what it is like

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.

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14 thoughts on “what it is like

  1. 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?

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  2. 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! 🙂

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    • 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….

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  3. 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.)

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