Monsooned Out writes...
I discovered your blog while websearching for information on the Iowa Writers' Workshop. My questions are specifically about that program.
1) I'm the author of a handful of paperback original SF&F books. Should I conceal this in my application or brag about it?
2) I'm in my thirties and have worked in an Asian country as a translator and interpreter for the last five years. While I'm an extremely proficient translator, I have no interest whatsoever in translating fiction professionally. But if I pretended that I did, would that improve my chances of getting in and getting financial aid?
3) Can you get away with fictionalizing MFA applications, anyway? And if so do you have any interesting examples of people who have successfully done so?
MO, I don't know whether you can get away with fictionalizing MFA applications, but I do know that you shouldn't. I don't know what the legal consequences would be, but there's no sense in risking them.
And my personal opinion: it's a bush league move.
Can't you simply talk about being a translator without promising to translate fiction professionally? I don't see how translating will help with financial aid, but I do know that if you promised to do it, and received aid, you'd have to do it.
If I were you, I'd talk about the SF&F books briefly. It's interesting. But I'd be sure to indicate how you're turning in a different direction now (if that's true).
UPDATE: It seems that a number of our readers are strongly urging this person NOT to mention those SF&F publications. Their insights are worth reading in the comments section.
I don't know if any of this matters one way or the other, MO. Your writing sample will get you in or out. As I always say about the personal statement: Come across as an interesting, nice person who plays well with others, and come across as a person serious about your writing.
And be honest too. I thought that went without saying, though now I've said it. Rock on.