Month: October 2015

Maybe an MA?

Image: “Labyrinth of Light” by ItzaFineDay As October comes to a wet and chilly end here in Missouri, I realize that for some, November means tweaking and refining those graduate school applications. When I was trudging through this process, I really wished there had been a pros vs. cons for MA vs. MFA in creative non-fiction and it was one of my biggest gray areas. I applied to both and when my acceptances were split down the middle, I was again lost. I guess somehow I thought that acceptances would make this decision for me, but they didn’t.  I had to think hard for months.  In the end, I decided to go MA.  Hear me out. My story is as unique as the next lady’s and because of that, probably not so unique after all. I entered into my undergrad as a studio arts major and it took me a while to fully transition to my home in the English Department. I settled in nicely there, but I frolicked between classes, as undergrads are encouraged …

First Month in Review

Image: Heipei In the Pacific Northwest, we do things little differently. Instead of the semester system that I am used to, we work under the quarter system. We have the year cut into three sections: Fall- Oct-Dec, Winter- Jan-March, and Spring- Apr-June. I am over half way through my first quarter in my MFA. Time is flying, and homework is piling up around me. The quarter system is a bit unforgiving when it comes to homework. I am taking two classes- Nonfiction Form and Theory III- Profiles and Memoir and Nonfiction Workshop. I am also involved in three internships: Willow Springs Magazine (I am a nonfiction reader), Writers in the Community (I work in a high school), and Get Lit! Festival (I am an assistant writer and editor for content.) So far, I have been almost overwhelmed by the amount of stuff there is to do in the MFA. Not only in terms of class work (though that is challenging), but also internships I can work with, my job, and still sleeping and cleaning my …

Citizen by Claudia Rankine

Master Class

Happy Halloween! I can’t believe it’s already the end of October. Fall is slowly settling in to Columbia. It was warmer these past few days, but today it is cloudy (my favorite) and I am relishing the cooler weather. The highlight for the month of October was definitely the master class with Claudia Rankine. She gave two lectures/readings at the university and candidates in the MFA program got to take a master class. We were told to write down a microagression and bring it. The class was larger than I expected, maybe around 15-20 people, but it was because alumni were invited, as well. Professor Rankine first asked our name and then we read our microaggression; she closed her eyes while she listened. She did not have a paper copy in front of her. She just listened and, when she spoke, pinpointed exactly what was working in the piece and what wasn’t. She told us to pay attention to the language that was used; the language carries its own stories. To carry these pieces forward, …

Teaching, Or the Art of Performance (Or, Y’Know, That Thing You Do for Your Stipend)

Over the past few weeks, I wrote a comedic story about Edward Snowden that was rejected by McSweeney’s. My intramural soccer team made it to finals and if we win, we get T-shirts. A family friend visited town and we went on a 4-mile hike around Lake Lurleen. I semi-read Strangers on a Train (doing my discussion post about the final chapter means I read the whole thing, right?) and dreamt that my literature professor was an amateur magician (man, that fedora he was wearing? Really, really bad). I’ve grappled with issues entailed in writing the other and read Stanley Crouch’s brilliant essay “Segregated Fiction Blues” about the subject. I discovered that the Italian restaurant DePalma’s is perfectly meh despite the large crowds that gather outside on Friday and Saturday nights. I went to a reading by Sofia Samatar and heard an excerpt from her short story about a creepy, futuristic summer camp for girls. I tried to get a room full of sixth graders excited about poetry in spite of their complaints that it …

The MFA Program You Haven’t Heard Of: Spotlighting the MFA at West Virginia University

Image: Via Tsuji Last year, when I was applying to MFA programs, I was too fragile to keep up with the constant updates in the MFA Draft Facebook group. However, I decided to join this year. I’m not sure why: to relive the agony and anguish? So I can remember how I managed to do just about everything wrong in terms of applications (this will be next month’s blog)? I think that more than anything else I was curious about where people are applying. Right now, many of the group’s members are sharing their prospective lists of schools, and I noticed that West Virginia University (WVU) is missing from many lists. WVU was always on my radar because the program has close connections to Ohio University, where I received an MA. And if you’re applying this season, I think it should be on your radar too. Here’s why: Let’s talk numbers. So many schools are reticent when it comes to money, but I’ll lay it out there: we’re all receiving full tuition waivers (except for some nasty, …

How I Wrote My Statement of Purpose

Hey, Cady here. Just want to let you know I read the message boards. I’m active in one Facebook group for applicants, and I help moderate another. I am aware that every last one of you is panicked about the statement of purpose. I’ve been known to show my statement to people, but that’s not what I’m going to do here. I know this is a strange thing to say about a document that I sent out to a bunch of strangers at one point, but it’s personal. Maybe if we know each other, or if you catch me in a good mood. But probably not. Sorry. What I’m going to do instead is more helpful to you. I’m going to break my statement down paragraph by paragraph, giving instructions on how to write one like it. There are even quotes! Let’s go. Paragraph 1: 164 words My opening sentence was “I write stories about women, class, and power: which women have power, which don’t, how women and men negotiate power, and what the consequences of that …

Beyond the Workshop

Image: Cranes by Laitche “One day, the Doctor’s Wife comes home to find stickers on each phone that read, ‘No.’ ‘What are these for?’ she asks the Doctor. ‘I want you to learn to say no to people.’ The Doctor’s Wife doesn’t think her husband has any idea how things work.” “No,” from The Doctor’s Wife by Luis Jaramillo (2012) Multitasking is a habit I haven’t been able to shake. When I started college, I told myself that I would take it easy, that I would not get too involved in too many activities. Not surprisingly, my pledge didn’t last long, and by the time I was a senior my CV looked like the efforts of four different people rather than one ridiculously overextended human being. I have always been involved in many different projects and activities. Even as a child, I would be reading multiple books at once (well, not literally at once, because I’m not Dr. Reid a la Criminal Minds) while also working on a jigsaw puzzle, teaching myself to read music, writing …