All posts tagged: Workshop

Want to learn how to write? Become an autodidact

Image: The Dark Veil If you’re familiar with the pros and cons of MFA programs in general, you’ve probably heard this advice before: an advanced degree in Creative Writing is not necessary for you to become a writer, but it can definitely help by giving you the time and validation you need to build confidence in your writing. I’ve now completed two terms of my M.A. in Creative Writing program (two quarters actually, but because there’s no summer term there are only three quarters in one school year– I’m guessing whoever invented that system didn’t major in math), and I have enough experience at this program to confirm that advice, but also to qualify it. In an MFA or MA Program, you will be treated seriously as a writer, and you will have more time than you otherwise would to write, especially if you’re coming back to school from the working world. However, if you are in a program that funds you via teaching assistantships or other university positions, you’re also going to have a …

An Inside Look With Robin Conley, Western State Colorado University ’15

Image: Edsel Little Note: Thank you to first year contributor J.R. Dawson for providing me with these questions! How does your residency work and how it is paced? Spalding University’s Low-Residency program offers several options students can complete while enrolled in the program. The option selected decides the time they will attend residency. Some students, like […]

So You’re Waiting to Hear Back from MFA Programs: Post Application Advice With Craig Knox

Image: Nate Steiner For the next two months we’ll be asking some of our first year contributors to talk about the post application period and how they dealt with it last year. What did you do to get through the post application period? I was working at a dead-end job when I applied to MFA programs, and the applications were my respite from a toxic workplace. I didn’t stress about my applications too much and I tried not to think about when I would hear back. I just got lost in the words and in the obsession with getting my voice on the page. I was really proud of my writing by the end of the application period. Once I submitted all of my applications, I felt adrift. So I tried to find light in the darkness as much as I could. I like to cook, so I did that a lot. I took the dog for long walks on my lunch breaks and when I got home from work. Most importantly, I continued reading and revising …

“I Think You Have More to Offer As An Author.”

This sentiment was said to me twice regarding my first assignment for my workshop class. I decided to make a comic deconstructing the Dirty Harry/Judge Dredd type of protagonist in Hollywood action movies and ’90s superhero comics: violent, brutal enforcers of authoritarianism and fascism masquerading as relatable anti-heroes. I was trying to critique the manipulation of sympathy in these stories by way of revealing these characters to be the kind of unsavory maniacs they would be in real life. The first time, it was said by my professor who utterly failed to understand what my story was doing. But I admit that my execution fell short in the first draft and she was trying to be encouraging, after a fashion. It was a backhanded compliment, but still a compliment, so I took it in stride. I heard this phrase again after a round of revisions, but from one of my  classmates. This time, it was less compliment and more backhand. He didn’t like reading a story with such a cynical tone and unsympathetic protagonist, saying …

5 Things I’ve Learned From Workshop

  Workshops push you to write because there is a real, concrete, tangible deadline. I hate to admit this, but the deadline forces me to write instead of watching Netflix or browsing shoes online, and that push helps. Workshop can feel like information overload. Especially if you’re like me, and you go home and immediately devour all of the written feedback at once. I find it helpful to read all of the written notes and line-by-line comments once, quickly, and then put them away and make a list of things that I find helpful: ideas to use in revision. I think this is helpful because by putting everything away, you are recording only what you remember, and because you inevitably remember certain things and not others, these are the things that matter to you. Go for the metaphors. Even if they fall flat some of the time, when they work, they really work.* I hate revising. First drafts are fun because they are freedom and potential, a balloon expanding. Workshop deflates the balloon to a …

An Inside Look With Kate Peterson, Eastern Washington University ’14

What was it like living in Cheney? How far does your stipend go there living wise? EWU’s main campus is in Cheney, so this is where the undergraduate classes are held (and where TAs teach classes) but the MFA program is housed on the satellite campus in Spokane. Almost all of the MFA candidates choose to live in Spokane since this is where all of our classes are held, and also where all of the internship and program/faculty offices are located. So, there have been some folks in the program who prefer the small-town feel of Cheney over Spokane, but most people live in Spokane and drive or take the free bus to Cheney (about a twenty five minute ride) when they teach. Spokane is a very livable city. When I came to the program I was just returning to the states after working abroad as an au pair, so I didn’t have a lot of money saved. I took out a small loan even though I had tuition remission and a stipend, because I …

Eye of the Storm

Image: Colin Well, hello, everyone! I do apologize for the delay in my posts; the start of my MFA career has unfortunately coincided with the worst month or two of my life. So that’s been good. I’ll try to keep this part to a minimum (though as seriously I work on manuscripts for the first time in 4 years, I’ve been reminded of just how wordy a writer I am). Just as my boyfriend and I got our things unpacked in our new place in Orlando, a repair guy from our leasing company managed to burst a bathroom pipe and flooded half the house. When it was clear that the leasing company had no intention of fixing the damage, we had to make plans to move over the course of October. October is, of course, mid-term season and the small business I work for happens to do costume rentals so it happened to be a busy season there, too. So needless to say I’ve been exhausted! On top of all that, my 20-year-old cat passed …