The new content posting has been pretty quiet around here as I seem to be one of the only people updating the blog these days, what with Tom and Seth busy writing and all, and I have been distracted myself -- with writing, teaching, editing, etc. Never fear. I'll continue to throw up new mailbags, and though the blog tends to quiet down over the summer, there will be semi-regular new posts with relevant MFA related content, so be sure to check back, no matter your status heading into the fall.
For now I have a grab-bag of links for you, and some questions I want to throw out there, and a few thoughts.
The eminently sane Vince Gotera (whose personal statement advice has already proved helpful to many an MFA applicant) has advice about how to handle acceptances, rejections, and (maybe most importantly) waitlists. Sure, this is from 2006, but I think it still stands.
Gotera suggests that if you end up with rejections, you should try and figure out why. The new incarnation of ALC, known as Driftless House (and which seems to be ALC minus Seth) is offering a service to help you do just that. You give them ten pages of fiction, or five of poetry, plus your list of schools, plus $90, and in return you'll get "in-line notes and an evaluation letter." That's nine or eighteen bucks a page! Just sayin'. (I work for less than that, if you are interested...)
This brings me to some questions: If you didn't get accepted, will you be reapplying next year? And what, if anything, do you think you gained from going through the process this time around?
For what it's worth, I always tell my MFA application students and clients that they should think of an MFA as a five or six year process: one or two years to apply, two or three years in the program, and a year to adjust afterward. And that's a minimum, in my opinion.
Also for what it's worth: last year I worked with someone going through her fourth year of applications. She'd been waitlisted before, but never had any full offers. After polishing up her stories and statements she went at it again and was accepted, in fiction, at multiple top schools, including Hollins, Brooklyn, and UNCW [Updated - it was actually UNCG, my mistake.] I can't take much credit on that one -- she did so well because she didn't give up, and used the time in between applications to workshop, hone her craft, and improve her stories. By the time I met her she was already in good shape and just needed guidance on statements and some final developmental feedback. But it goes to show that tenacity pays, both for MFA applications and in your future writing lives. Sometimes the ones who make it are the ones who don't give up.
***end pep talk***
More links: many MFA programs have really terrible websites -- any applicant knows this. But how many have blogs? NMSU does, but I'm not sure of any others. Can we crowdsource this one? Post your links to official (or, I guess, unofficial) MFA blogs in the comments.
Current NMSU student Carrie Murphy also emailed me to let me know about her blog, Master of Fine Eats. "Thought this might be of interest to the MFA blog readers," she wrote, "many of whom are already (if not about to be) poor graduate students."
Last thought: one commentator was lamenting over what to tell your recommenders if you don't have the outcome you were looking for. I say (as a fairly prolific recommendation writer myself) just tell them straight. They won't hold it against you one little bit, and most will be happy to get an update, no matter the results. I sometimes don't hear anything from the people I write recs for -- and I always wish I did.
For all this post's focus on possible less-than-desirable results, the acceptance season is not yet over, and there are still more happy "yay, I've been accepted" comments to come. So don't give up the good fight yet, people!