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.
Congratulations on finishing the packet! Lovely photos too. It’s great that your independent writing and reading can work towards your degree.
Thanks, Sarah. Cleaning up the mess today! I took the photos near Seaside, Florida, over spring break with my son.
You’re in an MFA program! (I’m jealous!)
After getting my MLIS, I have struggled to find time to tie my shoes (well, having 4 kids in 5 years didn’t help!).
An MFA, yes. Some day, I’ll be there, too.
Best to you in your MFA journey. Is it the experience you anticipated so far?
Thanks, Terresa. Wow, 4 kids in 5 years. I’m surprised you know what your name is. And yes, it’s even better than I expected so far.
How long is the residency part of the program? And a stack of manuscripts? Jeesh, it’s amazing you find time to blog.
Tricia, the residencies each last 10 days, and I think it’s 10 20-page manuscripts. It’s fun!
Cynthia, this sounds like such a cool experience. How many semesters have you done?
Hi Sariah! I’m almost finished with my first semester.
I was glad to read this update. I was wondering how your MFA low residency program was going. It sounds like you’re having a great experience. And I’ll bet the reading and annotations you are doing are giving you lots of things to blog about. I’m just amazed that you are finding the time to keep up with everything. You go, girl! 🙂
Thanks, Kim. I’m having to learn how to sit with being behind in things–like comments and email. Also, my study is not as organized as it used to be. And even though I think I’m reading as much, my stack of books is growing. And I need to find some time to send some more work out….
Oh, my goodness. That is a lot of writing homework. I’m a bit jealous you are going for your MFA. But mostly, I’m jealous of the teachers who get to read your work.
Darrelyn, this is one of my favorite comments ever. Thank you. : )
I’m glad to read this. I have mulled over applying to a low-residency MFA the past couple years, and it’s good to find out what someone else is experiencing in this format. (And yes, I’m still mulling.)
Jeffrey, let me know if you have any questions.