Author: Nancy Nguyen

What to Do in the Meantime

Photo credit: Michal Ziembicki The waiting period between now and April is pretty much the worst. I know this well. The last two years I applied, I was waitlisted at a few of my dream schools. In the ’16 cycle, I received a nice email from Syracuse saying I was on the waitlist for fiction. After a slew of rejections (I think the final count was six rejections out of eight that year), the Syracuse waitlist was like ice on a bruised ego. Of course, as you can guess, I stayed on the waitlist until I was eventually bumped off. In the ’17 cycle, the results were slightly better. The rejection count went down from six to five (progress!), and instead of one waitlist, I had two: UVA and Johns Hopkins. On April 11th, UVA sent me a very transparent email, saying there was one unsecured spot but it was unlikely I’d get it. And in a world of waitlist uncertainty, I was just as grateful for the honesty as I was disappointed. Then two …

Deadlines, Deadlines, Deadlines

Photo credit: Henrique Simplicio I’ve developed a complicated relationship with deadlines. On the one hand, I’m super thankful for them. It’s not every day people ask you to write, much less read your work closely and give thoughtful feedback. Also, deadlines give me structure and keep me productive. On the other hand, getting bogged down is inevitable. Since the beginning of the semester, I’ve gone through two workshops, and I have two more deadlines within the next month. I’m pretty sure I have writer’s fatigue. What is writer’s fatigue? Is it a real thing? Well, no. I sort of made it up, but I think many writers in programs can relate. Writer’s fatigue is as its name describes; it’s getting burnt out from back-to-back deadlines. I’m an incredibly slow writer. This probably has a lot to do with perfectionism and my terrible habit of editing as I write. I’ve also become accustomed to the short-and-sweet quarter system from my undergrad and MA days. Usually, a ten-week long workshop means only one or two writing deadlines. …

On Doing the Thing Again (An Introduction)

I start school in about a week, and I am feeling all sorts of things. Among these things is caution. It’s been a challenge trying to explain what I’ll be doing in the next few years, partially because the MFA is not necessarily common knowledge. People get the M and the A, but usually, they’ll tilt their heads and ask, “What does the F stand for?” This is a relatively easy question to answer, one I have an okay amount of patience for. What’s been difficult, however, is acknowledging that I’ve sort of done the MFA thing back when I did an MA in creative writing. “Why the hell are you doing this again?” No one’s asked me this yet, and I hope the question is much less abrasive and accusatory when the day comes. I’ve prepared answers. About a dozen of them, most of which only tangentially relate to one another. Here are a few: I was a very weak writer before and for most of my previous program, I absolutely hate working full …