Thursday, November 11, 2010

Take the 2010-2011 MFA Blog Challenge!

Hello, all! Adam again.

As I'm hitting the intense part of the semester--preparing final projects, revising work, and drafting those dreaded 20-page papers--I'm reminded of how much worse it was to apply to school. Lots of schools, really: 8, which probably wasn't even enough. I don't miss the experience.

Worse yet was the aftermath, the waiting, the constant visits to MFA Blog. Refresh! Refresh! I wasn't the narrator in the story by Benjamin Percy, but I was nearly as desperate. Who had a friend who heard so-and-so got wait-listed where? Oh, at Notre Dame? I didn't apply there. Refresh! Any news was NEWS, and I was hooked. While this blog does an amazing job providing vital information--seriously, it's the envy of my friends in other fields--I don't think its head honchos want it to ruin your day-to-day lives.

The only thing that got me through the stress in November and December was working on my manuscript and my statements. In January, once most of the apps were sent, I wrote new poems, read a lot, sent work out to journals, applied to residencies, etc. By the time March rolled around, I had to regiment myself. Finish this chaper, and I can visit MFA Blog! I still managed a daily visit, and I still managed to feel fulfilled outside of the application process.

So I'd like to invite you guys to take part in a little challenge where you set your own rules:
  • How will you stay fulfilled as a writer while you apply, and then while you wait for the responses?
  • Will you regiment yourself to make sure you aren't spending entire days (and workdays) refreshing?
Share ideas in the comments section! I'll be checking in through the season to ask how everyone's doing. Good luck to everyone who's in the thick of it!


Katie Oh said...

this is actually the one advantage to applying to these programs while still in school--i'm still going to have 40 pages of my thesis to write in the spring! hopefully i'll be able to actually work on it and not become consumed by the anxiety of waiting.

also something that people might try is something that again stems from my still being in college: explore your town/city! i'm definitely leaving nyc after i'm done undergrad, so pretending that i'll be going to a whole different place will hopefully motivate me to get out and about and do things i haven't yet done here!

Blob said...

While I apply, I'm not sure I will be doing much of anything other than working on and working out my applications. But I'm hoping to get everything out around the same time, rather then drawing it out across the month that my deadlines span.

Sadly, at work, I probably will check this blog far too often. But in general, my plan, for Feb/March anxiety is to do sort of a self-imposed, delayed NaNoWriMo. I'll set a goal of words to have done by March and anytime I feel like pulling my hair out, refreshing my email, checking the mail for the third time that day, I'll write instead. Let's hope it works.

jaime said...

While applying to programs I'm juggling trying to find time to write health articles full-time and still have me-time for writing (non-work writing). Once I apply, I imagine I'll turn into a workaholic and gym rat to avoid thinking of possible rejections....and go to this blog multiple times a day.

kaybay said...

Heh, I have to admit, I will probably be a constant blog refresher, just like you were. I was last year and don't think it'll be any different this year.

I think you can try to divert your attention, but it's tough. Last year, I sent out my sample stories to journals, which gave me something to do and something else to look forward to. I'm already sending one of my stories out (for shits and giggles :D), and I hope to do the same with my other one. It's almost too easy to upload it and click a button to send it to a journal. Hey, why not?

It's part of the fun to be all anxious over this stuff. It's like anticipating the "big game" in sports. Without the butterflies and anxiety, what's the point? I like a little drama ;)

Adam Atkinson said...

@ Blob--that sounds rad! If you'd like, when February rolls around, I could help you rally some compatriots on the blog!

Adam Atkinson said...


HA-that's totally cool! We've all gotta do whatever works for each of us in this godforsaken process, right?

Bryan said...

Now that I'm finished with applications, I'm just gonna work on writing every day, polishing up those short stories, submitting, etc. I figure if I spend all my post-application time fretting about whether I'll get in or not, I'll be way behind writing-wise if I don't get in anywhere. And if I DO, well then, hey, I've got a leg up.

But I'll still check this blog probably every day, just because it lets me know other people are in the same fretting overdrive mode.

Adam Atkinson said...

@Katie--it sounds like you have a really healthy attitude, which is heartening, as I'll also likely be applying in my last year of MFA to PhD programs and various fellowships. Hopefully, I'll see that as an advantage, as you do. (Also, something tells me I'll still have a lot to learn about Baton Rouge by the time my last semester rolls around--good point about exploring your town!)

Blob said...


I would love that. A little peer pressure/support could go along way in making my plan actually work. I figure if I'm going to be a stressball, I may as well at least try to channel that into something good!

E.T. said...

Howdy all! First-time poster (long time MFA blog stalker, trawling for tidbit of wisdom I can find).

In this cruel meantime, I plan to work on a collection of stories I've begun. My writing sample comprised two of these stories. This collection is something I'd like to whip into shape while at an MFA program--at least as far as I can see now. I know people can change a lot as writers and I look forward to that development. But I want to feel prepared if I am accepted, and have some newer/raw work to shape up starting on day 1.

Adam Atkinson said...

Those are all solid points, E.T. The notion of using your application stories as a starting point for a larger project is all upside, from my vantage. If you sweep your apps, you can say, "Y'ain't seen nothin yet!" and if you get shut out, you can say, "Y'ain't seen nothin yet!" Such a good idea!

PS Glad you're posting! :)

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