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dahosek
D. A. Hosek
e-mail user

Jun 13, 2014, 1:59 PM

Post #2626 of 2662 (6534 views)
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Re: [writerle] Looking for Grads & Students of Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

On the critical essay front, my advice is to figure out what you'd like to focus on during your first term, direct your annotations in that direction in the second term (and the third term as you work on the essay) and you end up with a lot of it already written or at least sketched out.

-dh


http://dahosek.com


renila


Jun 13, 2014, 9:51 PM

Post #2627 of 2662 (6520 views)
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Re: [dahosek] Looking for Grads & Students of Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks, folks. Much appreciated. Trying not to let this process drive me nuts.

And great advice on the critical essay, Dahosek. That makes it seem much more doable.


LMC


Jul 6, 2014, 10:27 AM

Post #2628 of 2662 (5451 views)
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Re: [renila] Looking for Grads & Students of Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi there,I'm in the dual (F,NF) at Bennington.I just sent a longer pm, but I want to let you know that there are writers working on novels and book length nf projects, and sometimes there have been workshops specifically for longer lengths (although not in the last few terms). I would say that subject matter is wide open, so long as the writing is literary, and I'm sure that this is the same for most other programs, as well. Our annotations are informal, so I wouldn't worry about them. They are mainly to get down on paper your thoughts about the readings you are doing and how they relate to your writing. The papers can take a number of forms, ranging from personal essay to full-on MLA style research, but frankly, not many people chose the latter route. I was out of school quite a while and it was no problem. In all of the academic work, you can be quite creative and it's really about what is going to benefit your own writing. Best of luck!


raintree
Sandra Ludwig

Jul 29, 2014, 12:45 PM

Post #2629 of 2662 (4688 views)
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Re: [s0ckeyeus] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, folks, here I am again.

I got into the MFA program I mentioned a few months back.

For the most part, I enjoyed my first residency (it had its low moments, though). I did end up staying on campus, and that worked out very well for me. I didn't have the distractions of home and was able to solely concentrate on my writing and assignments. However, when it was over, I didn't start writing like a maniac, and the magic of meeting my cohort and hanging out etc. quickly vanished.

Right now, I'm in the second week of classes, and I'm thinking of quitting. I have anxiety and depression issues and the anxiety is making it difficult for me to do the assignments. Not only that, I have great resistance. It's like, "I don't WANNA do them."

I was never sure if applying was the right decision. My tuition is free, and I have downtime at work, so I figured I could get all my schoolwork done at work. Now I'm not so sure, and I find it very difficult to work at home (for various reasons). I'm not sure I want to dedicate the necessary time to getting this degree. I'm not sure it means enough to me. I don't have any desire to teach, and I seriously doubt I could ever write a book.

I do a lot of things for fun (mixed media art, making jewelry, keeping a journal) but I got the impression in residency that writing is not a hobby. That you had better be DEAD SERIOUS about this.

I am trying to take it one day at a time, one step at a time, and it's still overwhelming me. My husband's advice is to stick it out. He pointed out how happy I was at residency, and how excited I seemed to be about the program. Sure, I was excited--until I saw how much work it was going to be.

Any thoughts? I know this is a bit fragmented. I'd be glad to explain more if you like.


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Jul 29, 2014, 6:33 PM

Post #2630 of 2662 (4664 views)
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Re: [raintree] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

If you aren't committed to doing the work required to get the degree, drop out now and save everyone the trouble. There is an enormous effort involved in getting an MFA, and if you don't want to do it, don't.


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/


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
e-mail user

Jul 29, 2014, 10:04 PM

Post #2631 of 2662 (4657 views)
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Re: [raintree] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

raintree,

It's really hard for someone else to tell you to stay or leave the program. Only you know if it's something you want to do.

But I do think you may have identified why you feel so ambivalent. You say that you got the impression at residency that writing is not a hobby, that you had better be dead serious about this. And I think that's true.

The MFA is a long, hard slog for 2-3 years, requiring lots of hours in front of a computer, lots of reading, and lots of research. You will be expected to write pages and pages and revise those pages. This discipline isn't intended as some sort of punishment. Instead, it's a training ground, a place where you can explore your talents, experiment a bit with craft and form, and refine that craft as you go. It's also a situation that teaches you how to think like a professional writer.

When I started the program at Vermont, I had been writing sporadically. The very idea of reading and writing 25 hours a week (the expected allotment of time) was terrifying to me, but I thought I could finesse it, especially the reading. It didn't take long for me to discover that the 25-hour a week estimate was accurate. No finessing possible. I scrambled to establish a routine that would meet the needs of the program. And the result was that I suddenly began to think of myself as a "working writer." I treated my writing like a job. I showed up every day, put in the hours to get the work done, and focused on making my writing better.

For me, the goal of college teaching was secondary. I wanted the MFA because I wanted to be in an environment where I could receive one-on-one coaching/teaching from experienced writers whose work I admired. I wanted, more than anything, to become a better writer. And I was dead serious about making that happen.

I would advise you to talk about your concerns with your advisor. He or she may already sense that you aren't committed to the requirements of the program. Or, your advisor may feel that you're simply a bit overwhelmed and need a little extra space to process everything. But don't suffer in silence, and don't drive yourself crazy over this. Talk to your advisor first. Then make a decision. But remember, most people pursuing the MFA are dead serious about their writing. If they are like me, they didn't have a scholarship or funding (my low-res program didn't offer this at the time I was there; it's changed since then), and that MFA was expensive, time-consuming, and demanding. I loved my time at Vermont and wouldn't trade it for anything. But that's just me.

Jeanne


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


raintree
Sandra Ludwig

Jul 31, 2014, 11:26 AM

Post #2632 of 2662 (4567 views)
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Re: [jlgwriter] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I have calmed down a bit since I posted. I haven't spoken to my advisor yet, but did talk to several other students in the program (mostly "upperclassmen"). They have assured me that this type of freaking out is normal, and that it's even OK to not want to do my homework.

You did touch on something very important, though. I guess I did think I would "finesse" the work. My work situation is really odd. I work in a library and there is not enough work. I'm sure that sounds bizarre and even enviable. However, there are only so many rounds of Scrabble and Candy Crush Saga that one can play. While I'm allowed to use the computer, I cannot have anything with sound playing, my laptop lacks the proper software for Bluetooth, and I am, quite honestly, bored to death. I wanted to do something worthwhile with my life (my entering the program coincided with a Big Birthday). I've always liked writing, and did it professionally for over 10 years. Outside of my paid employment, though, my writing schedule has been sporadic, as you said of your own experience.

I'm not sure where I am going from here. I'm going to try and finish the semester, and probably will meet with my advisor, or talk to a couple of the instructors. Everyone in the program is very approachable and supportive.


raintree
Sandra Ludwig

Aug 25, 2014, 1:45 PM

Post #2633 of 2662 (3377 views)
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Re: [raintree] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hello, I'm back.

It's a month later, and I'm seriously considering dropping out of my low-residency MFA program. To be honest, I just don't like it. It's more work than I thought it would be, I don't really care for distance learning (something I didn't realize before) and honestly? I'm not sure I have the driving passion necessary to be a writer.

I'm wondering if there's anyone else on these boards who has left an MFA program and would be willing to post/discuss it here.

I'm feeling very much alone. I have not talked to my advisor (I don't actually have one; there's just the director of the program till we are assigned mentors next term). I know they're going to try and talk me into staying, as they have a vested interest in keeping students in the program. So...


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Aug 25, 2014, 2:11 PM

Post #2634 of 2662 (3375 views)
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Re: [raintree] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

There's an important moral principle that I learned a decade or so ago: I'm too old for this shit.

If it isn't working for you, and you feel it isn't going to start working for you real soon, don't keep doing it. If there isn't something in it that makes you happy, don't keep doing it. If you don't see some benefit at the end of all the hateful work, don't keep doing it.

You know how they say, "A quitter never wins"? They lie. Sometimes you win by quitting. Just make sure you want out of the game, because if you quit now there's a good chance you'll never even try to get in again.


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/


s0ckeyeus


Aug 26, 2014, 12:32 PM

Post #2635 of 2662 (3307 views)
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Re: [raintree] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

It doesn't get much easier post-MFA. Writing is a lot of work, additional work that you don't get paid for most of the time (if you ever get paid for it). If you aren't committed to putting in the effort, then an MFA might not be worth it for you. A degree won't suddenly make you a good writer, and it won't magically free up your schedule. It's hard out here for a pimp.


raintree
Sandra Ludwig

Aug 26, 2014, 1:12 PM

Post #2636 of 2662 (3302 views)
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Re: [s0ckeyeus] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

pongo--Yes, I've been saying that very thing to myself a lot (as I have just turned 50).

s0ckeyeus--I wrote professionally for over 10 years, and man, the amount of work I did was nothing like what I am doing now, which feels like tooth-pulling quite a lot. I'm very surprised, actually. Sure, I had difficult things to write, and I had struggles. But it didn't feel like this at all.


s0ckeyeus


Aug 26, 2014, 1:47 PM

Post #2637 of 2662 (3300 views)
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Re: [raintree] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

It's a different kind of writing and a different kind of hard work, for sure.


Villette
User Villette

Aug 30, 2014, 11:00 PM

Post #2638 of 2662 (3075 views)
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Summer 2014 Acceptances and Decisions/ Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi everyone --
I've been pouring over this thread for the past few months as I wondered about, then seriously considered, then actually applied to LRMFA programs. It's been so helpful. There isn't anything else out there that's near as good a resource -- or if there is, I haven't found it.

Anyway, in the end I applied to three programs. Just in the past 48 hours I completed applications to Bennington and Warren Wilson (due date 9/1). The third program I applied to is VCFA and I'm thrilled to say that I got a call offering me a spot there last week. (VCFA due date was 2 weeks ago).

From everything I've heard and read, all three programs are terrific. I have no doubt that I could be happy at any of them and I don't have a preference at the moment. That being said, if I'm lucky enough to be offered a spot at either of the other two programs, I want to be able to make a decision pretty quickly. I gather that the schools ask for an answer pretty quickly.

The structure, curriculum and requirements seem pretty similar. I won't be looking for a teaching position when I finish so I'm taking that out of the mix. So... after reading through all the information people have contributed to this thread over the past 15 years, here's my list of the factors I *think* I should be thinking about:

Faculty:
--quality of the teaching
--are there particular faculty members who might be an especially good fit?
--accessibility
Community:
--are the other writers supportive and engaged both during the residencies and between them?
Cost:
--tuition and travel
Residency:
--dorm, food, weather, etc.

What other things should I be thinking about? I'd love to hear from graduates or current students -- of any program, not just these three. I'd also love to hear from others who are applying. How are you planning to make you're decision?

I realize that this discussion gets rehashed regularly (like every round of admissions?) so apologies to those of you who are long time participants. On the other hand, the world of LRMFAs is growing and changing all the time.

Thanks in advance for all your glimmers, nuggets and massive boulders of wisdom.


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Aug 31, 2014, 12:37 AM

Post #2639 of 2662 (3069 views)
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Re: [Villette] Summer 2014 Acceptances and Decisions/ Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

You've probably seen everything I have to say about the pleasures of Montpelier earlier in this thread, but I'll add this: there is nothing quite like a Vermont winter, unless you're coming from Quebec.

I loved my winter residencies in Vermont, but not everyone thinks of overnight lows in the range of -20F as fun.


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/


Villette
User Villette

Aug 31, 2014, 7:49 AM

Post #2640 of 2662 (3035 views)
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Re: [pongo] Summer 2014 Acceptances and Decisions/ Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Pongo -- I am a cold weather wimp, despite being an almost life-long new englander, but... on the other hand, there's that whole "it's-effing-20-below" camaraderie aspect. (And then being able to brag about it.)
I did read your posts on Montpelier. It seems like a great little city (town?). I stopped there briefly with my family this summer on our way further north. Three independent bookstores in a place that small? That's impressive.


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Aug 31, 2014, 10:13 AM

Post #2641 of 2662 (3015 views)
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Re: [Villette] Summer 2014 Acceptances and Decisions/ Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Yeah, I remember that there were people who would put on their coats when it was only ten below.


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/


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
e-mail user

Aug 31, 2014, 10:25 AM

Post #2642 of 2662 (3012 views)
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Re: [Villette] Summer 2014 Acceptances and Decisions/ Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Ha, I remember I was so worried about the weather at my first VCFA residency. But when I arrived, it was in the 30s, positively "balmy," according to the locals. Coming from Phoenix, I thought, This isn't too bad. Then it snowed one night. The next morning the sun was shining, and everything glittered under a coat of two feet of snow. Gorgeous--until I stepped outside. Temps had dropped to 14 below!

Welcome to the real Vermont winter!

Montpelier is a charming town, btw. The college is at the top of a hill about four blocks from downtown. Montpelier has a lot of neat goodies, including several indie bookstores, good restaurants, lovely coffee shops, and a great co-op.

Jeanne


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


Insomniacish
Kathleen Crowley

Aug 31, 2014, 11:41 AM

Post #2643 of 2662 (3009 views)
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Re: [jlgwriter] Summer 2014 Acceptances and Decisions/ Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Jeanne - Montpelier seems great. And I gather from your earlier posts that you were really happy w Vermont, is that right? As for the weather, it makes for a good story now, right?


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
e-mail user

Aug 31, 2014, 1:14 PM

Post #2644 of 2662 (3002 views)
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Re: [Insomniacish] Summer 2014 Acceptances and Decisions/ Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Definitely happy with Vermont. I learned so much, and the dividends of that experience continue to pay off. I adjusted to the bitterly cold winters. The summers were beautiful, though.

Jeanne


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


Villette
User Villette

Sep 6, 2014, 11:49 AM

Post #2645 of 2662 (2648 views)
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Re: [jlgwriter] Summer 2014 Acceptances and Decisions/ Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Jeanne --
Thanks -- I've heard nothing but good things about Vermont. I think it's very likely I'll end up there in January.... and then when I come home it will seem so nice and warm here (Boston). ;)


Villette
User Villette

Sep 10, 2014, 3:03 PM

Post #2646 of 2662 (2260 views)
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Re: [jlgwriter] Summer 2014 Acceptances and Decisions/ Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Jeanne and Pongo -- wanted to let you know that I was offered a spot at Warren Wilson and after talking it over w my husband and writer friends, decided to take it. I'm sorry to miss out on the VCFA experience, esp the community, which sounds fantastic. As I said earlier, I'm pretty sure I would be happy at any of the places where I applied. My only gripe with the VCFA program (gripe is an overstatement -- let's say drawback) was the Dec start. The January dates at WW are much easier for me and my family than starting in Dec.

Anyhow, would still love to connect with others who've been through or are applying for the low-res experience. I'm really excited to get started.


renila


Sep 10, 2014, 5:08 PM

Post #2647 of 2662 (2231 views)
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Re: [Villette] Summer 2014 Acceptances and Decisions/ Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Congrats, Villette!

And happy writing...


Villette
User Villette

Sep 11, 2014, 9:57 AM

Post #2648 of 2662 (2173 views)
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Re: [renila] Summer 2014 Acceptances and Decisions/ Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks, Renila. I'm so excited. I feel like I'm 6 -- which is quite a stretch.


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
e-mail user

Sep 11, 2014, 10:02 AM

Post #2649 of 2662 (2172 views)
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Re: [Villette] Summer 2014 Acceptances and Decisions/ Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Congrats! Warren Wilson is a great program. I'm sure you'll have a great time and meet some fantastic people. Does Antonya Nelson still teach at WW? I took a workshop from her a few years ago. She was a wonderful instructor.

Jeanne


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


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Sep 11, 2014, 10:15 AM

Post #2650 of 2662 (2168 views)
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Re: [jlgwriter] Summer 2014 Acceptances and Decisions/ Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, Warren Wilson is first rate. Did you know it used to be the Goddard program?


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/

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