Monthly Archives: March 2010

Looking at other MFA options

Although I haven’t officially received notification of rejection, I know its coming.  Therefore, I’m locked on to applying to low residency schools and a few city schools.  I didn’t want the city experience for graduate school but, this time around, I would be open to applying to New School University and Brooklyn College.  These are the only schools that I would be content and satisfied with attending in the city.

When I first made the decision to apply for an MFA program, I looked at schools in New York mostly – Columbia University, NYU, New School University, Brooklyn College, Adelphi, and even Sarah Lawrence.  But I only visited four New York City  schools due to convenience.  Those were Columbia, New School, NYU, and Brooklyn College.

Brooklyn College was my first stop.  The campus was gorgeous, the commute from my neighborhood was a cool 50 minutes, and the autumn weather made the visit even more pleasant.  I visited during a visitor’s weekend so the campus was bustling with young high school students eager to learn about Brooklyn College.  Being one of the few graduate students visiting the school, I wanted to learn more about the program than the campus.  I did take a tour with prospective undergraduate students which was cute because I thought about myself as an undergrad and how excited I was when I first started college.  The most salient feature, for me, was the library.  The different places to nap, write, and study in the facility entranced me and I fell in love with this place.  I knew if I applied and accepted, I would live at the library.  But I digress.

When I finally visited the department, there was only person there; she was very friendly in discussing the program to me and another prospective student.  The MFA writing program is part of the English department which makes me wonder how much concentration on craft there will be versus emphasis on English literature.  I also feel that I’m more versed about the traits I’m looking for in a program than two years ago. 

At the time, I wasn’t interested in applying to this program because the education provides the opportunity for those interested in teaching to obtain a position either in the school or elsewhere.  Now that my priorities have changed, I may be applying for next fall.  All in all, a great program and campus so this school is on my radar.

My second stop was New School University.  I absolutely fell in love with the faculty and the community they discussed during the information session.  Additionally, I appreciated the insight that the currently matriculated students and alumni provided for prospective students like myself.  What was it about the program that I liked?  Every faculty member was genuine about the kind of support they provided their students and the alumni also spoke highly of everyone.  The location is also very convenient as well.  After I left the session, I was completely enrolled in the possibility of attending the school.

My third stop was NYU.  Being an alumni of the undergraduate program, I didn’t graduate with high opinions of the school.  Perhaps it was a mistake to attend a school in a city I’m familiar with because I’m a native but I felt like a complete outsider the whole time.  I’m aware this factor had to do with the fact that I was a commuter all four years so I can’t necessarily fault the school for my experience.  But because of that, I walked in completely skeptical but still open to learning about the program.  The director spent a big portion of the information session plugging all the visiting faculty that’s well-known which is nice but not beneficial if I don’t a) know who the frak they are and b) know if they will be a good instructor or not.  I did like the prospects of studying abroad with the program but my heart wasn’t interested in attending NYU for grad school. 

My last stop was Columbia University.  The information session also had me excited about applying to the school.  I think the most interesting part of the session was the opportunity to talk about the program without the director present.  He spoke and answered questions or concerns prospective students had, which was effective, at the beginning of the session but the insider’s view from the current students put everything in focus.  There were students from different sections of the globe, two from each concentration in the writing program, to discuss their experience at the university.  They talked about the lack of financial aid.  One woman said, “If you are attending Columbia University, expect to be in debt. That’s the bottom line.”  Which is why all of the students were competing to obtain a teaching assistantship because there is tuition remission, if I’m correct or there is more financial aid.  I wasn’t thinking about financial aid, only thinking about how I’d mix in with the folks at the school.  I didn’t apply because I wasn’t interested in staying in NYC but maybe next fall?  I’m not really sure if this school is on my radar.  It’s super competitive and the thought of more crazy debt makes my stomach clench into a ball.  Not sure if I’m going to apply there but I won’t rule this out yet.

I wasn’t interested in applying to out of city schools like on Long Island or further than Manhattan at the time because I thought of my commute. 

As for low residency programs, I’m slowly researching by using the database on the Poets & Writers website.  I need to take a few hours and narrow my decision to what program would work for me.  Once I’m there, I’ll be more focused.  Especially after I receive my last two notifications. 

I’m on the right path; positivity is key.  Many prospects afoot.  I’m excited!

Library Thing

I discovered this neat website that allows readers to catalogue their books online – like a library!  The website is literally called Library Thing

The concept is simple – you add your books online that you own are reading, can write a review for it, read reviews, connect with other readers, connect with authors, and then some.  There are other websites like The Book Reporter and Good Reads that have the similar concept but I like Library Thing because of the Early Reviewer section.

This feature provides readers like you, the opportunity to receive free books prior to the publication release.  These books are distributed by the publishing houses but there are limited copies of each book and many requests.  This is like a lottery; you can request more than one free book but there’s no guarantee that you will receive it.  I requested a few myself for the first time so I’ll see if I “win” a book.  Additionally, readers and authors give away books in the section called Member Giveaway.  The books are still free but sometimes the author or person requests a review upon finishing the novel.  It’s not always required but this is gently recommended.  Not bad for a free book.

I wanted to share this website because I enjoy it and I want others to enjoy it as well!

Check it out!

Two remaining schools

Last night, I received a rejection email from San Francisco State University.  I would have received this email before but this freak (me) actually misspelled my last name on the damn online application.  I kept receiving emails insisting my application was incomplete, which was untrue.  I got on the horn last week to remedy the situation and things were fixed.  In a week, I was rejected.  Now I’m waiting on the remaining two so I can get on with my life.

I researched further into the Writer’s Institute and actually had a conversation with the director of the program.  This certificate is not for folks still trying to learn the craft; this program is specifically geared to those who may or may not have degrees, are skilled, may or may not have been published but need the guidance from editors and how to get their work out there.  I’m not there yet.  Not even close!  But at least I know that’s an option.  Additionally, they don’t have financial aid for the one year certificate program.  Their tuition may not seem like much for one year but for someone without that steady income, that’s a big chunk of change to shell out that I cannot afford.  I won’t be applying but at least I’m thinking about options.  I see myself possibly being a workshop instructor or working in publishing – basically anything with words.  The difference here is that publishing is about the business of selling words while being an instructor helps the writer improve creatively.  I have to decide which tract to take.  The signs will show me and then I will follow them.

Surprisingly, I have an inkling that USF might accept me but its a hunch that I don’t think exists – could be complete wishful thinking.

Meanwhile, I’ll be writing, reading, and waiting…

Writing Group and things

My memoir writing class is over and I’m going to miss my Tuesdays with my instructor.  However, because the class’s chemistry worked so well, we have decided to create our own writing group which I cannot wait for!  I’ve never been a part of a writing group before so this will be a new thing.  Not only will I be motivated to continue writing after the class is over but I’ll be surrounded by writers that are as dedicated to their craft as well.  This is exactly the kind of group that will be helpful during my final three rejections (I know what’s up, I’m not gonna front) which will be a reminder of how much my writing has grown since I applied (which feels like it was ages ago). 

On the rejection front, remember the classmate that was accepted to the Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa?  It will sound like I’m hating on her (which I’m not because I didn’t want to apply to Iowa – the frak am I gonna do out there anyway?),  but she shared with us how the school reneged on the funding they promised her which is messed up.  What I don’t understand is how such a reputable school known for providing full funding during the three year MFA program would pull such a stunt?  Does this happen every year and is this a ploy to have her reject their offer?  I would hate to be in the position to pass up an opportunity to work in a concentrated environment because I couldn’t afford it.  I want this to work out for her because its the University of Iowa – a really good school and if she was accepted, then her writing will only get that much better. 

As for me, I haven’t heard word from any schools.  I called up both San Diego University and San Francisco State University which both told me they don’t know when the Creative Writing department will start notifying students.  I told the Admission folks, “Can you just tell me if I’m in or out so I can move on with my life?”  They laughed me off and apologized for not knowing.  I hate this waiting.  Luckily, my eventful birthday month (coming to a close soon) has kept me in high spirits as well as planning a vacation in May and visiting a friend of over a decade in Dallas.  I can’t complain; my life has been effervescent and gleeful since the beginning of the year.  Yes, I’ve had my ups and downs (we all do) but I’m not depressed and I’m still writing, which is very important.

I look forward to my writing group and my future because man, the light is so bright, it’s hurting my eyes!

Writer’s Book of Days

I bought this amazing book by Judy Reeves called A Writer’s Book of Days which is like The Artist’s Way for writers.  The chapters contain inspirational quotes and the most salient part of this book?  There’s a writing prompt for each day. 

For example, on March 22nd the prompt is: Write about taking the long way around.

This book has kept me writing every day and churning out new pieces of work for fiction and non-fiction.  I am completely entranced and enrolled in doing every (most) prompt of this book.  I have already missed a few days but every day will be new, which I appreciate and enjoy. 

There are also many websites with writing prompts which I have listed for your convenience below:

Writer’s Digest Blog

Writer’s Digest Writing Prompts

Creative Writing Prompts

Writing Prompts Links

 

The internet is my kryptonite so for me, I find that writing using the simple tools of pen and paper work for me best.  Sure, I can type very quickly but I become distracted easily (my putzing around problem) so the less distraction, the better.  Writing for ten to fifteen minutes each day has made the future look much clearer for me in my writing life. 

I can’t wait to see what I do next!

On to writing I go…

Cherry

Author: Mary Carr

Published by: Viking (2000)

Mary Carr’s memoir about adolescence and her teenage years completely enrapture the reader.  The story is at times compelling, harrowing, and also entertaining. Continue reading

Three left…

Yesterday afternoon I received a rejection letter from the University of Arizona.  Every time I receive a letter from a school, I assume “rejection.”  But here’s the thing: I’m already past this.  To me, I’ve already been rejected from the rest of the schools (even though one school keeps sending me incomplete application status, its so frakking annoying!) and I’m fine with that.

I was able to read my submission with the same attention a department member would and its not MFA material at this time.  I accept that and I’m glad that I can recognize that I have room to improve.  My writing has improved and flourished since I applied which is apparent with the work I’ve been creating lately (memoir mostly). 

I’m already looking into a certificate program at the Graduate’s Center called The Writer’s Institute which is an intense one year program.  I read about the program on the Mediabistro website.  They call themselves the Un-MFA program.  Application deadline is April 15th so I need to get up on it. 

My head is in a good place now.  With this writer’s institute, what I have to decide now is if I want to apply to take courses in fiction or non-fiction.  My heart knows what it wants so I’ll follow wherever it takes me.

Bring on the letters, for crying out loud, so I can move on with my life! 😛