Monday, January 03, 2011

2010-2011 MFA Blog Challenge: New Year Check-in!

Hello all! If you remember, earlier in the application season, I asked you all what you were doing to cope with the stress of applying and MFA Blog obsession--and how you'd stay fulfilled as writers throughout the process. How is it coming in the heat of deadline season?

Last time I posted, kaybay embraced the all-consuming drama of the season (Good for kaybay!) but suggested sending work out to journals as much as possible, and Bryan agreed. Katie Oh set out to explore her college town while she still could. Jaime's hitting the gym, and new poster E.T. is expanding stories from the all-important writing sample into a larger collection.

Perhaps most ambitiously, Blob declared a self-imposed NaNoWriMo when response season kicks off in February. Will anyone join Blob? I think it's a great idea, and--since I'm in a fiction workshop this spring (with phillywriter, woot!)--I just might join up, too!

Give us an update, or add your two cents! How's it coming, gang?


GeezLouise said...

Finally finished with the application process!! Applied to three schools (a tiny fraction compared to the rest of you) and heading back to my final semester of college in a week.

I, too, will be working on writing new stories. I have the wonderful opportunity of being enrolled in a workshop class at school taught by a Pulitzer Prize (fiction) winning author.

Other than that, I will watch trashy reality TV--Jersey Shore anyone?

Unknown said...


FZA said...

Yay! Thanks Adam! I've started my delayed nanowrimo to kill the jan waiting blues. I'm giving myself a bit 'extra' time than a traditional nanowrimo and am starting now and and going on until the waiting season is over!

I have 1000 words so far, no much!

Staci R. Schoenfeld said...

On Saturday, I'm going to a journal writing workshop run by a local writer - a wrap up the old year, ring in the new kind of thing. Sunday, early in the morning, I'm driving a little over an hour to my first retreat of the year. I'm going to spend this week getting things organized for that. I'm hoping to get a number of poems started Sun - Thurs.

I belong to three writing groups, so those will keep me busy. Come March - I don't know. I was planning on doing another retreat, but both places I wanted to go were unavailable. I'm going to see if I can't do a few days at the place I'm going to next week during spring break. (I teach at my alma mater.) I'm also planning on taking a sonnet writing workshop taught by one of my former professors. Then, come May - hopefully one of the retreats that didn't pan out earlier. I'm calling about that tomorrow.

In June, teaching and *fingers crossed* I'll attend the IU Writers' Conference, and then in August I'll hopefully go to the Appalachian Writers Workshop again.

I'm trying to have the preliminary draft of a completed manuscript by the time I enroll in grad school. Lots and lots of writing planned. I'm lucky. The retreat time coming up is free (except for food), and I was awarded a grant that will cover the two writing workshops (assuming acceptance). Otherwise, I'm just going to keep sending my stuff out as I feel it's ready.

Looking forward to seeing everyone's plans! :)

jaime said...

yay! I was mentioned! :) I belong to a women's writers group here in Chapel Hill, but have been too much of a scaredy-cat to actually GO, much less submit anything....but maybe I will go and force myself to submit, to get used to the critiquing process. Good prep for workshops, lol. ;)
I'll also be writing more, and reading a lot more, especially the classics that, for some reason, I have not read yet.
(and going to the gym and doing some triathlons!)

kaybay said...

Ummmm, I'm refreshing this blog every few minutes and twiddling my thumbs. Tapping my feet, too, just for kicks and giggles (no pun intended).

Karissa said...

I'm packing up as many of my earthly possessions (i.e. two boxes of clothes and many, many boxes of books) as I can fit into my car and driving to move 1,000 miles across the country. That's keeping me busy. ;)

That and getting excited for AWP!!

Kat said...

I plan on spending January recovering from the application process with some extreme laziness. Lots of cooking, bubble baths and gin; only writing in my blog. For February and March, though, I've assigned myself a two-month faux NaNoWriMo to help deal with the worst of the anxiety.

Good luck to everyone!

la said...

Travel has been keeping me occupied since December and I plan to continue it off and on through March. I recommend it!

Bendorf said...

I've been distracted quite well, somehow. I just submitted a bunch of poems, have a new tutoring client, and am organizing a reading for AWP - as well as working out like whoa. Hard to believe we're already a few days into January. We're gonna make it!

Eric said...

I've decided to teach myself French through total immersion. Et vous?

julienotjulia said...

Formerly "E.T." here! Thanks for the shoutout. Thanksgiving through New Years was consumed with travel, so just a few days back in the saddle now, working on a new story and forming a scope/range for the broader collection. Guess where my New Year's Resolutions are focused! ;)

Sarah said...

I'm working at an admin job through the beginning of February, and picking up temp assignments after that, trying to save up as much money as I possibly can so I have a little bit of a cushion for next year. It's been a nice distraction and keeps my nerves down a bit. Only a bit though. Nothing helps entirely, now that decisions will be starting to come next month.

Also working on short stories and my hope is to have my first draft of my novel done by start of grad school. I'm about 150 pages in right now.

none said...

Hi. I have one question I haven't found the answer to yet. For the writing sample, should I structure it like a chapbook, or just a plain Word doc? Cover sheet/title page? Help appreciated!

Sarah said...


I put a cover page on mine that just said the name of the school, my emphasis (fiction), and my name/address info. Then I had my name at the top of each subsequent page. I'm not sure if this is the right way, but that's what I ended up doing for schools that didn't specify their formatting preference.

thedisplacedperson said...

until february...i'm going to drink and read john updike until i puke at one of his homosexual slurs.

philipjfry said...

I applied to McNeese for the fiction program awhile ago, but just realized that the e-mail address provided at the website is unusable, and was advised to resubmit mine to the address for poetry submissions. Just a heads up, for anybody else that made the same mistake.

hopefulscribbler said...

Now I've paid for the majority of my apps, I've decided to quit my job to write and tutor for a while. It's probably a really dumb idea and I'm sure I'll spend the next couple of months fretting about paying the bills. But hey, at least it's something other than MFA rejections to worry about!

Unknown said...

Read read read.

Work work work. Distractions, you know.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the heads-up! I wondered why I hadn't received any response from McNeese yet.

Grace said...

Besides writing: reading! Just began Kafka on the Shore. Tinkering with my new Kindle.

Also helping my mom with her new jewelry business (handmade earrings), Dr. Who marathons, and catching up with all of my dear friends that I ignored or rain-checked in lieu of applications.

anotherjenny said...

I'm writing a screenplay for the first time. About dejected recent college grads who are petitioning Nickelodeon studios to make an Old School Nick channel to alleviate their nostalgia for the simplicity of childhood and beauty of green slime. I've decided that the studio I want to submit it to likes it, I will defer on MFA programs to make the movie.

Crazy? Yes. Probable? No. But it's too fun not to try!!!

Almond Punch said...


Adam Atkinson said...

You guys are hilarious! And smart.

Most of all, your responses are evidence of how much this process infiltrates our creative, professional, and personal lives.

@jaime--GO! What's the worst that could happen. There's a chance that group isn't right for you, has different priorities, doesn't know where to begin critiquing your work, etc. There's also a chance you have a temporary writing family at your fingertips!

@thereandbackagain--What's your experience been with such writing groups? Maybe you can tip jaime one way or the other.

@Blob--I'm relieved you're only 1000 words in, as I'm 0 words in. I dive in later this month! How did you prepare yourself? I'm trying to read as much fiction I love as I can in the hopes it rubs off. (I'm a poet and very nervous about this fiction workshop.) Ever read Gary Lutz?

@Kat and Sarah--Yes, more faux nanowrimo-ers!

@Karissa--Maybe I'll see you there! Perhaps a time/place should be posted for an official blog drink at AWP?

@I--Where's your AWP reading?

FZA said...


I'm also a poet, so this fiction thing takes a bit more concentration on my part. I realized about a year ago that when it comes to fiction my real heart lies in children's and YA lit. So I read some of my favorites to get back into a younger state of mind. I kept hoping I'd come up with a killer idea. And I haven't. But I'm writing. And it's more or less connected. I'm still working it out in my head. But I'm excited to see how it ends up, even if after it's all done, I just put it on the shelf and forget about it.

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