: A Creative Writing Community
@CrattyYeah, I had that post-application doldrums bit going, too. It was really hard to focus on anything after having the highly structured deadlines to meet. I found it helpful to schedule a weekday 2 hour time slot to write at the library - even if I don't get any writing done. I'm using the Portable MFA Handbook to provide a little structure/format to follow. (disregarding the commentary on MFA being superfluous, since, I believe, all of the contributors have one. HA!) If I stay for longer than the two hours, all the better. I figure once all of the school responsibilities, including teaching, hit me next Fall (hopefully) then this habit of two hrs will be settled into my bones (again, hopefully.) It's hard though, to sit in "fictive dream" space after the app deadlines are over. And now the waiting - sheesh!
I know this was mentioned before, but I'm still unclear. What does it mean to subscribe? Is that when you get email notification that more posts have been left or is it something else?!?Help. Please.
@FarrahIt's so you get an email every time someone comments (if you check the box). It's a little bit easier than checking the site constantly.
I can't even imagine subscribing to a blog this active. My e-mail doesn't need that much mess.
I'm sure each committee is different, but if there are say 500 apps in one genre and 5 Adcom members, do you think they each take 100 and then bring their top 10-15 to the table for all to review? Could our app possibly only get read by 1 person per school? Do you think they start reviewing the (completed) submissions before the deadline actually passes? I guess it really is up to fate at this point.
Sunfish, I don't know how it is at every school, but at Washington University (St. Louis) every person who is reading reads every single submission. They rate the submission from 0-3 and then when they convene those with the higher numbers get discussed.
I wonder about how many people are looking at my manuscript, too. I know Texas State asked for three copies of my sample! 90 pages! I sure hope that means that three people will be taking a look at it. :)
@ CoughdropMany thanks.I'm with Ashley Brooke on this one, however. I'd rather obsessively check the site.Can you imagine being on those adcoms if every person has to read every submission? I wonder if they have guidelines requiring them to read at least a certain number of pages, etc. Or is it as cutthroat as agent-hunting, where if they're not hooked by the end of page one, they're done?!
If you want a distraction, follow this link. Anyone see the Shiba Inu puppies on puppy cam a year or so ago? Well, the mother just had a new litter. I think it might be impossible to be in bad mood after staring at puppies. http://www.ustream.tv/SFShiba
Ha ha...subscribe? What if I miss an acceptance email because I cleaned out all the hundreds of "MFA" labeled messages from my inbox?But seriously...I'm yet another lurker (I hate that word--"faithful reader" is less creepy) crawling out of the woodwork (I hate that phrase too!). Sorry, brain is fried from the application assemblage marathon. I've enjoyed following the various diatribes and tangents (I'm one of the quiet girls) and I, too, am having nightmares of graduate assistants cackling and rolling cigarettes from the pages of my writing sample...Anyway, I'm applying to low-res programs and am wondering if any you other "faithful readers" are too. I think I've seen only one other person mention low-res on their apps list. Give a shoutout, and we can commiserate together on lack of funding, self-discipline prerequisites, etc... I guess I'm just feeling a bit lonely, since there's no way for me to take time off from "real life" to squeeze in a 2 year stint at Iowa or Columbia. *sigh* If anyone has any questions about low-res application hoohah, I'll do what i can to answer, based on my limited experience! You are not alone.
I love rain. It's one of the reasons I'm itching to get out of Phoenix.Lucky for me, though, we're likely to get more rain this week than in all of 2009. I'm taking the opportunity to sit and drink coffee while I look out at the gloom, read writing samples that some fellow applicants sent me, and write a bit.It's reminding me of the things I love about writing. I'm having a break in panic season. Just thought I'd share.
To fill up the waiting days, I've been buying books. Notice that I did not say "reading books" :P I've been buying more books than I can read, but definitely books that I intend to finish! Right now I'm halfway through The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (amazing), and after that I've got The Ark Sakura and Naked Lunch ready to be read. There are others (so many others), but those three are the ones occupying my brain space right now. I'm also working at TJ Maxx and trying to keep myself from lying down in front of a shopping cart and letting someone run me over repeatedly with it. Ugh, retail...
Well since everyone is talking about what they are doing, I was wondering if there's anyone else here who is just finishing up college? While I am extremely anxious, I have to say that finding things to do does not seem to be a problem for me right now, haha.
Xataro - big fan of rain myself. Did you apply to any schools in Florida? It rains here constantly, almost daily in the summer with some pretty awesome thunderstorms. It rains more in Florida, but it rains a lot in any Southern state. If you love rain, the South is place to be :)
Thanks for the suggestion guys (about the doldrums thing). MostlySwell, your suggestion sounds great. And grounding in oneself the habit of writing every day sounds rather prudent. But where I'm situated now, one would have to travel into town to find a proper surrounding conducive to writing. And, good heavens, just thinking of the prospect makes me weary.@ Xataro - I am above all else a whiskey man. I haven't had great Scotch in a long time, but I've settled on this wonderful little bourbon. I confess I was rather distrustful of American whiskey, but my hat must go off to this particular brewery.And the idea of who actually reads one's writing sample frightens me a great deal. But I take comfort in the fact that each school I've researched trumpets its commitment to reading every writing sample carefully. That's as far as I allow my mind to go.
@coughdrop-- Yep, and I'm in the midst of the Literature Comprehensive Exam, aka... lit comps. Have to give a twenty minute brush-up presentation on English Lit after 1800 (Twenty minutes. Every genre of English lit after 1800. HAHAhahAHAHAhahahaHAHA). I have a partner who replied: "But I know nothing about English Lit after 1800!" I about died. She is having nothing to do with this presentation. To everyone who wishes me well at looking sane/looking at sane people, thank you. I will rub my hands together and try not to look nefarious.
Maslo,I too have been buying books. A bookstore by my house is liquidating everything. I also picked up The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, but I admit that among 7 or 8 other books, I haven't started it yet. I haven't read much of anything since November! It makes me nervous to read because I just think about my applications! I'm about ready to start again, though...
@GenaOh man, I thought we were the only school left who still did comps! I don't have any presentation to do (that was all last sem) but I do have a 5 hour test this saturday that is making me into a very unpleasant person these days. But the good news is that it will be over soon!
@kaybay - No, I didn't apply to any programs in Florida. I neglected to mention that I hate heat even more than I love rain. I had the misfortune of visiting Tampa with my family one summer, and I know that Florida wouldn't be the change I need. The schools I applied to are mostly clustered around the Great Lakes. I want four seasons, not just two like we have in Phoenix.@Cratty - Any nationality of whisk(e)y can be lovely. I have my favorites from America and Ireland, too. I find they are a particularly good analgesic to help me endure the grading of my students' essays.
I am trying to remind myself that last year--you know, that year when I got rejected 14 times--I thought I would only be waiting until April 15 at the latest. Until I got waitlisted. I didn't know exactly where I stood until well into May. (It happens that I stood on shaky, crumbly ground before falling into nothingness.)So, I guess what I have to say is, it hasn't even begun, really! Keep busy. An Intervention marathon on Hulu has driven me to open a bottle of wine before 2pm today, but I'm trying to focus on writing, because it's a long haul from here to late Spring.
I've been trying to figure out ways to make money without a job while I wait for acceptance/rejection notifications. Ideas anyone? Two of mine fell apart but now I think I'm on to something good. Being unemployed is awesome. It's the lack of money that makes it a problem.
Ashley Brooke,Oddly enough, reading has been the only thing keeping me from thinking about my applications! Something that I didn't think was weird until I read your comment haha And I think/hope (once you get started on it) you'll like the Dog in the Night-Time :)
Yeah, that really should be a warning to all applying to Florida schools, it is hot here! Seasons are "hot" and "warm." And if you don't have pin straight hair, your hair will be frizzy, if you wear mascara, you will look like a racoon at the end of the day, if you are of Irish and Russian descent, your cheeks will have be redder than a communist. You will look like Elaine in that one episode where she goes into the Bagel shop and the pipe breaks, releasing steam everywhere. So, all you people who applied to one of my top schools, UF, stay away! ;) Are there any other MFA programs in areas where weather is horrific?
@kaybay and everyone else:I'll take you up on your call for warnings and give notice to anyone who applied to Arizona or Arizona State. The weather here is indefatigably brutal.I've heard people dismiss what it's like by saying it's a dry heat, or saying "Well, in it gets up to 100 degrees every summer." That's cute. Try it for six flipping months.We have two seasons in the Arizona desert. Above and below 100F/37C. The scorching can begin in April, but you can count on it in May, and it extends into the far reaches of October, with early November being "only" in the nineties Fahrenheit. Our record high is 122F/50C. No, you don't know what that's like because it was 102 one day in July where you live. It's the kind of heat you have to experience. Turn on your oven, then with your face right by the door, open it. Feel how it scorches your skin? Now imagine that outside. For weeks on end. Then imagine getting in your car that's been sitting in that for a couple of hours. Nice, huh?To make it even more appealing (and this is for you, "But it's a dry heat"-ers) we get a massive influx of tropical moisture that lasts from early July to mid September. Think 105-108 (Celsius folks, don't bother to convert. You don't want to know.) with tropical moisture for that entire time span, not just two or three days here and there. It comes whether it bothers to rain or not. No, it's not a dry heat, it's the stew-you-in-your-own-juices pressure cooker out there.You may think you can take some heat, and you're probably right. But this inferno will outlast you, and you'll be watching documentaries on penguins and praying that the Bomb will fall and put a quick end to your suffering before you know it.If this sounds OK to you, more power to you. Millions of people put up with this, and I hope to soon count myself among them no longer. You can have my spot, but don't say I didn't warn you.PS - Winters are OK, I guess.
Kitty In A Cathouse,What's your background? Your story? How you know so much about WUStL? Are you a mole? If so, can you not tell your people about me wishing everyone on the blog dead? Because I didn't mean it. Those was jokes.kaybay,Where in Florida are you at? I used to live in Tallahassee and then St. Augustine. My last year in north Florida was a sad one--all the tree frogs disappeared. I was worried y'all had lost your wetness :)
New mailbag, now I'm all screwed up and have to go find the responses and uh...respond.
You know, now that I think about it, I lived in Iowa City for a year, too, and the place got cold as a witch's titty during January. Negative temps in the double digits. Snot freezing on your upper lip while you walk to the mailbox. But is that a deterrent? No. If I must pay my dues with an explosion of brillowed hair or icy mucus or really dark, dehydrated urine, then so be it. Yay, tho I walk through the valley of the shadow of Lit, I shall fear no intestinal discomfort nor dry skin nor cause to wear a big, fashionable hat.
I LOVE St. Augustine to pieces... but alas, I live in good ole Polk County Florida, Lakeland to be exact (halfway between Tampa and Orlando). Don't you worry, the wetness is here, although it won't really start raining heavily for a few months. I love the frogs and lizards here, although a toad almost killed one of my dogs once :( I hear you Xataro, I could definitely see myself writing an equally long post on the heat here. You do sort of get used it, but it really does get to you. Do you find yourself getting irritable in September when it's still in the 100s? Do you fluster when kids are trick-or-treating in 90 degree heat AT NIGHT? I know I do!And winters, ha! "Winters"
@RugbyToySo, first you have to tell me that if this whole MFA thing doesn't work out I am going to live in poverty and then that such a thing as icy snot and dark dehydrated urine exists? :PReally, now. As my mother annoyingly likes to say, "Behind these dark clouds there is a blue sky". I am going to vehemently believe that we will all get fully funded acceptances into wonderful schools until proven otherwise. So there. I'm on my aggressively positive kick now.
@kaybay ... other places where the weather is horrible? honestly ... cornell. Ithaca gets snow drifts as tall as people. one of my friends slipped on ice and fell head-first into one, and people kept passing her by, unwilling to help pull her out because it was soooo cold out. most of the midwest would also get my vote, between dying cities like detriot/ann arbor, and the brutal, dry, cracked-skin winters and the places that don't get sun from october to march. of course, i'm originally a southerner, so i'm biased against all forms of cold weather. :)
On the note of weather at different MFA programs, I know a couple people on here applied to Oregon and/or Oregon State. I'm currently wrapping up my undergrad at OSU, so I can speak fairly when I say beware: almost everyone who is not from the Northwest suffers seasonal depression in this area. It rains. A lot. And it ain't always pretty. The Northwest is definitely green in comparison to other pockets of the nation, but the Willy Valley (where both OSU and UO are) is mostly deciduous trees that turn gray during the winters.I'm personally from Southeast Alaska, which is perpetually covered under rain and snow clouds, so Corvallis feels sort of like the Bahamas to me. It's gorgeous here in the summers, and temps stretch into the 80's-90's.That being said, I can't speak much for UO and Eugene (although Eugene is definitely not my favorite city), but OSU is an amazing campus and the English department here is shockingly talented. It's sort of strange to me, actually, that OSU isn't higher ranked in the MFA world, but that might just have to do with funding.Marjorie Sandor is the director and she's an incredibly warm, bright person to talk to, plus she's a genius, and she went to Iowa. Her husband, Tracy Daughtery, also works on staff, and they also have Keith Scribner on the staff, who is terrific to work with, and actually sort of hot, too. Keith went to Montana and got a Stegner. And if you're specialty isn't fiction, there isn't enough air in the world for me to sing my praises for Ted Leeson, who's the lead advisor for the non-fiction sector of the program. He's by far the most published professor at OSU, and I can spend hours just listening to him talk. He's absolutely the most insightful, observant person I've ever met, and totally chill, too. He likes a good beer and conversation.As for Corvallis, this city has been an incredible place to do my undergrad. It's an outdoor mecca without all the annoying yippies (yuppy + hippie) you'll find in cities like Portland and Seattle. The college of forestry owns several hundred acres of recreational forest that free for students, the beach is only 45 minutes away, and you can fish, hunt, hike, camp, snowboard, snowshoe, and ski to your heart's desire. Rent in Corvallis is cheap (I have a 1200 square foot apartment for $330 a month, utilities included) and the food, beer, coffee, and bookstores are phenomenal. There's virtually no crime, and people actually ask how you're doing when you pass them on the street.Also, Oregon doesn't have any sales tax.I totally sound like a salesman, but I just thought I'd give my two cents on this particular sleeper program. The deadline for OSU, I think, is the 1st of February.--On MFA programs with the worst weather, I think I've got it beat. I applied to Alaska Fairbanks, where winter temps range -50 to -30, and people wear t-shirts when it's 0 outside.
I'm going back to school next Monday to start my final semester of undergrad (we had a freakishly long winter break), and I'm really excited about having a distraction from this massive anxiety! I only need ten more credits to graduate, but I am taking nineteen. Which is the maximum number that I'm allowed by the school to take in one semester. Also, one of these is a graduate creative writing class (a professor invited me to take it even though I'm still an undergrad), adding more extra work. A major motivation behind this overload was to immerse myself in a huge amount of schoolwork so I wouldn't spend all my time stressing about getting accepted into an MFA program! I am insane.
I went to Ithaca for my undergrad (and, believe me, coming from the Caribbean, it was a nasty wake-up call). You get used to the weather, though. I really don't think it was that bad (not like Rochester). I got so used to it in fact, that I've grown to loathe tropical weather. Ack, beaches, I'd rather curl under an AC vent.
subscribing!Also, on the continuing subject of distractions from the waiting game, I spent an absurd amount of time this weekend camped out in my friend's apartment playing Peggle on Xbox. It's this bizarre arcade game where you try to clear pegs with a bouncing ball, and it's peppered with unicorns, rainbows, guitar riffs, and the occasional chipmunk that pops up and shouts Badass! or Party On! I told my firned, "If we had gotten this two months earlier I may never have applied to grad schools!" Let's hope it can keep me busy while I wait for my fate to come. cheers, c
Wow, lots of posts. Last year I don't remember anyone posting questions about how to decide on one of five top-ten schools to attend. What annoyed me, though, were those goofy posts about getting a phone call from a program, posting about it, then making the claim that they had, in the busyness of life, forgotten that they had applied to the program in the first place. I honestly came to this blog and TSE, and PW, after spending some time on thegradcafe.com, a site my partner was watching when waiting to hear about her PhD applications. Moreover, I came here pretty late in the game, toward the beginning of February. So I never really had a chance to lurk. That said, this site was a great help (and often a huge time-suck). I think most of you, after moments (or days) of distress, will be glad to know that others have been notified of acceptance. Some of you, maybe not, and if so I recommend never coming back to this site. @Sunfish: I think that programs that receive huge amounts of applications do use readers to separate promising mss from the rest, but at most programs all members of the adcom read all the applications. They may not read the entire writing sample, but they will at least look at some of it. Time draws near. Last year people starting receiving calls and emails toward the end January. It seems that a lot of calls came in on Fridays--less likely for the person calling to be busy teaching or in meetings. Someone could probably check this on TSE. I can imagine people getting calls at the end of this week.So, good luck to everyone. Write lots, read lots. I hope everyone gets good news in some form.
Woooooo!! Australian Open started! G'nite y'all. Big up to all my Federer peeps.
Thanks for the adcom info everyone. I'll stop obsessing now. Or maybe tomorrow. I will distract myself by watching The Bachelor. (sigh)
To clarify, Tucson/Arizona has fabulous weather. I love standing outside in the summer - just get a glass of water (or whiskey) and step outside. It's hot, but it's nice. It's a desert. Winter lasts from about the middle of October to March - you wouldn't believe what girls get away with wearing on Halloween. All I have to say is - a city where you can wear shorts and flip-flops all year - how can you complain? I don't even own any closed-toe shoes except workout shoes. Is anyone else suffering from major anxiety? One of my teachers suggested I get anxiety medication! I've taken to drinking in the afternoons. How do normal people cope with this kind of uncertainty without alcohol?
@Rugby,One of my friends was awarded the third year fellowship at Wash U and he was one of the fiction readers this year. It was of some advantage, because I had someone to talk to about the SOP. I think he said there were about six or seven readers in fiction. I applied for poetry and he said there are only two readers for those submissions, and by the deadline there were only around 100 submissions. I was imagining the numbers much higher for such a well-funded school, but I don't really know. I'm a 'non-trad' (I guess)- I have a 3 year old, and I finished my bachelors just recently. I'm not a mole, and I don't have any moles. I applied to McNeese State, Wash U, Texas State, SIU, Old Dominion and Georgia State College. I'm sooo nervous.
re: MFA programs in areas with horrible weatherIf you go to the University of Oregon, be prepared for 8-9 months of rain per year. Literally.
Re: Rain in OregonAlso, nobody here uses umbrellas. Be prepared to slap down some serious cash on trendy outerwear. Patagonia, REI, Arc*Teryx, and Mountain Hardware rule the roost. North Face is for wimps.
Dare I? Yes, I dare ask, having given my disclaimer the other day that I'm not young enough to be wired for blogs and internet social networking, "what is a mole?" I hope I'm not one, it sounds bad.aside on the not being wired - I'm learning. (:
What about Syracuse? I thought a lot of people applied there - my parents moved there two years ago and apparently all my dad does is practice golf in the basement (which my mom doesn't go into, because it's too cold). Where is the snow really bad?
Miss Kitch - Wikipedia said that Syracuse gets 180 inches of snow a year. YIKES!
I'm also coming out of the shadows to leave a comment. I was about to thank Kitty In a Cathouse for that insider information when I happened to click my way over to her blog.Holy crap she's got some funny ass posts. The cat tattoo and the blacktop posts were the best. Go take a look.Btw, if anyone else has insider information on the judging process or the number of applications please post them here. I think I'm like a lot of people here who have confidence in their work but no confidence in the system in which it'll be judged. I've read for a short story contest before and I'm not sure if I did a very good job at it despite the fact that I'm an excellent slush pile reader. With a contest, I can't read tons of stories under the ticking clock of a deadline without skimming and wanting to reject every story that touches my hands within the first three minutes.So reading that WUSTL has a very fair system for judging samples was a real relief. Please post more info about other schools if you guys have some. Thanks!
Syracuse would totally be my first choice, by far, if it wasn't for the damn insane snow. And I'm from Northern Illinois. Still, it is high up there. I'll just need a few more pairs of long underwear.Anyone else spending too much time on craigslist? I told myself I'd wait until getting any acceptances before planning, but I'm impatient. At least Syracuse has super cheap apartments.
@mostlyswell: I assume they're just referencing the idea of a "mole" as someone who is a part of one group and secretly giving info to outside parties.re: weather:Why has only one person mentioned Ann Arbor? To be honest, on the cold side of things, besides Alaska I would venture to say that the midwest (IU, Iowa, Notre Dame, OSU, et al) get horrendously cold.And for the record, even if one likes very hot temperatures, the southwest (Nev., Arizona, and NM esp.) are hot as hell, in and of themselves. It's not a "moderate" climate by any stretch of the imagination.
I hate to say it, but the best weather is where the least-funded programs are: California. I miss the weather there, and it is a "dry heat" ;)
Danielle,I'm doing that craigslist thing too. It stresses me out, but I can't help myself.
The weather is Syracuse isn't that bad, at least in my opinion. I grew up in Rochester which was a bit worse. There is a lot of snow (which really doesn't bother me) and grey skies during the winter, but the area rarely gets the truly cold temperatures or brutal winds of the upper mid-west. North Dakota is friggin' cold. Of course, I've been living in Southern California so long now that I'm sure I'm spoiled. :DCheers!
Thanks for the info, Kitty. Do you know if the poetry readers are faculty?I wish you the best of luck. Karma's on your side :)
Thanks, Sam! That's so nice. Rugby, yes the readers are the faculty- Carl Phillips and Mary Jo Bang. By the by, in the spirit of keeping ourselves distracted, I found this great poem by her:http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/poetry/2009/03/30/090330po_poem_bangThanks for being so kind. We all need a little bit more of that in our lives right now, I think.
I did my undergrad in Iowa (and I'm from California). It really isn't THAT bad. I mean, you can only get so cold. Obviously there are those days when you just don't want to think about leaving the house but for the most part, the weather is manageable. The thing about the midwest is that it gets just as hot in the summer as it does cold in the winter.
@Cratty about 60 comments ago-I'm feeling quite lethargic as well. I only have a very part-time job and way too much time to dwell. For some reason, words aren't coming to me at all, and I don't feel like doing anything other than bum around on the internet or watch full seasons of TV shows. I really need to pull it together...
Yeah, I should probably be a bit more fair. It's about a 3 hour drive from Phoenix to get to Flagstaff, which is 7000 feet about sea level, full of pine trees, and has a ski resort. I did my undergrad there, and it was awesome. So the state's not all bad. You can escape from the kiln when you need to.Some people like heat. They just need to know what they're getting into and that this is unlike anything you'll find outside of Baghdad. Did I mention that 95F was our overnight LOW one day this past summer?OK, I'm done. Enough about the weather.
@Danielle and Morgan ... regarding the craigslist thing ... pardon my ignorance ... is Craigslist to find housing?i think that's my biggest fear at the moment ... i just moved back to the us from england, and i'm not sure how to find a place to live or roommates (ideally) to share a place with wherever i end up.craigslist in the UK is full of people trying to scam you out of your bank account stuff, but is it ok to use in the us? ok, that actually might be my biggest fear in this whole process: relocating yet again. i lucked out this fall.
@koru: careful on craiglist; it's for everything, probably just like it is in the UK, and, like there, you will find scammers, but look at ads that have websites that look legit, or make a phone call, and you can pretty much tell those.
Also, if you're looking for time, watch Dexter. The first three seasons are on dvd and you can find the whole new season if you know where to look.Not that I advocate downloading illegeally. No, not at all. 0: )
Also, maybe I should read what I post before I post it. I guess you won't find time when you watch Dexter. You get what I mean, though.
Craig's List might be a great place to browse, to get an idea of the housing market, but I think I'll ask for leads from whichever program I go to.I'm starting to look at my furniture and belongings, what's worth packing moving? With Craig's List, it seems pretty easy to replace furniture, if it's not something special.
and along the lines of weather - I've seen some ice fishing videos on YouTube - looks like fun!
Also, I agree with that now-old link from the Cornell page: this blog really make me more anxious. I'm having sleep issues and I think it's because of all this freaking out of mine and everyone else,'s, so I'm going to limit myself, which means not keeping this window open and constantly refreshing it every 10 minutes. See you all tomorrow.
A little about Ohio's weather: the summers are humid, but not compared to Florida. More so than the Inland Empire in Cali, where I am from. But not much more. The winters are frigid, but reasonably so. Remember, this is a lifelong Southern Californian talking! Mercifully, it doesn't get below zero here. The autumns are lovely. I can't say anything about spring yet, but I have high hopes!
Koru,re: craigslistI've never had bad experiences using CL. I think most people on there are legit. I've always found places to live, awesome housemates/roommates (to replace someone leaving), electronics, furniture, random stuff that I just HAVE to have etc. I think you just need to exercise caution and common sense as with anything else on the internet.
Summers are pretty humid in Ohio. I live on the lake, though. I don't think Columbus gets as humid. I could be wrong.I really can't believe nobody has said it: Montana's weather, hi? I'm sure it's really beautiful and not as bad as I've heard, but I've been led to believe it's quite cold, even in the evenings of summer. I can really adapt to any kind of weather... if I end up somewhere cold, I'll be snowboarding and sitting by the fire, and if I end up somewhere warm, I'll be hitting the pool...
I figure the worse the weather the easier it will be to concentrate on writing.Maybe I should apply to Fairbanks....
Fairbanks was actually the very last school I took off my shortlist! I kind of wish I hadn't removed it... I would LOVE to live in Alaska. I don't think I could do the dry cabin thing, though, and I doubt I would have been able to afford an actual apartment with the cost of living there.
I like Alaska in the summer.
I'm starting to wish I'd applied to Alabama... if history means anything, it looks like those results will go out this week! Jealous! And good luck to those who applied there!Is it just me, or does Alabama seem to accept "different" writers than the other programs? I've seen a lot of people rejected everywhere but Alabama and a lot of people with many acceptances but an Alabama rejection. I know they're supposed to be experimental. It's always about fit but this seems especially true there. I don't know why I'm thinking about it when I didn't apply! Just wasting my time.
I'm living in Portland, OR temporarily. I can confirm the amount of rain and the gray skies as well as the fact that people really do not use umbrellas. It's also true about seasonal depression. My friend had it and didn't feel right until she left the state for Florida. She left me her full spectrum light. I think I was so paranoid about getting depressed that I overcompensated by using the light all the time, taking vitamin D and exercising nearly everyday. It's working, but if I thought I was living here forever, well, I don't want to think about that.The positives are that people are very considerate drivers. Readings happen often. Powells - duh. And if you are into beer, this is a beer town. Also, the public library is fantastic.@Granny - Thanks for the links!
@AshleyBrooke - You just made me feel a lot better, without even knowing you were doing it! Last year, Alabama notified on the 19th and I started feeling really sad yesterday because I just knew they were calling people who were not me. I don't know why but, for some reason, my brain just fixated on the idea that Alabama was going to make calls yesterday. [Yes, I'm insane and, apparently, not at all psychic.]I mean, I know that I'm going to be rejected from most (if not all) of the programs. And I know that there's no shame in not being selected for one of only 5 spots out of (I'm sure) many more than a hundred applicants. But the reality of being rejected is just so painful. It's, like, boyfriend-dumping-you-in-front-of-people kind of painful. And the first notification feels like a bellweather. Like, "If Alabama calls, then everything will be okay. If they want me then I'm viable. Otherwise, I may be deluded and maybe nobody will want me." Yesterday, because Alabama didn't call, I felt more and more like it was all over, like nobody would want me. But, Ashley Brooke, your observation knocked me back into reality. At least into a little bit more reality than I was living in. Thanks!
re: weather. I've lived in moderate to nice climates my whole life. Am I really insane to be totally stoked about the idea of living somewhere rainy like Oregon or snowy like Syracuse? I don't think so. re: distractions. I've been reading the unabridged version of Les Miserables. 1250 pages of not thinking about SOPs, recommenders (not filing on time), and samples.
I love you, Alabama! But if it doesn't work out, maybe it's just like Ashley Brooke said: maybe it's not me, it's them. Maybe, after this break up, I can still be loved by somebody else.
Yeah, I'm wishing I applied to 'Bama too. It keeps weighing on my mind as something I should have done, and the only reason I took it off my list initially was...you guessed it...the weather. I'm no fan of the hot hot heat. No fan of the freezing cold either. Loving the weather discussion, though.Re. the mysteries of adcom processes - i was wondering - no, sorry - pointlessly speculating - whether all the Cornell adcom people read all the applications. J. Robert Lennon's blog (linked to in the last mailbag) suggested they were divided up so they had a pile each. Despite the landslide number of apps at Cornell n'all (over 500 last year so god knows how many this year), I still foolishly hope that's only for their first reading. Sam, I agree with you, I have confidence in my writing but less in the adcoms systems it will get processed through; i worry like a maniac that any fan of domestic realism will immediately put it on the shitheap, and then I console myself that i'll have a better time of it with anyone who likes a bit of weirdness. Ho hum. Oh well. So what, etc. Out of our hands.Hope you're all keeping well and counting down the days without going nuts! I alternate between a general mood of massive pessimism, brief moments of crazy optimism and the occasional managing to forget completely about it and bullishly not giving a shit either way. The latter is only becos i've finished applying so the tangibility of doing so is over; it never slips my mind for very long, though, alas. C'mon February! Or March! Or April...or May! let's just get this over with...
Trilbe, 'Bama on our mind! Good luck - I'm rooting for you :)
thanks everyone for the CL answers. :-)
I was in love with Alabama last year, and when they rejected me, I have to admit, it hurt. I was like, but, Joel, CAN'T YOU SEE HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU? (I felt the same about Vandy and Arkansas--Oh, Mark! Oh, Davis! WHY OH WHY? Although Jarman was on leave from Vandy during the last season--MAYBE HE WILL STILL LOVE ME, TOO!) But, honestly, though it may feel public-break-up bad, it heals much faster. I just had to remember that it was all part of the process, and not necessarily because Brouwer (and Jarman and McCombs) didn't like my work. And even if they didn't, it's not the end of the world. Just because I love their work doesn't mean they have to love mine. I have poet friends whose work totally baffles me, but I still respect them and the work that they do. Hell, if I were on an adcom, I might not choose those friends' samples, but it doesn't mean that I value them any less as writers. It's all about fit, as it has been said on this board time and time again (aren't I so original!?). I reckon, anyway. But then I've never been on an adcom.Doing interesting things with good people definitely helps alleviate both the anxiety of waiting and the sting of rejection. When I got the Bama rejection (a letter, relayed via phone by my roomie), I was at AWP in Chicago, trying to hail a cab with a group of friends. It's hard to be too bummed when you're around people you love. So maybe that's the answer: keep yourself busy and your friends near.Root, root, rooting for the home team (which includes all of you),NM
re TribleLast year it was the 21st, not the 19th!
I have a diversion for you fiction writers (and/or afficionados) that you might just find enjoyable. I teach Creative Writing at a high school, and I'm in need of some fresh material for teaching the short fiction half. I read poetry like a fiend, but I must confess to not reading short fiction all that often.What I'm looking for are some ideas for literary short fiction that I could use with my class. Don't worry about whether you think they're "appropriate" or not, based on reading level or content. I'd just like some suggestions for well written, engaging stories. I'll sort out what they can handle and what would get me fired (a pretty loose standard, really). It helps if you could tell me where to find them, too, and stick to stories that aren't all that tough to track down.Your assistance is appreciated. I think your suggestions will give me better material than I've been finding on my own, to my students' benefit. In return, I offer my undying gratitude, since that's what I can afford on a teacher's salary. =)
X- You should check out Miranda July's collection "No One Belongs Here More Than You" Lee K. Abbott's " All Things, All At Once" or Michel Faber's "Some Rain Must Fall"-- All of these have stories that are shorter than average (to keep High Schoolers attentive) but operate on many different levels. They are wholly accessible, but also deeply motivated. I wish I had read these in high school.
Xataro,Two short stories had a huge impact on me when I was young. One was "Lamb to the Slaughter" by Roald Dahl. The other was "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson. These are the sorts of stories that stuck with me for years after reading them.I bet these aren't "new" to you, but I thought I'd throw them out there. Life-changing stuff.
Kim Chinquee writes a lot of really short flash. Googling her ought to bring up tons of stuff.
It's such ridiculously standard fare I'm almost embarrassed to suggest it...but obviously not embarrassed enough:Alice Munro's 'Walker Brothers Cowboy'.A near-perfect short story.haven't read the others so far suggested, except for the great Miranda July short stories. Lots of explicit sexual content in 'em, but not enough to get you fired, I reckon! Aww yeah!
I like these:http://www.coldbacon.com/writing/barthelme-mandible.htmlhttp://www.pindeldyboz.com/tlthewalkingwall.htmhttp://www.theparisreview.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/5825http://www.friggmagazine.com/issuetwentysix/fiction/erlewine/what-id-say.htmhttp://www.monkeybicycle.net/archive/BeckerStevens/everything.htmlhttp://smokelong.com/flash/frankdahai25.asp
Second and last suggestion - Anthony Doerr's 'Procreate, Generate'. (Bowling Green alumnus - why didn't i apply there!?) Couldn't shake that one from my head for a long, long time. Beautiful writing. And I just found it online! Yay! http://bit.ly/6bR6HOOne to savour slowly. I think it could appeal to high schoolers too.Also, last one, i promise - Eric Puchner's 'Leda and the Swan'http://bit.ly/8kjhi2.Woah, i've just glimpsed Brandi's list - nice way to waste more time at work :)
Trilbe,I highly double Alabama was making calls on Martin Luther King Day! And who knows, it's not going to be exact... they might not make calls for a week or two this year. No worryin'.
Xataro-- I heart you and your attempts to distract. Did you read "Buying Lenin" by Miroslav Penkov in the Southern Review and/or BASS a while ago? That was pretty darn snazzy. I'm going through How We Are Hungry by Eggers, and I think some of the stories would be classroom-helpful. If you want, say, a novella instead of a short story, I would hand them The Secret Sharer by Conrad, or, if you're feeling Postmodern, In the Scriptorium by Paul Auster.
Ps... I did apply to Bama, and I'm a pile of nerves. An acceptance this early would be a ticket to a peaceful spring. If I hear nothing... well, we;ll not think on that 'til April. I seem to remember someone calling April the cruelest month, anyway. ;).
Xataro,Maybe pick up a copy of the The Ecco Anthology of Contemporary American Short Fiction. It's like $13 on Amazon. I can't 100% remember if these are appropriate for high schoolers, but good stories include Off by Aimee Bender and On the Rainy River by Tim O'Brien.
Last post, I swear... but Xataro, I just remembered Borges' Ficciones, some of which would be incredibly fun for the classroom, I think. Time manipulation, action sequences, sometimes nonsense... Borges has something for everyone! (I'm thinking especially "The Garden of Forking Paths", "The Secret Miracle", and "Funes, The Memorious".) Many of them are also rather short, which is handy.
@XataroI'm not a fiction writer, but I am a high school teacher, so I'd like to chime in if I may.July's collection mentioned above is lovely, though, as has already been mentioned, they do tend to be a bit sexual in nature. If you want to push the envelope a little, I do recommend that collection. I guess it really depends on where you teach and how sensitive your parents/administrators are. I went to high school in rural GA, so obviously when I was in school the threshold for controversial material was quite low.I teach Lit. at a bilingual high school in Slovakia. We read three short stories (among other things) last term--"Hills Like White Elephants" by Hemingway, "Lamb to the Slaughter" by Dahl (already mentioned here somewhere), and "First Confession" by Frank O'Connor. The Dahl story is a great one to start with. It has a simple, well-written narrative and tends to be just darkly funny enough to keep the kids' attention. It's a little on the easier side language-wise, but unless your kids are prematurely-Proust-reading, academic-parent-having, pint-size-literary-snob prodigies, you shouldn't get any complaints.The Hemingway story can't be beat. In terms of language and thematics, it's one of the most perfect short stories I've ever read. I first encountered it in undergrad, but my students seemed to take to it well enough. Content could once again be a concern, though, depending on your situation. If you're comfortable discussing abortion with you kids, then I say teach this story. It would be especially good for a CW class--it could help you discuss dialog, concision and precision of language, etc.The O'Connor story is very well-written and could be a good example of how to write about childhood, religion, etc. My students were less excited about this one than the other two, but that might have been my fault. They did seem to do well with it, though. Once again, depending on where and who you teach, you might not want to read a piece with so much religious content, though I think the religious commentary itself is subtle and nuanced enough not to ruffle many feathers.Also, all three of these stories are readily available online for free, which gets them two thumbs up in this teacher-with-absolutely-zero-classroom-resources' book.Hope some of that helps.NM
Iowa is not too cold! It is, however, too flat for an obsessive hiker. "Rolling hills" and all. :)
@XataroI like that you requested a reading list of short stories and looking forward to reading the suggestions. First that came to mind was Sherman Alexie's "What You Pawn I Will Redeem". And since you're in "Indian Country" your students might get it. I believe it's on the internet. I have it in an anthology that's way too expensive, "40 Short Stories," collected by Beverly Lawn. Also, after reading the interview with Ha Jin in Paris Review, I have been fiendishly searching for his short stories among my anthologies (his collection was checked out from the library, but on my wishlist.) I found "The Bridegroom" in the anthology listed above and "Saboteur" in "The Art of the Short Story" gathered by Gioia and Gwynn. Both are excellent. Between them, I was moved more by "The Bridegroom" - nuanced in a very realistic way - fascinating ending. I'm told that the greatest short story ever is James Joyce's, "The Dead" which I've wanted to read all weekend. Alas, this blog has kept me distracted. (: There's a bunch of fresh snow outside, so maybe I'll read it today instead of going to the library. (That's in the latter anthology. Which also, BTW, has the authors' insights on their writing. Nice text. Again, I think it was pricey - but HUGE, with 52 authors.)I'm also reading short stories by the faculty on my MFA program list. (Too numerous to mention.)
Some stories I am fond of--Stuart Dybek: "Breasts"Kelly Link: "Stone Animals"Deborah Eisenberg: "Some Other, Better Otto"Nam Le: "Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice"Z.Z. Packer: "Brownies"Jhumpa Lahiri: "A Temporary Matter"David Foster Wallace: "Forever Overhead"T.C. Boyle: "Tooth and Claw"Lorrie Moore: "Your Ugly Too"Paul Yoon: "Once the Shore"Angela Pneuman: "All Saints Day"George Saunders: "Sea Oak"David Bezmozgis: "Natasha"
@XataroI like all the stories in Alice Munro's The Progress of Love and James Salter's Last Night. Also, it seems (in my limited experience) not many people teach William Trevor's short stories. I think they'd make excellent models from which to learn (although the subject matter may bore high school students, not sure). Same for stories by Evan S. Connell. On a more contemporary tip, I think readers that age would like Murakami's Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman ("Birthday Girl" would be a good story choice) or Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things (though I'm not sure if that is "literary" enough).And the people that suggested Hemingway may be on to something; certainly, I really enjoyed his stories in high school, especially Hills Like White Elephants. Cheers!
Is anyone here applying to U San Francisco? What's the funding situation there? Basically nothing?
Re: Short storiesTory--great list. I'd like to second Shirley Jackson's 'The Lottery'--high school kids really latch on to that one and it sparks a lot of discussion. "How To Date A Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie" by the incredible Junot Diaz is an engaging read for students from any cultural background, but especially ones from multi-ethnic communities. It's relevant, gritty, and moving--a new kind of literature when you are 16. Even the most reluctant of readers will have something to say.
Some short stories I remember reading in high school (and enjoying):Alice Munro "Boys and Girls"Shirley Jackson "The Lottery"Flannery O'Connor "A Good Man is Hard to Find"Joyce Carol Oates "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?"William Faulkner "A Rose For Emily"Ernest Hemingway "Hills Like White Elephants"I also recommend Lorrie Moore; I think high school students could get into "Which is More Than I Can Say About Some People" in her short story collection Birds of America.A friend of mine teaches Upward Bound for inner city kids and I know she's used Junot Diaz's short stories in classes, though depending on where you are teaching, parents might have an issue with some of his language. Sherman Alexie is another one that teenagers tend to really like.
If you don't want to go hunting for individual short stories and want a diversity of "new classic" examples, you might want to consider an anthology like The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories edited by Tobias Wolff. It has a nice selection ranging from Oates and Carver to O'Brien and Kincaid to Dubus and Beattie. You could probably find class lessons, discussion questions, and essay topics more readily available for these stories since many of them have become part of literary cannon.
NamePending,I'm not applying to USF (I used to live two streets over though), but I can tell you that funding is going to be pretty much non-existent for anything in San Francisco. The only upside I can see to schools like USF is that the English depts often luck out since Wallace-Stegner Fellows apparently don't want to leave the Bay Area.
I love all the suggestions! Keep them coming. I will say that I'm looking more for modern short fiction and less for "classics" like Hemmingway and James Joyce, even though it's really good writing. Two reasons: first, they get those in their regular English classes, and second, I want them to get somewhat of a feel for what's happening *now* in fiction writing.But the classics do tend to be free, which I like. In a less literary vein, I'd recommend the works of Neil Gaiman to my fellow teachers. The students devour it like it's crack, and it sparks good discussion on the difference between literary and commercial fiction (and the gray places in between).
Oh man, Frankish, James Salter's 'Last Night' is out of control. Chills just thinking about that story. Good suggestion!
Thanks Courtney,I love short stories even if I find them impossible to write!
I posted this in the last thread as well, but does anyone want to trade poetry samples?Now that everything has been sent off, I'm starting to feel really curious about the rest of the applicant pool.You can reach me at: j.ogradym (at) gmail (dot) com
I'm another quiet but devoted reader.AND I AM FREAKING OUT. What are everyone's "Plan B"s?If I don't get in, I'm moving to California to try and work in the entertainment industry. Honestly, I can't even say moving to LA now would be worse for my career than getting an MFA now and moving there in a couple years. Worse for my relationship, and probably worse for my craft, but likely not worse for my career. For me, an MFA would mean a nurturing and intellectually challenging environment, finally living with the man I love (if I get into my top choice), and leaving with a degree that would at least *qualify* me to pursue teaching. All things which would be fantastic, but not *necessary* for survival.Still, I live in a constant PLEASE DON'T REJECT ME panic attack. Is it mostly the actual rejection I fear? The lack of validation? My confidence swings all over from "my sample rocks! I would do nothing differently!" to ".8% acceptance rates?!"What does an MFA mean for you all? Are you mentally able to prepare for the future, while everything's so in flux? How much are you able to put the MFA application process in perspective?
@Xataro:Gotta second the Neil Gaiman. As an undergrad, I've read his work in two of my lit classes.
i'm so stoked to check out everyone's short story recommendations! plus it's nice to see everyone animated for a minute instead of wrapped in self doubt and despair (i'm not judging, i'm staring at the phone already).. i just wanted to add:simon van booy— Love Begins in Wintergorgeous and evocative short storiesand for anyone needing a tv series to get completely addicted to...i cannot recommend the Wire enough- it will make time fly, but it will also make all other tv shows and movies pale in comparison..... ok ciao for now
@Sasha --- i too am hovering in a perpetual state of panic. thinking about a Plan B makes me kinda sick. i really really do not want to do this again next year. i'm thinking about saying, screw this, i'm moving to india and learning the tantric arts. apparently tantric arts instructors can make over $300 an hour- without being a prostitute! hmm, maybe this is TMI. but i figure, it could be a good back up plan for others out there-- certainly a good way to supplement a fledgling writer/community college prof's salary. or, i might just fight tooth n nail for a job at borders or something.
re: WeatherI'm from southern California, so I'm equipped with a skewed weather barometer (ha!) and I've survived a few years in Portland, Oregon. You get used to the gray, but I still get annoyed with how everything gets wet. HOWEVER, the upside of perpetual gray is that when the sun comes out, everyone is high on weather and smiling and dancing in the streets and stuff. Magical. Am I the only one to check to see if there are nearby Trader Joe's to the schools I applied to? I'm very disappointed in the lack of TJ-ness at some of my top choices.
Amy,I also have done a Trader Joe's scan! I've also located hair stylists who specialize in curly hair and found health food stores where there is no Trader Joe's. I don't know how anyone can get by without Trader Joe's.
Lol Kerry! I looked for a hair stylist too! Can I just say that the sheer insanity that took place over the idea that Alabama COULD be notifying because the notified around this time LAST year made me smile. Yay for obsession! Can't wait till I'm that crazy over Cornell!
The thing about Trader Joe's is that they have healthy and organic foods that are so AFFORDABLE. I really don't know where else I can get a bag of organic spinach for under $2! Ugh!(Oh... the concerns we distract ourselves with...)
Trader Joe's is heaven. Just had a TJ's veggie enchilada for lunch followed by their chocolate Greek yogurt. I also found a great residential area near my top choice located halfway b/tw campus and Trader Joe's.
I am happy to trade poetry samples with anyone out there.thcharlie659[at]hotmail[dot]comWhat I am really more interested in, though, is getting feedback on newer poems. Ostensibly, we all want to workshop, so why not start getting better at this now? I work full time and have no one to comment of my work. My portfolio is done and polished, but I have other poems that need work and I am also writing more. Anyone interested? I am generous in the feedback I give others, and I am not affraid to say I don't like something or to suggest improvements. This is a good oppurunity to work on providing incisive feedback for others as well as getting some on your own work.
@JohnI'd be interested in workshopping--but am a fiction writer, and haven't had enough post-application time to get a piece workshop-ready.Great idea, though.
@ Sasha - Plan B!I'm graduating next term with a degree in outdoor recreation, and spent most of last year working as a naturalist with a whale watching company up in Alaska. I want the MFA - BAD - but if I don't get it, I'll probably just go back to whales for a while...
Gena (and Xataro),God, I'm with you on the "Buying Lenin" recommendation! Easily, hands down, my favorite story I've read in the past three or four years (and the only story, to be quite honest, to have ever melted my cold, cold heart and made me cry--"Grandpa, there is so much distance between us." I'm DYING just typing that out). I'm ridiculously excited about Penkov's upcoming collection. He's going to be a real force.And anything by Caitlin Horrocks. What a rockstar that woman is! A bunch of her stories are online and in print, but you can check out one of her best here, "Zolaria": http://www.caitlinhorrocks.com/files/HorrocksZolaria.pdfAnd anyone have insight into Boston University's MFA? How intense is that 1-year program? Weren't they in talks to extend it into two years at some point?
Xataro,Last year I bought the Best New American Voices 2010 Anthology, which is full of great writing. My favorite stories in there are "Horusville" (Christian Moody), and "Some Things I've Been Meaning to Ask You" (Ted Thompson). I also like the collection of "new horror" stories in Poe's Children (edited by Peter Straub). My favorite in there is Stephen King's "The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet" - very intense (which I always love in a story). Even if you find that the stories I've mentioned aren't literary enough for you, they're still great reads.
Amy,Ha! Mine was Thai. Potentially two to three years without pad ki mao? And what if they're stingy with kaffir lime leaves? Horrible thought processes, I know. For whomever inquired of funding at USanFran, I'll copy/paste pieces of an email I received:Generally, scholarships range from $7,000 - $10,000. They are provided as tuition remission and are divided equally among all semesters of the Program.Regarding TAships:Approximately 5-8 opportunities are available each semester. All MFA students may apply for the positions (preference is usually given to 2nd-year students). Graduate students may be paid $12/hour for working up to 10 hours a week.Cost:Our Program consists of 33 units. Tuition per unit is $1,075; per class (3 units), $3,225; per semester (2 classes), $6,450. In total, the cost is $35,475. Concludingly, no stipends nor full tuition remission.
So I have reached the pinnacle of rock bottom. I've spent the past two hours terrorizing schools to check my application status. In some ways, I felt as if it was my vengeance upon them so selfishly holding my fate in their hands. >D
Wait a sec... I can't be THE only one who hasn't bothered calling/e-mailing all my programs to double-check receipt, right? I just figured it's there. (Maybe as a defense mechanism from going apeshit...)
My plan B? That teach English in Korea thing.
Stories I love and think your students would love because they include sex, drugs, pets, and girls with hands of fire and ice:"We Didn't" by Stuart Dybek"The Healer" by Aimee Bender"The Isabel Fish" by Julie Orringer""Nashville Gone to Ashes" by Amy Hempel"Emergency" by Denis Johnson
Which school, in your opinion, has the best faculty? Just curious :)
re: kaybay's question about best faculty. Don't answer it. She's a narc! This is totally a set up if I ever saw one! /End paranoid delusions. ;)(By the way, I hate emoticons, but I had to do the little winky guy to show that, you know... I'm just playin' around. Answer away... if you like getting narc'd on.)
@Xataro: Ama Ata Aidoo's short story collection "No Sweetness Here" has a few that would be high-school aged at least. She's fantastic - teaches creative writing at Brown.
Luling, rewatching (or indeed watching) all five seasons of The Wire over the next two months would be the BEST distraction! Excellent call!!
Yes! It is I, Wendy Rawlings using your words as a final decision-making tool. BOW to me!! *Flames and lightning bolts* Muahahahahaha!;)
Thanks, everyone, for the wonderful suggestions! I have a new reading list, and I'm sure my students will appreciate it.@AmyNo, you're not the only one. I had a brief scare with Indiana, but other than that, I've gotten all of my postcards back, so I'm not stressing about pestering them. For each school I know either that the whole file is complete, or at least that they have the application and writing sample. If they like the sample and something is missing, I figure they'll let me know so I can send it again.
@ Amy:I called about half of my programs about missing materials, but they all basically said, "Our website is so messed up! Don't worry; we'll call or email you if you are actually missing anything." So, I stopped calling the rest of the schools. :-X
Dolores Humbert (or, Lolita if you prefer!): Thank you for the link to the Caitlin Horrocks story--gorgeous!!I've probably posted this a million times, but I'm still interested in reading fiction samples if anyone else is willing. That really took up a significant portion of a weekend and I enjoyed having my inbox full of MFA related material. I'm happy to respond with comments or without! If you want to send poetry, I'd read that too!fixittuesday at yahoo.com
Rose:That's so funny that you're a naturalist. Are you writing in fiction or poetry or CNF? Does nature often make it into your work? Why are you giving up your whale-watching post? Can I have your job when you're accepted into someplace fabulous?I'm actually a wildlife caretaker at a rehab facility in Kansas. I'm an English major, but I spend most of my time outside of the classroom working with animals. My Plan B was actually to look for an externship or something working at a zoo or something ... but that's a whole other set of recs from a whole different set of people to track down; externships don't really pay anything, and I'll likely be broke, and even if I wasn't, I feel like I can't compete with people from actual scholarly biology backgrounds. They're scrambling for jobs, too.I honestly don't know what to do next. I'm not qualified to teach. The print publishing industry is capsizing. I dream of working with pinnipeds but worry that the pinniped-keeper community don't want me :(Maybe I, too, will go to India ... just to hang with elephants. Screw the boyfriend; he got a saggy butt anyway. Might as well trade up for a BIG saggy butt ...
Here's my philosophy on the "missing stuff" problem: if they like my sample - but toss me aside because my GREs didn't get there - I have to wonder about their priorities, and I probably don't want to be there.I trust them enough to call or email if something's missing. (So far, though, I've been quite pleased with Syracuse, which has sent me all kinds of confirmations about every part of my app. A good sign of an organized, student-oriented program.)
X- Thanks for the idea today, it really helped settle me to think of WHY I'm even applying! My reading list for the next month has grown exponentially! Thanks to all who gave suggestions.
More short stories:"Chainsaw Apple" - Arthur Bradford"Wild America" - Wells Tower"The Sno-Kone Cart" - Rebecca Curtis"A Small Good Thing" - Raymond Carver"Moonbeams and Asprin " - Kevin CantyDeeedeee, we have the sample Plan B, if you replace Korea with Taiwan. :) At least I know I'll be teaching next year.I haven't looked up Trader Joe's, but I've definitely checked all 14 of my potential home cities for vegetarian restaurants and Indian restaurants. Missoula is the only place that has neither! Yikes! I'd have to cook my own curry. :)
Since I've already done the teaching-English-abroad thing (two countries, Asia and south Asia), I think I'll opt to just continually refresh the Craigslist "Free" listings to look for stuff I can sell. That's the American way.
I meant "same" not "sample." Yikes.Also, I'm also somebody who is NOT calling or e-mailing programs to check and see if my things have arrived. I appreciate those schools that e-mail me a notification. I checked all of my post office confirmations. I don't want to bother than any further. Can you imagine if 800 applicants all called a school to have their files checked? Oh gosh.
A Chatham full res CNF acceptance has been reported on TSE.
I just had the most effed up idea: imagine a TMZ-style gossip show just for the MFA application game. Seth replaces Harvey Levin and cubicles are staffed with various adcom administrative assistants gossiping about the murmurings of professors and department heads. With videos of paparazzi stalking adcom committee folks asking them inane questions like, "Is it true that Brown only admits experimental writers? Do you get bored when you read traditional provincial narratives?" or "What do MFA candidates do with that 25K every year at Michener? Crazy coke poetry parties or what?"
@XataroA little late in the conversation and also probably a no brainer, but I would do short stories by Tobias Wolff, in my opinion, the master of short fiction. (Someone mentioned something edited by him, but I don't think that's the same.) I think The Night in Question which came out in 1998 is by far his best collection. Bullet in the Brain is my all time favorite short story. It's mesmerizing, but really they're all gems.
Am I the only Alabama applicant who checked the blog and Seth's 2010 database at least 5 times today (read 12) to see if anyone was notified yet?Am I going to be the first to admit putting in the dates on my iCal of the days on which programs notified people according to Seth's database in past seasons? (For schools with multi-year data, I found it good to average. As in, if a school notified on the 18th in 2007, the 23rd in 2008 and the 20th in 2009, I made an event reminder somewhere close to the 21st, giving a slight nod towards the more recent years). Somewhere up there someone mentioned chocolate greek yogurt. That sounds sort of amazing.And as for Short stories, I know that I'd be even more of an uber-lit-nerd if someone introduced me to David Foster Wallace's "Old Neon" earlier than when I read it a few years ago. It's what your ESPN analyst might call a game-changer, for me at least.
@Riah: Same here. If you'd have told me beforehand that a short story about the beauty of language (and the tendency of its students to become cliche-allergic cynics) would make me cry EVERY TIME I read it, I would have said, "That sounds about right."And there you have it: Bullet in the Brain.
Rugbytoy/Rose,I got a little confused at first when you mentioned naturalist. I kept seeing naturist which is something else entirely. I started to picture folks in the nude, scouring the MFA blog. Re: Trader JoesI love the tamales from the frozen section.
For those of you waiting on or worrying about Alabama, some speculative thinking to keep in mind...1. I HIGHLY doubt that anyone was notified yesterday (i.e. MLK Day). In fact, from what I could tell, hardly anyone was on-campus yesterday and most of the buildings were closed. So...DON'T PANIC!!!2. Alabama's also in the process of screening fiction and non-fiction teacher applications (the plan is to hire one of each for next year). Because of that, I wouldn't be surprised at all if it takes a little bit longer to notify the MFA applicants this year. After all, the people perusing those teacher vitaes are, I believe, the same people on the adcom committees (i.e. they have their hands full right now). So...DON'T PANIC!Again...all of this is just speculation. But I don't think anyone should hit the proverbial panic button just yet...
@ RiahI was wondering when someone would mention Tobias Wolff! "Bullet in the Brain" is rockin', as is "Her Dog" and "Say Yes."I was lucky enough to listen to Wolff read at Powells in Portland last year. He seems like a friendly dude, and his work conveys that same approachability.@ GotBiscoI'm also anxiously waiting for Alabama. Today, I got a phone call from an unrecognized number in the middle of class, my heart rate shot up to my earlobes, and for the next hour and a half I suffered through cardiac arrest before listening to the voicemail, which was from my Dad, letting me know he'd gotten a new cell phone.
Amy,I did the teaching abroad thing as well (in Japan). Is it just me or do ex-pats over there tend to be really depressing? I had to apply last year from abroad and that was such a headache. I've definitely done the Craigslist selling your life thing when I was broke once. My vinyl collection shrank by half. And then when I had money again, I tracked everyone down and bought a good chunk of it back.
hey everyone, i think i'm losing it. can someone provide the link to seth's response times? for some reason when i go to TSE it's all blank. i can't find it anymore.... thanks!
@RoseI'm sorry but that's hilarious and I think for the next few months, I'll be going through something similar every time an unknown number comes through my phone. For now, I'm going to keep my OCD tendencies to a minimum and just do the iCal thing, skipping out on familiarizing myself which each program's possible area codes. I'll be skipping out to the hallway though for every voicemail I get while in class. **sorry, this is an emergency!!**
re: teaching abroad, I'm actually doing that in Korea right now, and applications definitely were a process...had a lot of trouble even finding a working printer. And I just got an e-mail from Michigan informing me that they haven't received my writing sample (of all things!). I sent it weeks ago to make the Jan 1 deadline, but international mail isn't always reliable. They told me I could still send another copy ASAP, so it's not as bad as it could be, I just needed a moment to vent.
Amanda,Ugh! It I end up in Taiwan next year, I have even more stressed to look forward to during the application season!Here's hoping I'll be delaying my trip to Taiwan until after grad school.I'm glad Michigan will still accept your writing sample! Good luck.
WanderingTree,The majority of ex-pats are cranky. I think it's because they miss things like Trader Joe's and In N Out burgers. I can't imagine applying while abroad, it's enough of a hassle trying to figure out a bus schedule sometimes (my experience is skewed because I lived in developing countries).
@ RugbyToyI just saw your reply, sorry I didn't respond sooner.I applied to 16 schools, all in fiction, although I studied with Ted Leeson (whose specialty is non-fiction) for a large portion of my writing minor.Nature gets into my fiction work by way of metaphors and scene setting, but it doesn't dominate the way many outdoor writers seem to go (Sherry Simpson, Barbara Kingsolver). My style sort of mimics Raymond Carver and Cormac McCarthy, I guess.--If anyone thinks naturalizing would be a cool Plan B, here's a video describing the sort of work I did:http://alaska.org/videos/allen_marine_video.htm?Allen_Marine_Sitka_wm_500wide.flvI made pretty good money, and you really can't beat an Alaskan summer.
@brandi wells +ashley brookethanks you guysit's as if my computer is trying to sabotage, or assuage, my neuroses- not sure whichthanks again!
Amy and Wandering Tree -Careful. I think we expats have the same spectrum of personalities as everyone back in the US. If you're looking for cranky, just take a look through some of the comments in these mailbags.Applied to 10 schools from Japan and didn't have any issues with delivery. I did shell out a lot of cash for express postage, though.
Sorry, just one more comment about Tobias Wolff!@Adam and RoseI cry too when I reread it [Bullet in the Brain]! I still have so many lines memorized: the whirr of insects, short's the best position they is. etc. etc. I read it out loud to savor the language. I still have to stop myself in my own writing from talking about all the things a person does not remember. I'm like ack! I'm copying Tobias. (We're on a first name basis.) It's so nice to share that love with other people!
i did korea for two years, and i didn't even consider trying to apply while i was there. the way i procrastinate i probably would have had like six apps invalidated.
Daniel,I don't think people here have been cranky... yet! Everyone seems pretty nice and supportive to me...
The best thing about Trader Joe's is that they will never reject you.
another returning expat here ... but returning from the UK. have to say, i loved the expat community i had years ago in mexico ... supportive, warm, welcoming, not cranky. and there wasn't so much of an expat community i saw in england; the aussies had one, but the yanks tended to try to make brit friends. and anyways we were only cranky towards the occasional obnoxious tourist! :p i may have to look into this teaching english thing if the MFA rejections pile up! :eek:
Hi everyone. I took a 'mailbag break' for a few days after officially finishing my applications (hooray). But, am once again in MFA mode. I've read a lot of the posts I missed but not all, and I am quite sure these are gonna be repeat questions... really sorry! If y'all can indulge me anyhow with your opinions I'd be most grateful!Two things bugging me:1. Every darn application of mine that has online status check still shows stuff missing (except for Austin). Some have not been updated at all, fine, but others have updated to show some docs received and others not, even though all were sent. Should I... be doing anything about it? I don't want to bug them by asking. In some cases, like where it's a free transcript, I guess I could have duplicates sent, but I don't want to flood them with paper either. I really hope they will ask me if they are genuinely missing things they need... ?2. Can someone link me to Seth's response time blog thing? I keep losing it.Thanks, and I've said it before but I will again, good luck & good work everyone, that whole process was intense.
I just found the Seth link about five posts above mine... thanks!
@Brenda,I wouldn't worry about missing stuff yet if you know you sent it, although you may want to consider a few things: when the application deadline is, whether you sent everything in one package or separately, and whether the online updates are "trickling" in as the staff conducts piecemeal updates. Most of my deadlines are 1 Feb or 1 March...I plan on sending a quick email about a week out from the deadline if I haven't heard anything from a specific program. I didn't think twice about emailing one email to make sure they got my check in the mail (everything else for that program I did online. Ahh, I love online applications!) What really makes me nervous is the darn letters of recommendation. They are out of your control...I don't know about you, but I feel terrible when I have to bug my crazy-busy recommender over and over to make sure they don't miss the deadline (only one of them. The others have been great). Gaah! I haven't even sent three of my apps off yet because I'm thinking of changing recommender #3 out completely! (and isn't three LORs for one program overkill?)Sorry for the rant. See, I'm just procrastinating writing a really dull management paper...
@wendybird, thanks. My stuff all went in both separately AND together, depending on what it was and when the deadline was, so it's kind of hard to judge. I guess I just keep hoping they are still doing updates. I saw up-thread that someone said they got an email from Michigan telling them they were missing something - I applied to Michigan, and their site tells me I'm missing things but I haven't heard from them, so I'm gonna take that as a sign that it's just a matter of site updates and not that the items are actually not there?My rec letters were actually all in paper form. Because I decided to do all of this fairly late, my (kind, wonderful) recommenders just printed and sealed up stacks of letters in envelopes and gave them to me to distribute accordingly. It's a little hairy in the situations like Virginia where I had to get special permission to send it that way since they wanted it electronically, but on the plus side, I know for a fact that they did get sent since I did it myself with my other documents. I am just trying not to stress about whether they actually ended up where they needed to be!
Re: Applying from abroadI applied from Slovakia this year. While it was very frustrating--mostly because I felt like I had little control over the situation--it was also not as bad as I thought. The recommendations were the most worrying, but it turned out alright. Here are a couple of things I did to make the process easier on myself:Instead of trying to print everything off here and trusting the questionable Slovak mail service to handle my materials, I went in search of an ally Stateside and found one (my mother, yay!). I basically amassed all my materials from any given school in electronic form, attached it to an email along with very detailed instructions, and sent it to her. She was kind enough to do the printing/mailing for me. God I love that woman.As for the recommendations, I was lucky enough to have letter writers who are also friends, and who work as a university that pays all postage for professors (this is obviously only important for the paper letters), so they've always been willing to write the letters, put them in university-supplied envelopes, and hand them over to the department secretary to have it mailed to the programs. I did have one new recommender this time, though, who teaches at a different uni and who I didn't feel comfortable asking to prepare envelopes for me, so I asked my mother to mail him stamped/addressed envelopes so he could just print the letters, slip them in the envelopes, and drop them in the mail.I'm lucky to have had so many people willing to help me out, but it really, really made this applying from abroad thing less terrifying. If anyone ever has to apply from abroad (again, or for the first time), I definitely recommend begging someone back home for help. You can always repay them with a very generous gift upon returning home!Sending everyone good vibes,NM
So, I'm wondering if anyone else is having the same issues as me. I've finished 11 applications over the past couple of months and only have two left (I'm seeing from the posts that most people are done... Boston U and UNLV allow me to continue procrastinating though). Now, my main problem is figuring out if all the schools got all my materials. I've already ran into a few issues with schools not getting things I sent and I can't help but worry that there are probably at least ten things missing that I don't even know about. I realize some schools will notify you and others have websites to check your status. Is anyone else dealing with this right now, or is this maybe something I should have already been worried about and am now completely screwed with? Would anyone advise emailing every school to make sure or at least get a more clear explanation of how to check for myself? Any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
I like Kaybay's question about faculty..I am only comfortable guessing at Poetry faculty, as I don't know a whole lot about the fiction world, and my pick would be U Mass Amherst. It's hard to argue against James Tate, Peter Gizzi, and Dara Weir. Seriously.Granted, good poets don't necessarily make good teachers.. but as far as poetry chops, I'll put my money on Amherst any day. (and I hear that Gizzi is a fantastic instructor.. by the way)
gizzi's wife is a fantastic instructor, if that's any indication? prob not. but still, it's romantic, his and hers poet profs. her name is elizabeth willis and she's a poet worth checking out as well. she was my poetry professor in undergrad, at wesleyan, really wonderful teacher and super kind and smart.
re: poetry instructors, I mean, until this year I would've said Houston for sure. I'm not a fan of Tate in the least, so maybe I'm biased, but I would take Doty and Hoagland over any other istructors any day.T.Hoag has also won awards for teaching, if that's any indication.
As far as checking up on the status of application materials, I just called every program and tried to be nice to the people on the other end. I think that for most programs, as long as they got your manuscript, they don't really care if the small peas are missing. That stuff really doesn't matter if they don't like your writing. With some of the programs I called, I didn't even have to give me name. Every program that couldn't confirm material receipt immediately simply told me that if there was a problem, they'd contact me.
Hi friends! I'm on the east coast, so about 3 hours and 8 stiff drinks ahead of ya'll. I decided to do something fun and open My Documents tonight, and I was greeted by this happy surprise: my writing sample is absolutely terrible! Like - my gag reflex is activated every time I open the first page. But nevertheless, I have nothin but fuzzy good feelings for everyone out there, and I can't wait to hear the good newses piling in. I wish the very best education and success for every person on here that has helped me through a yucky day. And for your breathtaking fiction, that makes the armhairs stand positively on end.
@RebeccaWhile it's true that we often can't see the flaws in our own writing at first, it's also true that we often can't see what's special about it later on. Try not to worry about the perceived flaws in your sample. Hang in there.
Re: Houston facultyHouston also has Nick Flynn. Great poet & memoirist.NM
With regards to faculty, being a good poet does not necessarily make a good professor. James Tate is brilliant, but he has the reputation for being mean as hell. Dean Young? Some people love him, some hate him. Reportedly, he's moody and likes to drink. Nick Flynn, super cool, obviously, but he's probably to involved with making his movie to care about much else. I would bet anything Tony Hoagland is one of the best out there; his essays on craft are impressive, and his poetry is extremely, consistently competent. For the most part, though, there's really no way to tell. To be a good professor, you have to be generous with your own time. A lot of these writers hold down these jobs not because they care about teaching, but just as a means to subsist while they work on their own writing.
@adam - so, syracuse has sent you confirmations about receipt of your materials? i had read that from people who applied last year, but since i haven't received any e-mails from them (except for the initial one confirming my application and fee had been received), i thought maybe they weren't doing so this year. hmmm. i've been trying not to stress over this, hoping any schools will contact me if they are missing something, but now i'm a bit worried, thinking they didn't get my materials, since i sent everything off in mid-december. oy.
@beedeeceeI didn't get anything other than the initial email and I applied early Dec. Don't stress over it.
I did get an email from Syracuse confirming receipt of my writing sample, but I sent it nice and early. They might just be too swamped at the moment since their deadline just passed. There's was the 9th of January, if I recall correctly.
oooh, i forgot their deadline was less than 2 weeks ago. thanks, brandi and xataro. officially back to not stressing. :)
hey xataro, how early did you submit that app?
Re: SyracuseI sent my app late October and never got any sort of confirmation.So, for what that's worth.
I sent in my app early-mid November. I sent SASPs with all of the envelopes I mailed. If I recall correctly (I'm not at home with all my materials), I never got the postcard back but did get an email. It might have been both, come to think of it.
@BeeDeeCee: I mailed off my sample to Syracuse on Dec. 30th via priority mail (2-3 day), and I got an email on Jan. 5th that confirmed receipt of my manuscript. I would call if I were you, just to be safe.
oh, jeez, now i'm growing paranoid. i just called syracuse's graduate program to confirm that they got my writing sample. the woman on the phone couldn't have been sweeter. she said she emailed applicants to confirm receipt of manuscripts, but that some could've slipped through the cracks. a few seconds on the phone and she had confirmed that they had gotten all of my materials (phew!). also: i've now developed the insane practice of scanning all of my spam folder to make sure no e-mails from various grad programs have gotten away from me. ugh. is it summer yet?
So, this talk about professors got me thinking about my workshopping experiences with certain instructors. Practically all of my poetry instructors have been polite, too polite in my opinion. When I was in college my instructors kept praising me. Telling me I'm going to be famous and win a Pulitzer prize. One professor told me he wished that he wrote like me. That was all wonderfully kind but I wish they would have been more critical of me. Instead of identifying some of the problems with my writing later on my own i think it would have been very beneficial if they would have been more critical so I could have gotten a hold of some weaknesses sooner.Has anyone had this experience? Or have people had instructors that gave out as much praise as they gave out critique? Has anyone had an instructor that was too harsh?
I called too. They received it on dec 9. *sigh of relief*
@saltI had pretty much the same experience. A lot petting, a lot of praise. And then they were flabbergasted when I didn't get in anywhere last year. Would rather be told when I suck or my work is sub-par.
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