Friday, January 08, 2010

Another New Mailbag, January 8, 2010

Because of the high volume, I'm going to endeavor to update the mailbag after 200 comments -- only one page of scrolling. Feel free to email me if I miss that comment point.

222 comments:

1 – 200 of 222   Newer›   Newest»
Sam said...

All my apps are in (actually, have been for almost two weeks), and I've done my best not to read over anything I sent in. I'll wait until AFTER the results come in to do that.

Pretty close to the last minute, I ended up cutting any safety schools. I've been out of undergrad for almost three years now, and I have a reasonably well playing job (heck, having a job at all right now sometimes seems to be pretty lucky), so I decided to focus only on top tier programs with full funding.

While I think I have a reasonable shot to get in somewhere, I don't think I'm close to a lock anywhere. I'm taking the approach that if I don't get in, I can always try again next year. That's reduced my stress level a lot for the whole process.

frankish said...

I think I mentioned in the last mailbag that my GRE scores came through. A couple of people posted that they hadn't taken them yet. I think you can just relax about them...there is really nothing to study for the Verbal or Analytical Writing sections, and the math section probably doesn't mean much for MFA applicants.

My experience was pretty funny, though. Although I'd been thinking about MFA programs last December, I didn't actually look at any of the applications until the week of Christmas, and it hadn't even occurred to me that I'd have to take the GRE. So I took the GRE the day before Christmas on two or three days notice. The only center open was in Gardena, south of Los Angeles, in a pretty seedy building directly across the street from the Hustler Casino.

I hadn't realized the tests are computerized (last time I took the GRE, 20 years ago in college, it was still no. 2 pencils). So they lock me in this booth with fifteen other people, all coughing and hacking because it's flu season, to take the test. There were headphones on the desk to drown out all of the moaning and mouth-breathing, but I was afraid I'd catch lice if I put them on. The supervisor and her girlfriend are watching us through some bullet-proof plexiglass windows, and it feels like I'm in a police station. They wouldn't even let me out to take a piss during the test.

Anyway, long story short, my GRE scores were actually ready in a week (Jan 1), although I still haven't received my report in the mail...I think they try to sucker you into a $12 fee to hear your score on the phone. I called to ask one of the representatives where my report was (since the online tracker said reports had been sent to schools), and she said she could see the scores but couldn't tell me unless I used the $12 option.

Turns out I've gotten dummer, two! My math score went down 80 points and my verbal score went down 50. At least I aced the analytical writing section, which means I can still write (idiotic analyses of stupid, generic issues).

And then $25 per report??? What a racket! :D

salt said...

here's a question i posted before i saw that there was a new mailbag:

i'm curious to know if anyone is applying to schools that aren't included in seth's rankings. what are your reasons for choosing those schools and does it matter much to you that they aren't ranked?

Amy said...

frankish, you should have gotten your score (not analytical writing though) immediately after you took your test! what kinda racket are they running over therein Gardena?

Brenda said...

Also, it's $20 for report when you order them later, yeah?

universalchampion said...

@salt , i applied to u of memphis and u of kansas, both of which aren't listed in the mfa handbook (although may be in seth's later rankings?) i did cull both schools from seth's blog, specifically from comments where he responded to questions about other new programs that would have a higher acceptance rate.

also, i'm relieved to see the few posts here from others who haven't been following up/calling up/checking up on applications once they've been sent. the stress of getting them mailed was so great, i really can't even fathom going through the motions of following through. i may be shooting myself in the foot (finding out in like april that my app wasn't reviewed because of missing recs or something), but more than anything, i just wanted to drop the applications in the mail and let the universe decide (as hokey pokey as that may sound). cheers, c

Amy said...

re: Calling to follow up on apps

I think the only aspect of your app that you ought to be diligent about in terms of making sure the schools have received it is the writing sample. I feel that transcripts, LORs, SOPs and the like are also insanely important, but adcoms probably don't even touch them until you past the first gates of MFAdom to enter into the "We shall consider" pile.

I'm not sweating missing transcripts or late GRE scores. I know that I requested them in a timely manner. If the schools start actively asking for them, then I'll freak out.

Tory said...
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Danielle said...

salt-
I applied to Eastern Michigan, which isn't included on the list. But, it isn't an MFA, it is an MA, so that may be why. Program just looks really cool, and super friendly.

Lauren said...

@ salt,

Yes, I am applying to schools not in the rankings. I think it's a little silly to limit myself to ranked schools. What if I suck and I don't get in to any of the "good" schools? And the rankings have ensured that those top 50 schools are now getting SO many applications -- the odds of getting in are, at times, infinitely small. It's pretty depressing that you can be in the top ten or five or even two percent of all applicants, creative-writing-sample-wise, and still get rejected. Look at how the lists of schools we're applying to is the same. Same schools over and over.

So the non-ranked schools increase my odds that I'll get accepted somewhere. I'm not young, I have three children, and I've restructured my life for this "going back to school" thing. I can't do this all again next year. I don't have that flexibility.

I also don't think rankings are the end-all and be-all of this thing. There are so many things the rankings don't take into account.

My unranked schools are: University of Central Florida and the Cleveland NEOMFA. I'm pretty excited about both programs and I am sure I'd get a lot out of them.

salt said...

hey danielle,

i applied to Eastern Michigan too. Very excited about their program.

DigAPony said...
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DigAPony said...

@ salt:

I also applied to several unranked schools. I feel like little gems are hidden everywhere, and that what you get out of academic endeavors can reflect on how much of yourself you throw into the program, and how much you just click with people- a lot of it is up to chance. (But hey, I could be completely wrong!) I also wanted to increase my odds by applying to schools that might not get app numbers in the high hundreds.

Some of my lower-ranked schools applied to (in fiction) are:

-U Idaho (the rural setting really appealed to me)
-Minnesota SU @ Mankato
-Boise State (I get a great vibe from the program, and had some bitingly clever email responses from the program director)
-Northern Michigan U
-Wichita State (they emphasize a lot of English electives and pedagogy, and I'm interested in teaching writing and literature)

So we'll see. Also, about checking up on app materials- I have not been contacting programs or obsessing about it. It seems I used up all my worry during the actual app process. I sent everything out mid-December, and my UPS tracker says everything was delivered by December 22. I'm just trying to trust in the system, and wait nervously for the next few months, hoping I get in somewhere with a good funding package. (Cuz folks, I'm one of those sad people you see on the news who got laid off, has been unemployed for SEVEN months, and despite intelligence and a long job history, can't find work to save her life.)

I think my rant has ended. Thank you.

WordShift said...

Salt asked if anyone is applying to schools that aren't on Seth's list? I am applying to two, UCSD which is a new program (in its second year) and CCA, which an art school in San Francisco with a hefty price tag, 31K per year. I'm hoping to snag a full ride, tuition paid.

As a side note I generally like programs that provide structure but at the same time allow MFA students to take classes in other disciplines.

Curious what is everyones top school of choice? I suppose I would say Iowa for me, but realistically I'd like to stay local (So Cal) so I'll have to go with UCSD, or CCA, that is IF I get full rides. I love NYC though, so Hunter would be great!

Anyone also applying to any MFA programs outside of fiction, non fiction or poetry? I'm applying to one of these, UCLA for screenwriting.

4maivalentine said...

Eli-lol, stupendous entertainment!

Lauren-I'd love to exchange SOPs. I'll be in touch shortly.

4maivalentine said...

follow up!

Jenna said...

Here's a question: some schools specifically hinted that you should NOT write anything along the lines of "I've known I wanted to be a writer allllll my life" (hello, Michener!) So I didn't. But since we might all be interested, do we blog-goers tend to be life-long writers or relative newcomers? I know I wrote my first "story" before I knew how to write (it went like this: "There was an old woman. She had a cat. The cat died. She was sad." but was spelled like this: "tzrp a uomn add cat wooo did. sad." and the letters weren't in a row). I've met other youngish writers who had similar experiences of writing since early consciousness, but have also met older writers who are excited to follow a new passion. Where do you guys fall?

Brenda said...

Jenna: I prefer to answer your question.... with a poem.

Once there was a bird with just one feather. The color it was depended on the weather.

There's where I fall. I think I was about six years old. And there was also the Civil War novel at age 12, which involved a woman getting thrown off her horse on her wedding day, landing on her head, and dying. In her wedding dress. Yeah.

DigAPony said...

I started my writing life in first grade, with my illustrated story about a puppy trying to find Santa at the North Pole.

Still waiting to hear back from publishers on that one.

Stranger said...

Horrible gut feeling starting to kick in...What if my tone is too monotonous in my writings? It probably is with all the editing, and deleting and polishing. Yuck. What if? What if? The words dull, and boring keep popping up. Maybe it's because...I don't know? Maybe it's because I reread them over and over again before I sent them? I'm just...worried, worried, anyone else gets those thoughts, or rather doubts? I'm losing my mind and there are still 2 months left. Somebody shoot me.

Seth Abramson said...

Hi all,

Just a quick "FWIW" note. "Unranked" schools in the P&W rankings (at least this was my intent, obviously others may read it differently if they choose) are those programs with no votes in the poll; i.e., they are present in the rankings only because, in the most basic sense, they exist -- not because they have (at present) any identifiable following per this particular ranking. So, nine schools are "unranked," at least three of which are programs that are new in 2010.

As to the difference between a Top 50 ranking and a school ranked 53+, I should mention -- as no one would have any particular reason to know this -- that the primary reason P&W only ranks a "Top 50" in the magazine, and then a longer ranking online, is because of time and space constraints for the print edition of the magazine. That is, if all 131 "ranked" programs could have been published in the magazine they would have been (also, so as not to make it seem like exclusively a P&W issue, much less data is available on programs ranked 53 to 131, so creating a full data chart for those schools would have time-consuming beyond belief, if not literally impossible). Anyone who thinks (and I'm not presuming anyone does) that the difference between the #49 school and the #60 school is so vast as to create dramatically different application odds -- or a dramatically different in-program experience from the perspective of a student -- is probably, all things being equal, mistaken.

I totally second the poster who said that rankings are not the be-all and end-all. They're absolutely not. Apply to the programs you think are right for you; many programs I regularly recommend to people are not listed in the "Top 50," largely because the rankings don't represent my views -- but rather the views of you, the applicants. So, there are actually many programs in the Top 50 that I personally never recommend, as my policy (personal policy) is to only recommend fully- or nearly-fully-funded programs unless the circumstances are very unusual (e.g., applicant with zero prior debt, geographic restraints and/or a long-standing "dream school" in mind, full knowledge of what debt does to your life/finances, and, even with all that in mind, if more than 20K total debt is being contemplated I 100% oppose the idea [unless it's a non-trad applicant who's keeping their day job, not that I personally recommend that either, for various reasons]). But again, "my" recommendations are meaningless -- they reflect my own values and perhaps not those of others.

So, there are tons of non-Top-50 programs I strongly endorse: UCSD, BGSU, UCD, SDSU, Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, WVU, GCSU, Western Michigan, Boise State, Kansas, Miami, and Old Dominion, just to name a few. That a number of these programs are moving up in the rankings over time, and several of them into the Top 50, is a testament to the fact that, in some instances, my own valuation system does match that of others.

In any case, one goal of the rankings was to highlight all programs, not just some -- there is no MFA program in the U.S. or Canada that does not at least appear in the P&W listing (along with 1 MA program; in the future, it will probably be at least 2 MA programs). So I do hope people are applying widely to programs (and my data seems to indicate you are) and not just looking at the somewhat arbitrary "50" cut-off. It's a heck of a lot more important to me that people simply know their options, and understand the opportunities for (say) funding that are out there, than choose any one particular school for any one (or more) particular reason(s).

Be well, all, and -- most importantly -- the very best of luck to everyone with your applications! I'm rooting for all of you, if such a thing is possible.

Cheers,
Seth

Eli said...

Frankish, ha ha! i can deal with the coughing, the lice-riddled headphones and the menace of bullet-proof glass. But not letting you out for a pee? That's inhuman! I will fight to use their facilities, and if Pee-Gate puts an end to my Cornell application, so be it.

Danielle said...

Thanks, Seth. Glad to see you back around these parts.

DigAPony said...

Stranger- you're not alone.

Brenda said...

Stranger: ironically I started to like my writing sample after reading it for the millionth time. And I NEVER like my stuff. So I'm pretty sure it warped me going over it so much. :)

But how is this for doubt and wanting someone to shoot you: I'm questioning my genre. I've always worked in both poetry and fiction. But I've been fiction, fiction, fiction my whole life, it's always been my main area. Last few years, though, I got more involved in poetry. But it's still relatively new to me (compared to fiction) so I'm applying under fiction, but I'm doubting my choice even though I know it was (probably) the right one (maybe)...

4maivalentine said...

Okay, here's the deal. I know that's it's been said a million times that GREs hardly factor into admission. But my hyperactive imagination has just convinced my entire being that I will not get into any programs because they will be appalled by my score. I need someone to please talk me off the ledge and tell me they don't matter. SOS, the knife is so close to my wrists right now.

Brenda said...

4mai, TRUST me, it won't factor in. What about Eugene, a great school, that says right on their site they don't want GRE scores and if you submit them nobody will ever see them? It can't be THAT important. :) I mean, I bombed the math part and could have done better on the other parts. It's more for financial aid that ANYTHING else, from what I can see. Pretty much every school I've applied to has had that disclaimer: your score doesn't matter to us but might improve your chances of funding. Big deal. :)

Brenda said...

Heck, not even Michigan wants GRE!

Eli said...

Don't listen to your imagination, listen to people who've been there and done it, surely! tons of stuff i've read here and on P&W - going back way over a year - affirms that GRE scores really do NOT matter. If you scrolled through old MFA blog and P&W posts about this (i think there's actually a thread on P&W about the GRE), this point gets banged home a hundred times, so don't let yourself think otherwise; it's not worth it. I will do appallingly on the maths and quite possibly the verbal (depending on caffeine/fatigue levels) but who cares! it's almost unanimously agreed the GRE proves, and means, nothing! Do not stress about it, please :)

Danielle said...

Also, I SWEAR someone posted on P&W a year or two (or more...I may have gone to the archives) getting into several top schools with a 2.something GPA and without even finishing the math portion of the GRE. Don't sweat, have some wine/kitten cuddling.

RugbyToy said...

The awful thing about typos (I just noticed a glaring one on the first poem in my writing sample, ARRGH!) is that they pollute the sample. I cannot get "clear results" from my applications with all this ... crap floating around, messing up the thing I've sent in to be analyzed. Typos cloud the issue. It's like an AIDS test. You wouldn't want anything sullying your blood sample, anything that might set off a false positive or, God forbid, a false negative. This sort of thing is too important for impreciseness.

And yet, here I am, finding all these little blips on my application, in my writing ... the kind of things that I fear will sway my "results."

And knowing they're out there--these errors--allows me the chance to believe that if I get in to University of Red Lobster or, really, nowhere ... I'll convince myself that it was the trypos, the little errors, the quiet lack of professionalism. And instead of looking at the thing at face value, I'll come to believe I was sunk by ... by the absence or presence of inappropriate consonants and vowels and conjunctions.

Even if it's not true, I can see the thought swelling in my mind even now. And this, ladies and gentleman, is what leads to aneurysm. And bitterness. And bad, bad poetry.

Or, what will be more likely in my case, is no more poetry ever again.

RugbyToy said...

I guess what I'm saying is: "This is maddening and I want to give up. I have no control. I have No control! Sweet Jesus, take me home ...."

Or whatever.

frankish said...

@4mai Most of the schools I looked at use the GRE scores to help applicants apply for (non-TA/GA) merit-based financial aid available through the university. A few schools did note that there was a minimum GRE score required to be admitted to the graduate school...I seem to recall something like 900 or 1000 combined score. But I only saw that on two or three out of the probably 50+ sites I researched.

I suspect that if an MFA program really wants you, there may be things that can be done even if that is a problem. I know some programs can waive GRE requirements for people with masters, so there are definitely loopholes.

I wouldn't worry about it. It seems to me (as a trend) that the better the MFA program the less they care about the GRE.

Good luck!

Gena said...

Don't know if anyone has already asked... but does anyone know where the transcripts go for Old Dominion? Grad school or department? Same question for the AIGFA or whatever that ridiculiusly acronymed financial aid form was?

-G

PS- Thanks Seth. Hope the PhD has been treating you well.

Lauren said...

About GRE scores:

In a tiny way I wish they counted. I studied my fool head off and rocked them. Like 690 verbal, 1410 total ROCKED THEM.

But I felt I needed to -- with a 2.85 GPA (albeit from 19 years ago, but still). Of course I don't want the GPA to count at ALL :)

/end of shameless bragging

G said...

It's ridiculous that I can't spell "ridiculously".

kaybay said...

So glad Seth is back, even if it's minimal! It's comforting...

Rugby Toy - your neuroticism is endearing! I wish I could capture some of your neurotic loathings in my characters, they would be very interesting. Honestly though, there is nothing you can do about your applications at this point, which might sound unnerving. For me, it's actually kind of liberating, because I'm too lazy to care about something I can't control. That doesn't mean that I haven't read my sample and SOP, worried over my GRE scores, refreshed the blogs over and over, but I've moved on as much as I could, since there's nothing I can do! I worked very hard on my sample, as I'm sure you did too, and I'm more proud of that than anything. I'm soooo happy to see improvement in my writing too, even if I have yet to enjoy the fruits of my labor :( Good luck and keep your over-analyzing, ill-intentioned thoughts to a minimum ;)

Ashley Brooke said...
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MommyJ said...

@Lauren, if it makes you feel any better, one of my transcripts --from my first attempt at grad school some 20 years ago -- has more Fs and Ws than passing grades. Still, I was accepted a few years ago into a master's program, which I then aced. (I'm not stupid. It was just the wrong program at the wrong time. And the terminal stupidity of the very young.)

The program I graduated from two years ago didn't really care about my transcript from that long ago.

It'd kind of be like asking what a 20-year-old got for kindergarten and basing admission on that. They are going to read your writing sample, look at where you are now, and where you plan to go.

@4mai, some programs aren't interested in scores at all. UMass-Amherst doesn't ask for them at all. In some cases I think it is a university hoop, not an MFA hoop.

Ashley Brooke said...
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jamie_mu said...

If you're feeling worried about your writing not being good enough, get used to it. It doesn't get easier. It gets harder because you're reading more of what's been done. You're reading the work of senior classmates. You understand more and more what makes good writing and the work required to write it. It's intimidating, but it's something all writers have to deal with. Luckily, we can't help but write.

As I mentioned earlier, I look back at what I submitted for my writing sample, and it's no longer good enough for me.

SOPs...I got some advice from a prof who was on the PhD adcom at my undergrad. Unless otherwise asked, do not talk about how you've always wanted be a writer. Everyone applying probably has a similar story. State what you want to get from the program. Most of my SOPs ended with something along the lines of I know what it is to write poetry, but I don't know how to be a poet, and that's what hope and expect to learn as a student in your program.

In one of my SOPs I mentioned wanting to work on the litmag associated with the program, and of course it was a cut and paste typo, the magazine was for a different school. I was still accepted.(And I'm pretty sure I had a lie/lay confusion in my writing sample.) While typos should, with all effort, be avoided, they do happen. You shouldn't be rejected because of a typo.

Lauren said...

Ashley,

Aww, I wish I could tell you not to stress. But I know how it is -- we're going to stress no matter what, about whatever it is we think of as our weak spot.

It's out of our hands now. You did your best with the application process, and that's all you can do.

Kerry Headley said...

4maivalentine: Don't worry about the GRE. Just echoing what the others are saying. They are right. There are other, more legitimate MFA-related reasons to stab yourself. (Not that I am encouraging that.)

Ashley Brooke said...

Thanks, Lauren! Congrats on your GRE scores!

Trilbe said...

I was talking to my writing mentor about the GRE and he told me that his GRE math score was in the 14th percentile. He got his MFA from the IWW.

I'm not sure I would be able to find it right now, but I do remember a P&W poster from last year (or maybe the year before) who had a GPA that was less than 2.5 and was concerned that his/her combined GRE score were below 1000 -- a number that s/he had become convinced convinced was some sort of cutoff for graduate study. But, of course, the GRE scores and low GPA didn't prevent this person from being accepted by a highly selective MFA program. If I can remember the screen name, I'll look it up and post a link to that saga.

And I think Jamie Mu's personal story could also relieve some people's minds of an earlier stress -- from back when Eli was worried about not applying to enough schools. I seem to recall that Jamie Mu only applied to six (or seven?) schools last year, all were among the most highly selective and I believe s/he got into four of them, including (I'm pretty sure) Michigan and Irvine.

WordShift said...

Seth thanks for stopping by!

Caleb said...

@ salt, universalchampion

I applied to the same "unranked" schools as universalchampion: Memphis and Kansas. Although these choices were somewhat based on proximity, the programs just interest me. If I get in to Kansas, I'd be excited to be around the Alternative Theatre. It would also be a thrilling experience to be in the first collective of graduates from a new and promising program.

@seth

I appreciate your comments on the ratings. I think we can all learn from a small amount of subjectivity in this process. That being said, I'd be totally lost without all the various ratings and helpful hints on your blog. A thousand thanks. I hope you're finding Madison to your liking.


Today, I turned in my last three applications. That makes twelve apps of mine somewhere out there in the wide world, hopefully safe in an English Department Office. It's too much to fathom, this project I've been working on since August, finally completed. Celebrations tonight; nail biting tomorrow.

Jessa said...
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studearnley said...

I'm new to the blogging world, but it's nice to see that everyone's sweating the same stuff I'm sweating. I saw in another post that applicants were deeming November admissions to be "the last minute," meanwhile I haven't even finished all of my applications yet. I've been writing essays written in my free time after a 60+ hour work weeks. I'm taking next week off to study for the GRE, then taking the actual test on Friday, which was the latest I could take it for Texas Tech. I took a practice test and did not identify "kindle" to be the antonym of "satiate" which was a kick in the ass because there are enough hard words out there that I'd like to think I'd get the easy words right.

This process has been a big hairy bitch and I cannot wait for it to be over.

Caleb said...

Jessa, I'll second that about Marnie Leonard. She's been so nice, so human, and so down-right sweet. I've had good experiences with all of the staff I've been in contact with: the people at Kansas, Jan Coleman in Memphis, Texas, Cornell, Michigan, etc. They've made this entire process a lot easier and a little less miserable.

Sessily said...

Hello all,

The mailbags are certainly getting full over here with great stuff. RugbyToy--I've really enjoyed how willing you are to put all your neuroses on display. I kind of wish you were in fiction, applying to the same programs as me. I'd love to work with you!

Anyway, in case some of you don't know, the forum over at the Poets & Writers site (http://www.pw.org/speakeasy/gforum.cgi?forum=34;guest=5350912) has some activity going on. I hope that link works for you. If not, it's pw.org/speakeasy, then select the MFA Programs under Writing and Publishing. A few topics have been picked up lately. Just an FYI for everyone here.

Sessily said...
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Raine said...
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Raine said...

I would also like to extend much thanks to Marnie Leonard at Colorado State: she has been incredibly helpful and kind with my questions.

mj said...

can we revisit the "most broke-a$$ websites category"? because i've been waiting for memphis to change the application deadline from january 15, 2009 for months now. has anyone emailed jan coleman to make sure that it's still the same date in 2010?

4maivalentine said...

Thank you everybody, you are all such angels.

Speaking of websites, Mj, I remember there was a comment in the last mailbag about some of the programs looking like a early 90s geocites page. LOL, so true.

frankish said...

The people I've dealt with through the application process have all been very nice and most of them quite accommodating.

Kellie Wells at Washington University,Tara Stramm at FSU, Terri Zollo at Syracuse, Karen Sturm at Montana, Coleen Hoover at Notre Dame...these people were amazingly kind and helpful, especially considering that I hit them up at their busiest time of year.

A few program directors and department chairs even answered my emails during the holiday break, which I thought was very nice.

All in, although rushed and hectic (all my fault), this has been the friendliest application process I've been through.

Cheers!

4maivalentine said...

So I've been thinking, and this may apply to Fiction writers more than Poets. One of the major components of choosing a program is finding a fit for you. I actually think this is the hardest part, considering you have to research all the professors and even the students, if you're feeling overzealous.

One thing that I don't like about any of the schools is how they handle their criteria for their ideal candidate. All schools claim that they're looking to accept writers who have a certain "je ne sais qoui" but that's not really true. Let's be honest here, I think we focus a little too much on talent and not enough on the politics of the matter. Of course a MFA program wants talent, why wouldn't they? But professors have an idea of who they want to teach. For example:

Brown and UCSD-wants experimental writers.

UT(Austin)-May accept one or two novelists but is more prone to accept short story writers.

I know many of you are going to claim that trying to generalize the program this way takes away from it, and it may, but I believe that it will actually help applicants make better choices. I'm interested in what you guys have concluded.

frankish said...

@4mai-- I think you have a very good point. There are a lot of programs with attractive locations and funding programs that just don't seem to turn out the kind of work I like, and I suspect they wouldn't like my work. Those were easy choices to pass on.

The hard part, for me at least, has been figuring out what bias a given program might have to see if it might be a good fit for those programs where it's not very obvious. I did my best, very broadly, and then decided put the onus of fit back onto the programs.

I have a few polished and published stories sitting around here somewhere but decided to send in a (very) rough draft of part of a novella I've started. On the positive side: it's original, and it's risky. On the negative side: it's rough, and it's risky. My thinking, though, is that since this is the kind of work I'd really like to do (even if it's not workshopped or polished yet), I'd be better off sending that as a writing sample to see if it's a good fit with any programs. If I got in based on some other work only to found out there wasn't anyone at the program simpatico with my new writing, that would be lame for everyone involved.

There are a couple of downsides here, of course. To hope for this to work, I had to apply to a bunch of schools (15, in fact), hoping someone would see past the rough quality of the work and find some promise. The other is that, even with that, I probably have less chance of getting accepted than if I sent more conventional prose.

I have the funny feeling I'll be sitting here in April wishing I hadn't been so cavalier about this. :D

kaybay said...

4Mai: while I think that's somewhat true, I know of several Brown grads that weren't experimental writers. "Fit" is impossible to measure and because of that, I think it's totally acceptable to send your writing to whatever school you want. I'm sure there are "experimental" writers at Iowa, for example. Besides, many people mistake their writing as experimental or traditional, so they may not be a good judge of their fit. I'm not saying you're wrong, but I do think there's so much going into an acceptance/rejection that it's almost impossible to find the magic formula.

salt said...

4maivalentine,

I understand what you're saying. There are lots of factors that go into admissions decisions and we should consider them.

I've thought about this but in broader terms. Something I have considered is the idea of real talent being overlooked because it's either too ahead of its time or because it's too different from what is going on in the contemporary literary world.

The same way this happens in the larger publishing world I think this can happen within MFA programs too.

If you don't fit what people are doing now then no one knows what to do with you. I feel it's very possible that a lot of talent is being rejected while more mediocre applicants are being accepted because admissions committees feel more comfortable with something they find familiar rather than something they've never seen before and don't know how to react to.

I can't say with certainty that this happens often. I'm just speculating really.

Also,

What are people's opinions on the topic of originality anyway? Do you think there is an abundant supply or has it been used up already?

4maivalentine said...

OMG the craziest thing just happened! 3 of my applications hadn't been submitted yet!!! I'm so happy their deadline didn't pass or I'd be crying.

RugbyToy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RugbyToy said...

I'm re-posting this because my typos make me sweat.

Salt,

Originality's a slippery thing. I find the best work is work that's strikingly familiar. Not cliche, mind you--isn't "familiar" a wonderful workshop euphemism for "cliche"--but of a chord and tenor that brings me back in thought to some moment or feeling that was as yet unresolved or even unmined. It allows me clarity I'd never thought I needed.

I love having an eerie sense of intimacy with a writer, and I worry that those of us who are too experimental (if there is such a thing) might overshoot the common ground. Ezra Pound was vastly original, but he was a sort of isolationist; I don't think his work offered much wide connection with readers ... perhaps the few elite who could crack him. That's why I always preferred scribes like Mark Twain. Twain knew he was producing "pop" for the masses, but he didn't mind. By lacing his denser works with humor and dialect, he found a way of spoonfeeding bigger ideas to more people. Folks who wouldn't have swallowed such ideas any other way. They had to have Twain's promise of what was familiar in order to compromise with him.

I think connectedness is so important for writers. And so novelty, originality, freshness--all that's terribly important, but if you abandon too much of the old dance, no one will be able to feel a part of it. You'll be the drunk girl on the bar, hanging out by the juke box, shimmying all by her lonesome ... and people will stare, but no one will feel compelled to join in.

WanderingTree said...

Salt, as long as humanity holds onto individuality and doesn't become a race of automatons, I think there will always be an abundant supply of originality.

Re: programs overlooking talent for the safe bet.

I'm sure less talented writers are sometimes admitted over more talented ones for whatever reason. I think it's part of the applicant's responsibility to research a program and the work of faculty/alumni and esp. current students to get a glimmer of information of what kind of work is "acceptable". Of course, just because a professor writes realist stories doesn't mean he/she doesn't admire experimental pieces. Professors at these programs are well-read, they are smart people, and I'm sure they can recognize potential in whatever they read regardless of whether or not a story scratches at their aesthetic (which they might not want in a student at all). Also, reading the work of alumni is sometimes misleading because many people are still evolving years after graduating from and MFA program. At the end of the day, you just don't know but doing a little investigation can give some direction in a process that is highly subjective.

RugbyToy said...

Although Twain was an original, too. He was doing things no one else was doing.

But he wasn't throwing Greek around like confetti or writing poems in the shape of giant penises or rhyming "cute" with "moot" like Rick Springfield.

WanderingTree said...

Rugby,

There are always people that eventually flock to the drunk girl by the jukebox. And as the night carries on and everyone else gets drunk, it won't really matter as much. People will wonder why they didn't join the drunk girl sooner. I agree that connectedness is important esp. if you are wanting to appeal to a larger audience (translation: have some commercial value), but at the same time there will always be an audience (albeit smaller) for the "other". And often times the "other" eventually becomes the mainstream (or at least more accepted).

salt said...

thanks for the thoughtful responses.

just to clarify -- I wasn't saying that the work someone may not know how to react to is experimental and the work someone might be used to is realist. I wasn't going for that at all.

I mean it's possible there is writing that is rejected because it can't be categorized. An application reader might come across it and think: I don't really know what this is and therefore don't know what to do with it.

Realism and Experimental are definitely categories. What happens to work that can't be categorized? I think it's rejected more often then it's accepted. But again, just speculating.

cb said...

Different note, but I'm curious about everyone's top school/reason why. It's hard for me to pick because every program has something unique and appealing about it (I'd love to live in Seattle, but Wisconsin has Lorrie Moore, and Iowa's Iowa...), but I feel kinda drawn to Montana for the totally unscientific reason that everyone I've spoken with there has been so helpful and welcoming.

How about you guys?

RugbyToy said...

I regret getting into this conversation about originality and drunk chicks at the Road House. Because I always wanna take back what I say. I could argue with myself until dawn, and often do if the boyfriend doesn't slip me my nightly 20 mg of Xanax in a cranberry juice spritzer.

Do you folks ever worry about being lied to? Like, you know your teachers are kind human beings who want to be encouraging and supportive, so they never really tell you the whole truth, so you wander off into the sunset thinkin' you're hot stuff ... and that makes you end up looking like a douchebag when you appear confident that your writing will get you anywhere and that people will want to read your work and teach you and buy you coffees ...?

I just don't want to be lied to. But even if I'm not being lied to, if someone's being nice, I just ASSUME that ... that ...

Ugh. Just read the stupid Wikipedia entry and you'll understand. It's brief, and I bet 67% of this readership will be self-diagnosed by evening's end:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impostor_syndrome

Xataro said...

Panic, thy name is Indiana.

I got a postcard from Indiana University today saying that my file isn't complete because they don't have my GRE scores. Of course it would arrive on a Saturday.

This was a shock since: 1) I sent them at the beginning of November, 2)the score report went to five schools, and 3) all four of the others reported that my file is complete.

I'm a nervous wreck now. Not only is Indiana likely my top choice, they're the ones who are very grumpy on the website about the deadline being absolute, including all supporting materials.

I am having vivid fantasies of the office workers laughing and dancing in glee as they put my whole application, poems and all, into an old rusty barrel and watch it flicker into ash.

I know that's not really what happens, but has anyone dealt with them who can tell me they might be more forgiving than the website suggests? I mean, the test scores (and transcripts) are the part of the app that I really, truly have no control over.

Christine L. Friedlander said...

Xataro, I think we're in the same boat! I got that very same postcard in the mail today, too, and I sent them my GRE report on October 14th! Ugh.

Kerry Headley said...

I may be wrong, but I am pretty sure several people had problems with Indiana last year -- receiving notification that their files weren't complete even though they had proof that they sent everything in. So, you're probably not paranoid about that particular program losing things. Hopefully, you can get it straightened out on Monday, but don't ignore it. Anyone else remember the details of last year's Indiana drama?

Christine L. Friedlander said...

Thanks, Kerry, for the heads up. I found the original thread for "Jesse's Nightmare" here:

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=15642985&postID=708732941290888914

Having proof in hand (i.e. receipt of the GRE Score Report/Transcript Order) seems like a good idea. Hopefully, we will get this straightened out on Monday.

kaybay said...

That's one of the biggest reasons I didn't apply to Indiana. I would be irate if I spent $50 or so on an application and didn't even have a shot at admission because of a stupid technicality. It's kind of sad that they're losing applicants because of this.

Xataro said...

@Christine

I'm not sure how to feel about this after reading the old thread. It looks like for some, they'll work with the applicant, and for some they won't. If my writing isn't up to snuff, I want them to reject me for that, not for having my GRE scores "confiscated by a rogue paperclip," as Jessa so eloquently put it.

I'm glad that my prep hour is in the morning on Monday so I can call and get this resolved. I just wish that the mail were one day faster so I could have taken care of this on Friday. No sleep for me this weekend.

Ryan said...

RE: Indiana debacles, definitely call the program. Heather Steele is extrememly kind and professional to deal with. I accidently forgot to submit my online application before the first because I'm retarded apparently, and the system still let me submit so I figured it would be ok (Michigan and FSU's systems block the online app. after the deadlines, fyi), but Heather emailed me the following day letting me know they couldn't process it this year, but she would hold everything until next year.

Now, I know that on some level that sounds asinine, but they are pretty clear about the deadline, so I was very happy to not have my fee go down the toilet, even though it will put the app on next year's ballot (hopefully not an omen). I did let her know about how shitty it is that the app lets you submit it post deadline if they're so gd strict about the deadline.

Just my two cents.

Melissa said...

Just before Christmas, I emailed Indiana when I tried to check my application status online and couldn't get login information. They said they were missing my GRE scores as well and I also had confirmation and knew the other schools received them. I decided to send them again.

I was a bit upset that somehow one school didn't receive them? But I'd rather shell out another $20 than let all that work go out the window!

Emily Walker said...

Bit of a weird question but can anyone think of an MFA program (fiction) that only requires two recommendation letters AND their deadline already hasn't passed? I have a few letters left over from two profs and I'd like to maybe send one or two more apps out since I missed two deadlines (thanks to a family emergency).

Brenda said...

Emily, Brooklyn College meets those criteria although they do have a $125 app fee.

Catherine said...

Hi all,

Just putting it out there that I've applied to The New School for CNF.

If anyone hears back from them, I would love to know. I'll also post a comment on this blog when I finally hear a decision as well.

Best of luck everyone.
Catherine

DigAPony said...

Emily,

Minnesota State University at Mankato only needs 2 rec letters, and the deadline is Feb 1. They have a normal $50 app fee, TA option, and do not require the dreaded GRE. Good luck!

Ryan said...

On another note, anyone know why it takes so long to get out rejection letters compared to acceptance phone calls. For instance, last year I applied to George Mason, which, according to Seth's acceptance times listing, phoned folks in early February. I got my rejection letter in the first two weeks of April. Surely there's no reason for that big of a break, right?

RugbyToy said...

I second Ryan's question.

Lexi Elizabeth said...

What's Minnesota's financial aid like?

G said...

Emily--

University of Florida requires 2 recs, deadline's on the 16th of January, so you'd have to hurry.

Old Dominion also requires only two; their deadline is February 15th for funding.

-G

SeeMoreGlass said...

frankish - just curious, what do you mean by "rough" when you talk about your writing sample?

4mai (+ others) - one reason i think it's work discussing a school's reputation, as you proposed, is that, whether they are right or wrong, people will infer certain things about you when you tell them where you got your mfa. even if i am quickly proven wrong, some part of my brain does think "experimental" when someone says they went to brown.
that said, aside from brown, i really don't know of any other stereotypes. does wisconsin produce lorrie moore-esque writers? are iowans all alpha dogs? are minnesota candidates immune to cold weather? etc.

SeeMoreGlass said...

sorry, i meant, one of the reasons i think it's WORTH, not "work"...it's 3am.

BookMoth said...

Hi all,

Just wondering if anyone knows of a website/blog/forum where you can actually read/download the application writing samples of people who have been accepted to MFA (fiction) programs?

I don't mean general writing by fiction MFAers - there's plenty of that around. I mean the actual samples that they sent in and were accepted for. (Hmm, that's not the most structurally sound sentence, but hopefully you get the gist!)

Thanks everyone, and good luck.

frankish said...

SeeMore - By rough, I mean that when I read the piece I can see that there are issues that need to be addressed: unpacking certain dense segments, grounding the reader a little better, more subtly modulating between rhetorical forms, sections of writing that just don't sit right, and others.

What I submitted as a writing sample is not something I would submit for publication. Over time and with critical feedback, I plan to address the issues mentioned. A lot of work remains, and in some cases it's not clear to me exactly how to fix the problems. That just may be the nature of an early draft.

I don't know if I've explained it well, but hopefully you get the gist.

Cheers!

WanderingTree said...

Ryan,

re: acceptance dates

I believe Seth's list only records the FIRST contact made by a school to an applicant (and reported to Seth). In some cases, a program will contact people that have been admitted AND received some sort of special fellowship earlier than others. Also, as suggested above, there probably were acceptances after the dates posted (the list does not reflect that).

WanderingTree said...

SeeMoreGlass,

You bring up good points about the perception of programs (no matter how unfounded). I think most people would probably agree about Brown but I highly doubt EVERY writer coming out of the program is "experimental". As I said in an earlier post, a lot of people are still figuring themselves out in programs and may become VERY different writers by graduation or years after the fact. And Iowa is such a large program that it is bound to have almost any kind of writer. All Alpha Dogs? Perhaps only the small percentage we ever hear from and even then it just comes down to good writing, hard work and a bit of luck.

phil said...

@ Lexi

I always thought Minnesota's financial aid package looked very good, but I believe I read somewhere about budget cuts reducing the financial aid.

Nick McRae said...

Hello all,

Just a little note about GRE score reports. I recently had a situation where all but one of my GRE scores (ordered at the same time) had reached their destinations in a timely manner. I called the grad school, and then I actually just went ahead and called ETS about it. This is what I discovered. A lot of schools these days are electing to receive score reports from ETS in CD format rather than paper copies. The CDs contain the reports of multiple applicants and are shipped to the programs in (what I understand to be) regular intervals. This means that schools who receive scores this way will not be receiving them individually within x-many business days for processing plus x-many for postal delivery. The timeline is somewhat different for the CD scores because they must be grouped with other applicants' scores and burned to CD before being shipped, and then, on the other end, the scores must be taken from the CD by the people at the grad schools, organized, and added to applicants' files. This doesn't necessarily mean that the process is always slower than the old-fashioned one, but occasionally it is. Just thought you all might be interested. If you have a problem with score reports and the grad school can't help, call ETS and see what they have to say.

Be well,

NM

MSR said...

Subscribe.

kaybay said...

How do you subscribe?

Danielle said...

kaybay- you just have to post a comment. :)

kaybay said...

Then what does it mean to subscribe?? I thought I read somewhere that subscribing meant that you were sent comments through email or something (??) Not sure if I'm just going crazy, but at the very least, I'm confused...

Nick McRae said...

@kaybay

When you post, just tick the "e-mail follow-up comments to..." box. You will then be "subscribed."

NM

Tory said...

RE: Indiana

Last year there were some issues with Indiana. I believe one person was denied the chance to complete his file (don't remember what he was missing though) and someone sent out a mass "your file is incomplete" email to most if not all applicants which turned out to be a mistake. So yeah, this kind of thing may happen again.

Tim Noble said...

Anyone know if the 2 pages Hopkins wants for the stupid freaking critique of work are double or single spaced?

kaybay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Abbie said...

Subscribe. ;)

kaybay said...

Thanks Nick! Subscribing... :)

Eli said...

subscribing, cos i'm doing the GRE tomorrow and need distracting. YAWN.

Dolores Humbert said...

Hey everyone,

Where can I check the status of my Indiana application? I dont think I got a confirmation/submission email from them to set up a new account or something, but when I log back into the application, it clearly says application successfully submitted...where is this place where I can log onto to check if my transcripts/scores/etc have been received?

Trilbe said...

@Eli and any other international women - The deadline for this year has unfortunately passed, but I saw this fellowship listing and thought you might be interested. It might be something to put on the radar for next year.

Since 1881, AAUW (formerly known as the American Association of University Women) has been the nation's leading voice promoting education and equity for women and girls.

International Fellowships

2010-2011 Academic Year
Master's/Professional Fellowship
$18,000
Doctorate Fellowship
$20,000
Postdoctoral Fellowship
$30,000

Applications available* Aug. 1 - Dec. 1, 2009
Application deadline*
DEADLINE HAS PASSED
Fellowship year
July 1, 2010 - June 30, 2011

International Fellowships are awarded for full-time study or research in the United States to women who are not United States citizens or permanent residents. Both graduate and postgraduate study at accredited institutions are supported. Several fellowships are available for study outside of the U.S.

http://www.aauw.org/education/fga/fellowships_grants/international.cfm

Xataro said...

Redemption!

As I checked my inbox, my computer screen was a bit brighter than usual, and I thought I heard angelic voices in the spinning of my hard drive. It was true! Saint Heather Steele went in on this most blessed of days and replied to my email. My GRE scores (the only unheavenly part of this tale) were sent to the graduate school instead of the department by mistake and have been added to my file. O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

I am off to write the Hymn to St. Heather of the Applications. Blessings upon you all!

X

Amy said...

Just submitted my last app. Ten for ten.

Now for Operation Distraction: Dexter Seasons 1-4

How are the rest of your distracting yourself during this period of life-altering limbo?

kaybay said...

I've been sending my work to journals/magazines (not fruitful so far, by the way), reading, writing and refreshing blogs like a maniac! It's totally not working as a distraction though, I just want to know!!!!

Eli said...

Trilbe - thank you SO much!!! That looks phenomenal!! It's a gem. I'm sending big vibes of 'nice one, man' your way - that's really kind of you :) i am definitely going to look into it for next year. If i magically get it i'll buy you a good few drinks! That is insane amounts of money for a fellowship. Wow.

And Amy, I have no shame in admitting that once my GRE is over tomorrow, and everything is finally finished, whilst i will hopefully be getting messy on dancefloors as soon and as long as possible, i'll also be cosying up with Season 4 of Battlestar Galactica, which I've been waiting forever (mostly due to my own lameness) to watch. Oh, how shall I enjoy it. Maybe, then, Dexter - i've heard good things. And anyone who answers they're reading and writing - c'mon! let's take those as givens :) I was trying to read Gravity's Rainbow a few months ago so i may return to that. Or not. Probably not...

Eli said...

Ps. on that note, anyone reading anything awesome they want to recommend that will be HIGHLY distractable during limbo-season? I'll go first- Ann Patchett's 'Bel Canto' - picked it up on a whim; it's brilliant. Not my usual cup of tea but I'm absolutely loving it; a beautifully crafted story. I just looked: she went to IWW. Ho hum.

forexhumor said...

Great post! Thanks for the info. I agree with Sam. Check out Buy articles and let me know what you think!

WanderingTree said...

Eli,

So say we all

(Yeah, I'm one of those too)

kaybay said...

Speaking of distractions, is anyone watching the Green Bay/Arizona game? Wow.

Alana said...

I definitely need to find some better distractions. I got burned out after spending every day for two months on my writing sample, so I haven't been interested in writing lately. I probably should force myself to start writing again. The worst part, though, is that I'm only working very part time right now and the job hunt isn't taking up much time since no one is hiring. Starting to feel the acceptance anxiety hard.

Xataro said...

My distraction was screaming my head off over the Arizona/Green Bay game. I live in Phoenix, so I'll be looking into getting a pacemaker put in before next week's game.

kaybay said...

yay! I didn't know if there were other sports fans out there, but (as odd as it sounds) sports have been a wonderful distractions. I went to my alma mater's bowl game (war eagle, y'all), got angry when stupid Nick Saban and his crimson "menstruating" tide won, and have been watching the playoffs rather diligently.

That game was amazing, although it should never have gotten close to over time. Sorry, Xataro. I was rooting for Phoenix if that helps :)

Amy said...

Kaybay!

One of my ex-boyfriends is also a war eagle fan and he used to hate it when I would say "War eaglezies!"

Also, is it just me or are the majority of the regulars here are ladies?

Oh, here are some of my distractions: crafting, moving into a new apt and driving my car to California to register.

Danielle said...

My distractions have so far involved brain-candy novels (I'm not telling which, but they may or may not involve vampires) and watching instant-view movies on Netflix. I seem to be incapable of too much higher brain function. Also, working, so that I have a better chance of affording a costly move across the country, should it be necessary.
Maybe I should start watching football, though. Sounds like that was exciting.

universalchampion said...

@amy , ha, i've been under the impression that there are more dudes than ladies on here. who knows? also, where does everyone's quirky screenname comes from? (mine is from the tattoo on my right arm--an underwood 1935 universal champion typewriter).

distractions = my so called life on hulu (yes!), baking, knitting, cashing in on friend hang-outs which i had to sacrifice the last two months, and wondering how i'll ever muster up the heart to leave brooklyn if i do get into an mfa program. also, as for good distracting reads, i just plowed through sarah magnuso's "the two kinds of decay." (she's also IWW--most of my fave writers turn out to be). cheers, c

kaybay said...

Amy, is he an Auburn grad? I'm so obsessed with my school it's sad :( I'm not even originally from the South. I watch Auburn football religiously and I almost cried once when we lost. I applied to Alabama and Florida and seriously had reservations because of their football team. I'm pathetic.

Kay Bay is an offshoot of my name, Karen Britten. It was either that or k-bizzle.

kaybay said...

Sorry, edit that to say I applied to Alabama and UF for MFA programs this year and had reservations, and that I almost cried over ONE of the losses this year (we lost 5). Oh, Arkansas... really?

Gena said...

Agh... I'm getting so uselessly anxious. I'm going to send off my last application tomorrow when the post offices open, but I'm already in zomg-let's-read-old-acceptance-posts crazy mode. A certain team's playoff game was a welcome distraction, but alas... I have to wait whole days before the next one (hint: J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS!).

As to my name... it's my name. I'm just unoriginal. I've gone under various names on this blog and the speakeasy-- including "The One" (which was actually short for "The One Who Will Destroy You", used specifically for threatening my school's ITS department), "G", and the ever-lovable but oh-so-juvenile "DyeBieFyre"/"DBF".

In other, more on topic news, I got a response from Dr. Igloria, who runs the MFA over at Old Dominion, as to where to send the Financial Aid forms (Admissions). And on a Sunday morning, no less! Major props for helpfulness, ODU!

-G

Amy said...

kaybay, yep, he's an auburn alumnae. I've never seen someone own so much blue and orange paraphenalia in my life.

My username is also just my plain old name. Although I do have a internet presence connected with another name, but I'm so superstitious about this process, that I don't want to disclose it!

To everyone:
Am I the only who has already resigned myself to ALL rejections and have started making very vague back-up plans to ease the future pain?

Courtney said...

My baby sister (well, she's 18) just got her first acceptance for undergrad programs in the mail. It really pumped me up--this is all going to be worth it! I feel really positive tonight. It may be confidence or just this extremely delicious bottle of Rombauer chardonnay I'm tearing through. All my apps are in and I just rented season 5 of Lost. Happy waiting, everyone!

WanderingTree said...

I'm reading Kevin Brockmeier's collection "Things that Fall from the Sky" (another Iowa person) and Secret Rendezvous by Kobo Abe (If you like really tripped out surrealism, check this guy out)

kaybay said...

I don't know, I own a lot of orange and blue :) Auburn fans are obsessed, the only fans worse than Auburn that I know of are Ohio State. Tell him war eagle ;)

Kitty In A Cathouse said...

.

Xataro said...

I'm going to get caught up now.

Since sending off my apps, I've been teaching English, ESL, and Creative Writing (the Day Job), writing some more, reading poetry anthologies, vacuuming the carpet down to something that resembles an old cotton sock, drinking spiked coffee, catching up on season 5 of Lost, and combing through my old notes from the world religions class I took a few years ago for information on how to reverently construct shrines to every saint, spirit, or deity I can find mention of (including a few of my own invention, St. Heather of the Applications now among them).

And to answer the other questions, I'm male, the name is something made up that nobody else would have because it starts with an X, and the backup plan is to keep teaching and go through the whole process again next year.

Excuse me, I need to relight the incense and polish the prayer chimes.

BookMoth said...

Hi again everyone,

Just a gentle nudge regarding my earlier query:

Does anyone knows of a website/blog/forum where you can actually read the application writing samples of people who have been accepted to MFA (fiction) programs?

I don't mean general writing by fiction MFAers - there's plenty of that around. I mean the actual samples that they sent in and were accepted for. (Hmm, that's not the most structurally sound sentence, but hopefully you get the gist!)

Thanks everyone, and good luck.

Ryan said...

Re Bookmoth:

Regrettably, I does not knows of such a sites. Should I stumbles upon one, or hear of such, I shall make a note of it here.

:P

salt said...

BookMoth,

Maybe you can ask if there is anyone on this blog or the MFA Chronicles blog who is currently enrolled in a program and would be willing to share all or part of their winning sample with you. There might be somebody who wouldn't mind doing that.

BookMoth said...

@Ryan - thankee.

@salt - excellent suggestion, will do.

WordShift said...

Is anyone planning on applying to traditional residency programs and low res at the same time? I am applying to eight residency and three low res. Though I will hold off on two of the low res programs for Winter 2011 until I find out what's my status on the others.

Rose said...

Has anyone made the mistake of re-reading their writing sample and realizing they totally hate it?

I'm suddenly filled with crippling self-doubt.

One of my advisors (who went to Iowa) told me, as soon as I said I was applying for an MFA, to pick my writing sample and look over it once and then never look over it again, because it would drive me crazy.

She was right.

Maslo said...

@ Rose

I've definitely stopped looking at my writing sample because of that same crippling self-doubt. Before I gave myself a break from it, much of my time was spent alternating (as in every 15 minutes) b/w liking it and loathing it. I'm sure lots of applicants have experienced/are experiencing exactly what you're talking about. I remember folks commenting about that on here not too long ago actually (both b/c of typos and just a general "was sending this the right thing to do?" question that kept creeping to mind).

Try not to worry! Or if you have to worry, remember that lots of other people are worrying over the same thing that you are :)

Laura said...

So today I got a fairly large-sized envelope in the mail from UMass Amherst, told myself that of course it was way too soon for them to have made any decisions, but still couldn't stop my heart from pounding as I opened it. It was a brochure for their Summer Writing Institute that they probably sent to all MFA applicants.

Danielle said...

Thanks for the warning, Laura. I'll know not to freak in about three hours when mine arrives.

Alana said...

The same thing happens to me every time UNM sends me an envelope updating me on my application stuff. I know it's way too soon, but a tiny part of me hopes that maybe they think I'm so great that they can't wait to have me! ;-)

Jamie said...

Woke up this morning to a fun little nightmare.

Turns out I didn't submit my online application where I intended to Rutgers-Newark but to Rutgers-Camden. I had thought Camden was the only option (figured they might be central graduate processing) but I missed the scroll-down bar on the pop-up window. Boneheaded mistake!

Now it's to the fun world of emails, phone calls, can I get my fee transferred, etc. Everyone has been very helpful, but it does throw me into a limbo I'd rather not be in.

Ugh. I was the bonehead, but come on, people who design these online apps, throw me a bone! If you're going to have a zillion pop-up windows and such, couldn't you correctly size them so information isn't so hidden?

Great story, I know. But it's the sad state of my life...

On another front, to reply to this "how are you distracting yourself after submitting" question: Besides occasional freakouts, my goal is to act more like the writer I want to be. Get back to writing something besides my personal statements and credit card number, of course, and submit lots. I've enjoyed talking to current MFA students lots here in NYC, so I'm going to keep doing that. Go to readings and literary stuff. Do research.

This seems a good way to go because it lets me make progress while keeping the MFA in perspective. The MFA is going to help me get to where I'm going; it's not going to invalidate my writing if I don't get in, and it's not a golden ticket if I do. So get in or no, I'm still going to do what I need to do to keep this writing thing going.

Sunfish said...

Hi! I'm glad I found this blog. Does anyone know if any of these schools have an interview process or is everything based on the application? Thx!

universalchampion said...

@sunfish,

i know that hunter college calls it's first pool of applicants in for interviews, then sends acceptances out after that. not sure about other schools, though. cheers, c

Danielle said...

Sunfish- In previous years, VTech has done phone interviews, if I remember correctly.

Xataro said...

@Sunfish

It would appear that interviews are rare. I applied to 11 schools (and researched about 30 in depth), and none wanted interviews. It's all about the writing sample, apparently.

Good luck!

Sunfish said...

Great. Thanks for the info. Good luck to everyone!

Xataro said...

Does anyone else feel *encouraged* by reading your writing sample, or am I the only one? It seems like the act sends most into the gloom room, shutting the door behind them.

I look at all the time and passion that went into what I wrote, and I think there are some really good moments in what I sent. They're not perfect -- I mean, it's obvious that I have things to learn -- but I think there is value in what I have produced.

Does anyone else feel like this?

(Disclaimer: I'm not one of those people who flounces around vomiting sunshine on people. I just get genuinely become more hopeful when I read my sample and want to know if others feel the same way.)

WanderingTree said...

Xataro, I also feel very good about my sample, and a couple of top tier mags have given me a fair amount of ink on it, so at least I know it's on the promising side of the spectrum.

BUT with that said, a lot of strong samples are rejected every year. You just never know when it comes to admissions at MFA programs. After talent and fit, I think it's more of a numbers game. I sort of imagine applicants that reach this stage on a measuring scale with the admissions committee dropping single grains of sand on each side.

I'm trying to keep things in perspective. I believe in my writing, and I know a reject doesn't necessarily say diddly-squat about my abilities (or even fit for a program). I'll apply again. A reject just gives me one more year to write, read and publish more. That's one more year of my journey in realizing what kind of writer I am, what my voice really is. And that's not a bad thing to be entering a program with at all.

Farrah said...

Xataro

I, too, feel confident about my sample. The odds of the programs I applied to are killer, but there's no reason a slot couldn't be mine. I imagine selecting a class of writers is similar to casting a play--so many elements to consider to make the thing gel as you would like, to strike a balance of strengths and weaknesses, talent and potential.

I agree with WanderingTree. It's a matter of perspective. Writing with a desire to publish (much less be paid to do so much less make your living at it) is a study in perseverence overcoming rejection coupled with the desire to keep getting better regardless of failures or triumphs. That is why I applied. I want to get better, and an MFA program will make me better faster. But I was writing (with both failures and triumphs) long before I decided to attempt this particular path, and I will be writing long after.

frankish said...

Reading my writing sample does *not* make me feel encouraged. :P

I think I'm just burned out on the whole application process. Hopefully, I'll get any of the applications I have left out by Wednesday and then feel better....

Cheers!

RugbyToy said...

I was talking to one of my friends who did make it into Iowa--she received a Truman Fellowship last year--and her story really raised my spirits. Again, she's in her late 40s, struggling financially, raising kids at a small town college in small town Kansas. And things went wrong when she applied. She, like me, sent her manuscript to the wrong address--but, unlike me, she sent it to a really, really wrong address. Like, other side of campus, department that has nothing to do with English wrong address. Subsequently, her manuscript got batted around from building to building until it finally made its way to the Dey House ... but it was past the deadline. No worries, tho--they took it anyway.

And then she realized she'd sent the wrong transcripts. And on and on. It seemed like she'd made a lot of procedural mistakes, and she still cannot guarantee her sample wasn't peppered with typos.

But she got in. With amazing funding. After all that muck, she got in--with all the odds against her.

Another friend got into Columbia after writing, at length, in her statement of purpose (I think) about how much she wanted to work with a professor at the university who not only never taught any graduate writing courses at that school, but who'd been dead for three years at the time she wrote her missive. Didn't seem to matter. And she was shocked, because she never would have allowed anyone that much leeway if she had been in Columbia's shoes.

It makes me feel better to think of it. Both these people are horrible with any sort of paperwork or application document. But it didn't matter. Even tho the Iowa and Columbia crews, in all their seasonal exhaustion, could have "dismissed" their packets because of, well, any number of valid reasons ... they didn't, and these two nutcases (whom I love dearly) scored.

Does anyone else have any stories like these? In which everything looks dreary, in which people made mistakes--the bigger the better--and still found their way into a program they dreamed about?

I have to say, with all my applications in, it feels unhelpful to be reading these mailbags day in and day out--what good could any of it do me but feed my obsession?

The only thing I can ask for, then, is the occasional reminder from this community that, late at night, when I fully realize how many little mistakes I made in this process, I need not believe all hope is lost. Something to keep me, not distracted, but afloat.

Xataro said...

I completely understand what you're saying, WanderingTree. I'm not an arrogant SOB who things admission is inevitable. I'm nervous as hell but trying to stay level about it.

You hit it right on the head. We need to be confident in what we've written whether we get accepted or not. I fear that looking on my sample as inadequate sets me up to be crushed should I fail to be accepted. Sometimes I think I should be more scared, though.

I'm trying to see it as luck. Or maybe karma, in which case I'm screwed.

Jamie said...

@Xataro

I feel good about my sample. People I trust have read it. Most were supportive but had criticisms. One person was highly critical, but I recognized that we also had very different approaches and perhaps aesthetics.

I was actually really grateful for the criticism, even the harsh stuff ("I don't think these are really stories"). It gave me a good perspective on how my work would be read, what I'm trying to do, and what I'm not trying to do. Plus the comments really came in handy as jumping off places when I was writing the intro and self-critique for Hopkins.

That said, while I think my writing satisfies some basic quality threshold, I have no idea if the various people at these programs will want to work with me on it. No idea whatsoever.

Dolores Humbert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ipchris said...

It's funny that people still think Brown is an "experimental" MFA program. That's just not true anymore.

Mike said...

can you elaborate?

salt said...

Xataro,

I am also very encouraged by my own work. It reminds me that I don't need the approval of others to feel good about anything I create. I find that quite liberating.

I remember being in a collage class with my friend and whenever he finished working on a piece he would always ask me if I liked it suggesting that he didn't know if it was good or not. It soon became apparent to me that I never asked him for his opinion of my work. Not that I thought his opinion was worthless or that my collage was flawless--I believe I didn't seek approval because I wasn't as unsure of myself and had a stronger awareness of my own creativity that maybe he was lacking.

DigAPony said...

Today, I keep going back and forth between feeling tingles of just "knowing" that I'll end up getting in somewhere, and tingles of sour dread just "knowing" that I'll be getting 14 rejection letters in the next few months.

Anyone else feeling this bi-polar?

Xataro said...

@DigAPony

Yes. That may be proof of humanity.

kaybay said...

Sorry this is so late, my work blocks this blog *curse you computer guy!!* But, Wandering Tree, I read your sample and I LOVED it, I really think you got something going there, so I think you have every right to be encouraged and confident.

On a side note, I have a sneaky question. Since this blog is blocked at work, I thought I could bi-pass his evil ways and subscribe, sending the comments to Microsoft outlook. It worked wonderfully at home and I giggled with sinister satisfaction. Then, at work, it didn't work!! It couldn't get it from the "RSS" feeds??? Something like that. Anyone know how I can send these comments to another account, like a yahoo email address? How can I get these comments at work before acceptances come?? Thanks!

kaybay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RugbyToy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RugbyToy said...
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mj said...

just finished last four apps: oregon, memphis, asu, and unm...aaaand i'm DONE DONE DONE. i just wanted to say that to people who would appreciate the spirit-breaking labor that is applying to grad school. thanks for being here.

kaybay said...

Rugby, we swapped via P&W (my screen name is kbritten over there). If you want, I would be happy to swap with you and although I can't speak directly for him, I'm sure he'd be happy to swap too. There are several others on this blog who were kind enough to swap samples with me. Thanks guys!

Cate said...

I can’t take it anymore!
I need to know! NOW!
I like my writing sample, but I have no idea if admissions committee members will. I have no idea how it compares to other MFA writing. I know the MFA programs I applied to, average a 3% acceptance rate. Realistically, I should make other plans for next fall. But, I can’t bring myself to give up hope...even if that hope is smaller than a bread crumb.

I’ve searched craigslist. I’ve obsessively googled every professor who might come in contact with my writing sample. I check this blog every day. I’ve read all the work I could track down from current MFA students and recent alums. I wished on stars. I've tossed pennies into fountains. I've made deals with Fate ("Fate, if I get into a MFA program, I'll find a way to bring about world peace...or at least do more community service.)

I’m going mad. I can’t sleep. I can’t focus at work. I need to know. I can’t take it anymore.

Xataro said...

@Cate

I could have written that. You're not alone.

I propose that we all work on a time machine. We can skip the next few weeks and just find out.

Trouble is, it might take a few weeks to figure out the fabric of the universe and all, which means by the time we finish it, we'll know anyway. Even if the machine doesn't work.

beedeecee said...

@xataro: i also feel good about my writing sample. that doesn't mean i think it's even close to the best of what the admissions committees will see, but i know i worked hard on them and they are the best writing i have produced to date. can't beat that, on a personal level.

i'm also really interested in hearing more about the misconception of brown's program. i don't consider myself an experimental writer and applied anyway, so perhaps this will make me feel less like i wasted $75 on that application. (!)

Alana said...

Anyone else doing a last minute application? I'm thinking of applying to U of Idaho. I just emailed their grad admissions dept. to see if there's enough time to get everything in and process it before the Feb. 1 deadline. I only applied to three schools as of this point and starting to feel that I may have made a mistake spreading the odds so thin. It's difficult being in CNF with no GREs, though. Limits the options quite a bit right away.

kaybay said...

In case there are others looking to apply to more schools, poets and writers has a database, including the deadlines. Here's the link:

http://www.pw.org/mfa

Laura said...

Cate,

I'm feeling exactly like you right now. While I still had all the applications to work on, the stress of finishing them on time and making them as good as they could be was occupying my mind completely... now that eleven out of twelve are done, all I have to think about is the waiting, and the absolute terror! And there's just nothing to do about it, except wait and wait and wait. Freaking out.

I'm also fairly confident in my writing sample -- well, at least, reading it over doesn't usually send me into fits of despair, and I really don't know what else I would change about it at this point. It was revised pretty much daily for months, reviewed and critiqued by professors... I hate how all this still doesn't add up to knowing if it's good enough to get in somewhere, though.

Brenda said...

Did anywhere here apply to Eugene under more than one genre? I'm having soooo much trouble figuring out what I'm supposed to do regarding the application packets. Print one and send it in? Submit twice online, for which I need some mysterious PIN? Submit duplicates of everything? Augh. I'm going to try to get them on the phone tomorrow but if anyone knows and can solve this tonight I'd love to just get it done.

Jessa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brenda said...

Thanks, Jessa. That's pretty much what is confusing me. Not sure if they mean "print out the application and mail it" or what. Also two complete packets, whether that includes the personal statement and everything, sent twice? Gah.

Jessa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brenda said...

I agree; I guess the problem is I don't have multiple copies of my rec letters...

gentleviewer said...

Okay so I'm freaking out. I only just discovered this blog and spent way too much time reading old comments in order to further freak myself out.

From what I've read, it seems like the biggest emphasis for admission is the writing sample. I'm curious, though, how much a person's resume is. One of the professors on the graduate selection board at my school said that former publications are important and also implied that an applicant who has attended a writer's conference is a more compelling candidate.

Has anybody else heard similar things before?

I'm worried that my own resume isn't going to stack up to the other, better applicants. I'm not even going to think about about my writing sample at the moment.

Ryan said...

@ gentleviewer and anyone with a similar freak-out.

Almost everyone who actually knows anything about the admissions process will tell you that the writing sample is by FAR the most imporant part.

In fact, if you pay close attention to the specific schools that ask for resumes, you will notice that mostly they are concurrent with the fact that the school will have pretty much all the masters candidates teaching and, while they care mostly about your writing, the schools with not full funding will give extra money to people who have either a better teaching potential or those with more teaching experience. That is, again, only for funding, and has nothing to do with your admission. I would venture to say most of the committee may not even touch a resume unless they are deperately trying to decide how to get funding to a candidate, who to award a fellowship to, et al.

So don't fret over the minor things, transcripts, gres, or CVs. It's your writing and your personality/character based on your SOP that's being gauged, not really anything else in terms of admission decisions.

On a note with something that was brought up a while back, when people ask what I'm doing applying to schools and such, or when I tell people what I'm trying to go back to school for, I love using Seth's statistics of the fact that mathematically it's just as hard or harder to get into an MFA program than med or law school, and is even compounded by the fact that the MFA admissions isn't academic in the way the others are (you don't have to pass the GRE with flying colors to get into an MFA, in other words). So, for any and everyone who DOES get in this year or another, that's got to make you feel pretty damn good, that the selectivity is that high-scale.

And just so everyone rests easier, let this mellow you out in these uber-nail-biting times:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJKythlXAIY

Eli said...

Thanks Ryan, that was good! I'm feeling significantly chirpier. Am I hearing things or were the lyrics: 'when the money comes'? Surely not...

Thanks for the book recommendations too guys; def gonna check out the kobo abe one.

I think this blog is getting to me; last night i dreamt we sent each other mixtapes. WTF! That's kind of a step over the line. I'm going nuts.

Also, yes, i like my writing sample too, but i look at the odds, look at the fact i only applied to six top schools (plus Irvine who seem to not fund international students anyway), bemoan my unconcealable and unhelpful SF fetish (as per my whining in earlier mailbags), and conclude it doesn't matter if i like my sample 'cos the odds of me getting in are still insanely, miserably tiny. But i also believe that everything is going to be alright (for all of us) whatever happens this year, and all related reassuring clich├ęs :)

ps - yes - the person who slipped in to comment on Brown's lack of experimentalism these days; please expand.

Ryan said...

Eli, I think it's "when the morning comes."

universalchampion said...

@eli making mix tapes sounds like an awesome way to distract ourselves for the next two months!

jamie_mu said...

@gentleviewer

I think it would be good to think about cause and effect when it comes to publication and conferences. It's not the fact that you had something published, or went to a conference that gets you noticed by an adcom, it's the effect that conferences and publication have on your writing and writing sample that's important. Arguably, and applicant who has gone to a few conferences, had his or her writing looked at by different people with different points of view, would be more experienced than someone who hadn't, and the quality of their writing would reflect that experience.

Adcoms look at writing sample first. The quality of your writing will get you on the shortlist. After the committee has narrowed down its choices it may consider factors outside the writing sample, CV, LOR, etc, but the writing sample is still the most important tool used for assessment and acceptance.

MommyJ said...

@xataro, I really like my writing sample as well. Two of the poems were published (Rattle and Spoon River Poetry Review) and I think they all flow nicely as a group. I am NOT one of those sunny people.

@Laura, I got that envelope from Amherst also and then had an evening of angst: does this mean you think I should come to this because I'm not good enough for your MFA program ... Etc.

LOR angst continues: my second recommender emailed me last night (so it was the first thing I saw this am) saying she'd written my rec over break but the Amherst site didn't recognize the email and password they sent her so she was thnking of mailing it; what did I think? Um, I think you should have gotten it to them by the dec. 1 deadline? I told her to mail it. At least I had a generic backup from my college credential file faxed (a month ago). I don't know whether this will make a difference or not.

Sigh. My planned period is over. Back to trying to prepare my students to take the unit exam on _Of Mice and Men_.

gentleviewer said...

Thanks for your replies.

I worry a lot because at my school, this application process is all anybody is ever talking about and therefore all I ever think about. The school I go to as an undergrad is exactly top tier (worry #1).

When I compare my writing to my peers, I'm not that intimidated. But when I compare our resumes, I really am. Some of the people who are applying to the same programs as me have won the same awards, had productions of their plays put on, been teaching forever. I certainly don't stack up (worry #2).

The professors at our school let us know that it's rare these days for people to be accepted their first time around (worry #3) and that schools are looking for people who have lived as writers (worry #4).

As for a specific problem currently occurring, I have to find a different writing sample for USF because they say that the sample shouldn't be formerly published. Now, of course, I'm worried that all of the schools require unpublished manuscripts. Also worried because I only had one manuscript under 15 pages and I don't know if I can further edit anything to a smaller page count.

Do you think a 18 page story on a 15 page limit is going to be a problem?

Freaking out in front of my peers is really not an option for me, so thanks again.

gentleviewer said...

BTW @Laura and @MommyJ

I went to that writer's institute (Juniper, I assume). It is so worth your time.

k said...

@gentleviewer

An 18 page story for a 15 page limit is fine. Also, you worry too much.

Plenty of people get accepted their first time around. Of course, plenty don't. There's always next year, and on down the line.

Amy said...

Can I confess to something totally silly and asinine? (No, it's not about how I've been watching so much Dexter, that I've been having dreams about the show for the past two nights...)

Actually, it's about how I was living in a developing country when I decided to apply to MFA programs, and part of that reason was because I had read Paulo Coelho's "The Alchemist" and it made me believe and shit. Truly! You've read it right? The whole thing with beginner's luck and knowing what you want and if you know what you want the universe will bend and and twist for you. Ai yo, sometimes I think about that story and it makes me hopeful, and then sometimes it makes me feel like a fool.

I waffle between visualizing the outfits I'll wear to class (cute shoes!) or whether I'll still have the spirit to bother my LOR writers to writing a one more letter for me next year. (Just one, because I think I'll only have the heart to apply to one school... Begins with an 'I' and ends with a 'OWA'. Dream big, or go home, right?)

MommyJ said...

@gentle, I'd love to go but it's during my students' exam period and there is no way my school would let me go.

4maivalentine said...

Amy :)

The Alchemist is one of my favorite books.

At risk that I may become completely preachy, it does ignite your own belief, as it should. Santiago's journey was far from "the universe bending" to his needs. It's about how much he went through to get there, including losing his faith.

One thing that I hold with me is that I may or may not get accepted to any MFA programs this year, but that's about as significant as when Santiago got robbed over by the pyramids while digging for treasure that was not there. Just like him, I'll question my sanity, my faith, and unlike him, I'll spend what little money survived the application rounds on hard liquor, poker and one legged hookers named Achatina.

But what will I have accomplished from my rejections? I'll be a better writer with stronger pieces than I had last year. My resolve will also be tested, maybe I won't be going to a school but will I stop? By the time Santiago even finds the treasure, he'd become this strong man who met the love of his life and all of these other things through a series of misfortunes.

So I like to think that by the time I'm finally an established writer, I'll be this juggernaut of a writer. People will ask me, "Oh, how did you get so amazing?"

And I'll say, "Because I spent the entirety of my twenties getting rejected from magazines, publishers and MFA programs. It forced me to wallow and self pity and gain 20 pounds via ice cream. I also transformed into Bella Swan and jumped off a few cliffs in dire hope that I'd see Robert Patterson again (No, not Edward, sparkly vampires give me the creeps), but then there were footprints on the beach. Sometimes two, sometimes one. God was carrying me or something. So I forced myself to turn inward, dig deep and push myself to another level."

So just hold onto that faith like Santiago and the universe will bend for you, just not on your time!

It's not asinine to dream big. It's asinine for society to keep telling us that we cannot achieve the impossible odds unless we're Miley Cyrus (and I'm sure that even she has had one hell of a journey). I'm just saying, miracles happen everyday. Now I sound like a sesame street character.

Sorry, I spent my morning arguing over the beauty of Avatar's story. Some of my friends are convinced that it's a liberalist political agenda, others think its about Mr. White Man saving all the dumb tribal monkeys who can't seem to save themselves, and I think it's sad that people cannot see past its surface and bask in all of its allegorical beauty. So I'm just long winded and as ethereal as a fairy right now.

Maybe I'll go blog about it.

La dee da~

Laura said...

@ gentleviewer,

Yes, Juniper looks incredible! I wish I could go. The $1,125 tuition holds me back though, having just spent around that amount on applications!

@ MommyJ,

I started to slip into angst too (what does this mean? Does it mean they want to accept me, so they're encouraging me to attend things like this? Or does it mean they think my writing needs more improvement? etc.) Then I had to stop myself, and convince myself that it doesn't mean anything and they must have sent it to everybody!

Xataro said...

I liked The Alchemist, too. It wasn't perfect by any means, but it was a good, quick read.

I always remember the shop owner that he worked for. It seemed like the book was saying, "Chase after what you want. If you do, you might suffer, but if you don't, you will suffer." The devil, in this case, is in the modals.

The sentiment sums up why I applied. The mortgage mess and pay cuts took my house, and teaching in Arizona is getting scary. Five years, and I'm making less than when I started and nearly got laid off before this school year. Next year will be worse, budget-wise. I have no kids, and my better half is willing to follow me across the country. The timing seemed right. Really, I couldn't live with myself if I didn't try to do what I've always wanted, which is go further with my poetry.

And if I don't get in, well, I've learned a lot already. I'm still desperately hoping that I do, though. I'd like to think that the universe will go out of its way to make me happy and convince myself that getting accepted somewhere is inevitable, but so far the evidence is lacking.

Bonne chance, mes amis.
X

DigAPony said...

"Quit now, you'll never make it. If you disregard this advice, you'll be halfway there." ~David Zucker

Cheesy, yes, but I'm diggin' it!

Amy said...

It may be too early, but does anyone know if the acceptance/rejection tracking thingy will still live at Seth's blog, or will someone else host it?
I know Seth said he'd help out, but where?

universalchampion said...

@amy here's the link to the first-acceptance list

http://sethabramson.blogspot.com/2009/01/2009-data-bank-of-mfa-application.html

Catherine said...

@amy
@universalchampion

I was wondering about that too, and took a look at Seth's blog, but it looks like it's discontinued?

{This blog was discontinued on November 9th, 2009.} ... it says.

Also, that link was from last year. Do we have info that he's going to update it anyway?

universalchampion said...

@catherine

the link was pulled from a comment seth left in an earlier thread this application season.

i imagine he won't be updating it/keeping records for this year, since he's said that he's going on hiatus from this blog (see his farewell nov. 9th: http://creative-writing-mfa-handbook.blogspot.com/2009/11/with-thanks.html)

hope this helps! cheers, c

Seth Abramson said...

Hi Amy,

A link should be up in about a week (the person I gave permission to use my full template/data to is close to starting up). So far the only acceptance was one from Otis around Christmas; we won't see the next one for about a week more so the site should be up (I'm told) before then (and I'll come back to whatever the current mailbag is and link to it). Best to all,

S.

Charles said...

Is anyone contacting departments to confirm that they've received your writing sample? It seems like 90% of the schools I've applied to don't have a way to check online, and I'm getting totally paranoid that none of my applications are even going to be glanced at. But it's probably just paranoia, and I don't want to be a nuisance. Bah! Am I allowed to email them, or should I just punch myself in the eyeball and take a cold shower?

Ashley Brooke said...

I've started a blog called the MFA Waiting Game, because I'm bored/nervous/etc and I need something to take my mind off of application talk. It's just for random conversation that has nothing to do with the MFA application process.

If you wanted to be added to the author list, just let me know. It's for wasting time.

http://mfawaitinggame.blogspot.com/

gentleviewer said...

@Laura

Yeah the price sucks, but I recommend applying for the financial aid. If I remember correctly, there are a couple of scholarships that are need base and a couple more that just have you work for your tuition. I knew somebody who had to organize an open mic night for tuition.

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