Yesterday I mailed my fourth packet to my adviser. Every four weeks I complete one. That’s how most low-residency MFA programs work. Packets. Plus the twice-a-year residencies. I wrote a post in January about my first residency at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Let me also say that there’s no reason to ask for more time with a packet because in four weeks, you’ll have to send another one. The clock is ticking as the mailbox door swings shut.

This is not to say I don’t take a few days off each time–to catch up on email and blog posts and comments–and life. I do.

Advisers differ on what they want in the packets. This semester my adviser, Diane Lefer, asks for:

  • a letter (yes, a real letter) that describes what you’ve been writing and reading for the last four weeks (we create a bibliography during the residency) and anything that’s going on in your writing life; and
  • 2 critical essays, each one approximately 3 pages long, discussing some aspect of writing using the books you read for this time period; and
  • approximately 30 pages of writing, new work or revisions or some of each.

A friend I was talking to the other day said her adviser wanted one critical essay (3-5 pages) plus one new story and one revision of a story.

Diane is great about getting back to me, usually a detailed email within 2 days, and I’ll receive my work back a couple of days after that.

So yes, I really am in school. One more packet left for this semester. Then I’ll receive a stack of manuscripts to read for the workshop at the residency that will begin June 28–8 weeks from Monday.

Bookmark and Share