All posts tagged: creative writing sample

Let’s Find You Some Help

You should show your actual writing to as many people as possible, getting all the advice you can wrangle out of them, before you spend hundreds of dollars applying for grad school. In this article I list specific venues for you to get critiques from other people. 

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In Search of Lost Mojo (An introduction)

Image: Adeline Oka You applied to MFA programs last winter peddling your best traits: a voracious curiosity and an insatiable lust for soul-stirring prose. A year later, after a 17-day cross-country road trip originating in South Florida, after getting settled during one of those famed blissful Pacific Northwestern summers—the apex of which was witnessing a cosmically rare solar eclipse from smack dab in the path of totality—after briefly evacuating to New York City when those dreamy days combusted into a toxic haze fueled by catastrophic wildfires, you find yourself in rural Oregon the night before fall quarter starts, shivering in your Miami clothes, frozen before a white screen. Fraud, you scream in your head. It’s not that you knowingly deceived the ad-coms; what you’re realizing is, like the photo from eight years ago you still keep on your Tinder profile, that portrait of your writer self is outdated. That version was based on who you thought you were at 24, when you first seriously considered getting an MFA upon realizing, during your first graduate program, that you didn’t just want to read …

Navigating the MFA Application Process: An Interview With Ishelle Payer

Image: Sarah Murray How many programs did you apply to? How did you narrow your list down? I applied to ten programs in total. While it was pricey—well, because it was so pricey—I went for broke, reasoning that I couldn’t afford another round of applications, so I had better hedge my bets. I was lucky enough that one of my recommenders was willing to sit down and help me to compile and revise my list. Step one was listing the writers that I most wanted to study with, while step two was narrowing down the list of writers to those with appointments at well-funded programs. Step three was shortening the list to the programs and locations we could actually see me thriving in. How did you approach your sample? Did you submit the same one to every program? Given my tendency toward writing very short fiction, I was nervous about sample length, especially given that samples are often limited to one to two stories. That said, the sample that I sent to UO consisted of two …

Navigating the MFA Application Process: An Interview With Emily Corwin

Image: Steven W. How many programs did you apply to? How did you narrow your list down? I applied to nine schools: Alabama, Notre Dame, Indiana, Virginia, Temple, Syracuse, Mississippi, Vanderbilt, Cornell. My list was determined mainly by funding—nearly all the programs that I chose were fully-funded—and also by geography. The Midwest has been home to me since always—growing up in Michigan and then living in Ohio for school. There was a comfort in staying here, but I also felt intrigued by the East Coast and by the South especially. My significant other is from Alabama and I think, by proxy, it felt familiar to me. At the end of the day, though, my top choices were located in the Midwest. It came down to practicalities: I needed funding, I wanted an easy move, and to not to be far from my family. How did you approach your sample? Did you submit the same one to every program? I sent work that, primarily, excited me. I sent work that I had crafted over months, with …