Thursday, September 20, 2007

Plan B: In the event of total rejection...: (

Sonia asked:

Well, my question might come across as odd. I'm planning on applying to several MFA programs this year scattered all over the country--California, Texas, Indiana, but being realistic, I've also been thinking of what to do if I don't get in.One idea that I came up with was possibly moving to a community with a strong literary scene, in terms of events, workshops, etc, where the cost of living is reasonable, aka, not NYC. Any suggestions or ideas?

I like your idea. The "little" city that immediately came to my mind is Savannah, Georgia. This city is known for its southern charm. The literary arts (and arts in general) are alive and kicking. This is due to the presence of the Savannah College of Art and Design, which coincidentally offers the CW M.F.A. The city also has several other small colleges. I've heard that the cost of living in Georgia is attractive.

22 comments:

Vince said...

The Savannah College of Art and Design offers what they call a M.F.A. in Professional Writing. Apologies.

Sonia said...

Savannah's charm is legendary, and I've always heard that it's a beautiful city. Didn't know that it had a strong lit/cultural scene though. Will look into it! Thanks Vince!

mshea said...

Savannah is fantastic. I lived their two years and still miss it. There are readings all over the place, writers everywhere. I met enough writers -- after about a year there -- to start a Moby-Dick reading group. It's that kind of place ...

zooeyincharge said...

atlanta, too, for that matter. cheap housing and growing lit/arts scene.

Robert said...

Buy a $26,000 car and drive around MFA campuses heckling the students in their poverty. :)

Vince said...

Any place that inspires "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" should have enough going on to keep any writer happy. I also thought of Santa Fe, New Mexico because it has a reputation for attracting this generation's wanna-be bohemians--and non-creative people like to visit Santa Fe to buy what's the coolest and cutting edge on their way back from burning man.

Jason Boog said...

Most people wouldn't count it, but I think Brooklyn deserves to be on this list. I live there on a writer's salary, and I've watched plenty of friends scrape by too. The community can't be beat for proximity to good schools and the publishing world, and there is a different reading series every night.

Amy said...

I just moved to Atlanta, and so far I'm lukewarm on the literary scene here. It seems to lack a center--or maybe I'm just too new. Meanwhile, may I suggest Asheville, NC? I lived there for several years and really loved it. It's very community oriented, and many great authors come through. Cheap enough to live there. And the MFA program at Warren Wilson is right next door.

Abby QH said...

zooeyincharge, please, tell us more about this lit. scene in atlanta!

(as someone living in the ATL, i would love to know...)

michael.whitaker said...

My three reccomendations:

1. Tuscaloosa. I hear it is swarming with writers and readings and anything you could want as a writer/artist. Not only that, you would be able to be somewhat involved with a very good program or at least the MFAers in it. Cost of lving: Incredible.

2. Greensboro. One of my professors told me it was just as good as Tuscaloosa, but I found that it was on Forbes Top 40 Cities for singles and twentysomethings. Great place to be, I enjoyed all of my time there. Cool town. Cheap as well. There's this one place called Yum Yums right next to the UNCG campus that makes great hot dogs if you are into that kind of thing. I am and I miss those hot dogs.

3. I would think Athens is great to. I hear the lit/arts scene is pretty good and it's very close to the ATL. Feed off of those perks, too. Check it out.

Hope I could be of some help.

dylan said...

I think that this question is a very good one, not only as a plan B, but as an important consideration in itself. Yes, you may not get into an MFA program, (and rejection isn't the only reason you may not go).

At some point, school or not, you have to get on with a life as a writer. Some places are more conducive to that sort of thing than others.

I've always found the newspaper to be a reliable measure of a place's literary climate. When I lived in Boston, there were literary readings and events all the time, by the dozens! It was great.

Baltimore, on the other hand, may have been great for Poe and Fitzgerald, but it doesn't seem to be as active as Boston. Maybe I'm missing out on something?

zooeyincharge said...

ok, i got this late in time but on atlanta (where i did, granted, live years ago but still know some things):
check out readings open to public - think some are - at emory. their creative writing dept (including screenwriting) is growing.
there's an AWP Conference at an Atlanta hotel, i think - a writers conference or meet-the-authors (check month) my friend liked
again, housing (years ago) was very cheap
need i mention i live in washington dc where it is not!
if you need to people-watch (always free) - little 5 points area
good luck

Bolivia Red said...

Denver is a beautiful place to be and offers the Lighthouse Writers Workshop--an independent writing program with classes led by those with MFAs and PhDs in creative writing. They count Tobias Wolff amoung their faculty, as well as visiting writers and instructors. It's not an MFA but it is for serious writers.
http://www.lighthousewriters.com/

Denver is home to the Tattered Cover Bookstore, which has an active literary events series and lots of big name authors come through there. University Denver has a creative writing program (PhD only) with a reading series. Denver is spitting distance (but 45 minutes by car) to Boulder, Golden, and a little further to Fort Collins and Colorado Springs, all with literary happenings.

Vince said...

Boston is ground central for the literary life. It's great if you can afford it and cost of living is not an issue for you. There is a long list of outstanding academic institutions in Boston. My sis went to B.C. Go Eagles!

Sonia said...

Oh my God, what incredible choices! Thanks everyone. It's a writer's top ten list of best places to create and live. How wonderful!

And Dylan, thanks for the great tip. I hadn't thought of reviewing a city's newspaper listings as a guide to what the lit scene might be like. Thanks.

Ashley said...

If I don't get into grad school this year my husband and I are either going to move to Urbana, IL or Ann Arbor, MI for the year to do something very similar.

I'd highly recommend against moving to Boston. I lived there for three years. Sure it's a literary center, but the weather is awful and it's so expensive you'd be working all the time just to live.

Good luck!

walden said...

I am from Asheville, NC and I can say that it will inspire you to write because of the lovely nature that surrounds the city.

Jennifer said...

Well, I recently lived in Tuscaloosa for four years (as an MFA student). Though readings are plentiful and the MFA crowd wonderfully open and inviting, the city itself can be unpleasant. Yes, the cost of living is low, but finding work may be a challenge. Keep in mind that this is a small place with not a lot more than the university going on. I recommend the program enthusiastically, but I would not move to Tuscaloosa blindly.

Michael Mlekoday said...

Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN. If you can handle hot & humid summers and cold & snowy winters, it's the place to be. Graywolf Press, New Rivers Press, and Milkweed Editions, three of the strongest independent publishers in the industry, are located here. Cost of living is pretty decent. We have the most live theater in the nation (aside from NYC). There's a great mix of natural beauty (Mississippi River, forests, lakes, etc) and big city stuff.

In the heart of downtown Minneapolis there's this lovely little place called Open Book/The Loft--they have plenty of readings and workshops there all the time. There's readings all over town. Great music scene, as well. Really, Minnesota's got it all.

Sonia said...

Well I live in Florida so I'm used to hot & humid summers and I grew up in NYC so I'm used to cold snowy winters.

Thanks for the advice! I'll add St. Paul to my list to research, Denver too since I know I could easily get an internal job transfer there.

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