status in the Department of English and the responsibility of teaching composition courses. Since I've continued to publish poetry and fiction, I've been led to believe I'll have a chance to pick up a Creative Writing course or two.

I bring this up because I think having an MFA or CW PhD can make you an attractive candidate for positions such as these. It's a foot in the door and gives you security as you work toward teaching the courses you really want to teach--and if you keep publishing, then it's only a matter of time before some of those courses start coming your way (or, on the strength of your publications, you get hired away).


elbodans


Dec 7, 2010, 12:55 PM

Post #1017 of 1018 (12541 views)
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     Re: [charleneD] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

Charlene...I'm curious if you've made a decision. This is my first post on here (ever), and I'm here because I have the same question and am dealing with almost exactly the same situation. I teach 8th grade and am in the process of applying to an MFA program. I doubt my ability to get in to a 'good' program (but doesn't everyone have that doubt?), but am not thrilled with the idea of spending hundreds of dollars applying to second-rate schools. I compiled a list and cannot figure out if I'm reaching to high or not high enough.


almondpunch


Jan 8, 2011, 4:03 AM

Post #1018 of 1018 (11538 views)
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     Re: [umass76] The Top 25 Underrated Creative Writing MFA Programs in the United States [In reply to]  


In Reply To
And how is a system where around 75% of applicants get in the first time around a "closed system"?


Is this still true? Where does this number come from? I had no idea this percentage was once so high.


(This post was edited by almondpunch on Jan 8, 2011, 4:06 AM)

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