Hi all. Several of you has asked various questions about the residency. An official letter will be coming shortly but I wanted to go over a couple of things now for clarification and to give you time to get certain things done in preparation for the residency. In short, because a low-res program is intensive, some prework has to be done ahead of time, like reading the writing samples for your workshops and reading the prework assignments for afternoon seminars (there will usually be 1 or 2 afternoon seminars each day on various topics concerned with craft, the writing process, the publishing industry, or on various writers. The residency breaks down into a first half and a second half. This winter, we will have a free day on Jan. 1 before we start our second half. Also, mornings are taken up with our workshops, early afternoons to seminars/panels discussion, and the evenings with faculty or student readings.
Some things to keep in mind as we approach Dec. 24, which will sneak up on you, believe me.
- By Nov. 1, we need to receive two writing samples from you (for prose, each up to 18 pages in length, typed and double-spaced; for poetry 5-8 poem each; these will be copied and sent in packets to each of you for your two writing workshops (one each half of the residency). You will read those packets and make both small comments right on the manuscript as well as summary comments on the end – the summary comments can either be typed or neatly handwritten. At the end of discussing each person’s work, you will give that person your copy of his/her work with your comments.
- For writing samples, you may use work you submitted for your application to the program. Try to polish your work so that you give your instructor and colleagues the best example of your writing you can. Of course, it doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s what the workshop is intended to do — to make what you submit better.
- Very shortly, you will be assigned to a workshop in your genre, with a workshop faculty leader and several colleagues — workshops are small, typically between 4-7 people.
- In the next several weeks I will be sending you the list of afternoon seminars, lectures, and panel discussions by our faculty and guests. Students will need to attend at least five such seminars/panels (you can, of course, go to more than six) as part of the residency requirement. You will be given a seminar worksheet (1 page) that you need to fill out after each residency you attend and pss in to the MFA office to get credit for attending it.
- For some seminars, there will be prework reading assignments (these are not burdensom, usually several poems, a short story or two, or a novel or part of a novel which the instructor will use in the seminar as an illustration of some craft issue). Some of the panels, like our guest panel on publishing or the lectures by Anita Shreve or Mark Doty, won’t have prereading to do. The schedule I send you will give a brief description of the topics to the seminars as well as what if any prereading you will need to do, so that you can get an ide which seminars you would like to attend. You can attend more than five seminars, but for those additional ones you won’t have to do any preparation.
Lots of other info will be coming your way as we get closer to the residency, such as what to bring, where to go in Mystic, and what to expect on the island. But for now, I hope this answers some of the more pressing questions a number of you have had for me. Though at times all of this may seem confusing and daunting, and many of you have questioned your writing ability, your decision to come, whether you belong. Believe me, you all belong here. I question my writing and ability every day. That’s normal. Remember to relax and enjoy this very special time you have in your growth as writer. By next semester, when we admit our second cohort, you folks will be seasoned veterans at this, and you, the “upper classmen,” will help to mentor the bright-eyed and frightened “newbies” that will be coming to the island. And you will look back and smile at where you were as writers and students just a few months earlier.
Just wanted to say I was delightfully surprised by the response by all of you. Though I guess I shouldn’t be, seeing as you are all writers and love to see your words in print. Our first “writing-related” post will be next week by our MFA poet Kim Bridgford. I’m sure that her post will elicit the same sort of response and flurry of emails about the topic of writing.
In the meantime, I look forward to seeing those of you who told me you were going to show up at my Border’s reading tomorrow in Fairfield.
One tip for the residency: think about investing in one of those warm Hebrides islands sweaters for the chilly Atlantic winds blowing over Enders. That, or some good single malt (I prefer the latter).
Hi everyone. Please don’t be shy about sending us your news. We will screen all posts to insure that others are not getting in and using inappropriate language, but I encourage all of you to send along writing news of interest for your colleagues and, soon-to-be, friends. Regarding posts, they can be about any of the following:
- A response to one of the faculty chats about craft or the state of the art of writng (the first one will be arriving shortly from Kim Bridgford);
- A great book you’ve read;
- An announcement of a local reading, conference, or venue for publication;
- An article about craft or writing tips, or the general field of creative writing;
- A question you want to share with others about writing (e.g., “writer’s block”, where and how to send manuscripts)
- Above all, your writing success stories — e.g. a poem, article, story, or book that you’ve had accepted for publication or that has recently been or is about to be published — and I know we have several such people in the program.
Other news: Nalini Jones’ reading and post-reading live-chat went extremely well. I want to thank those that sent in questions, and encourage all to attend the next MFA Inspired Writer event: MFA faculty poet Baron Wormser, on Oct. 8 at 7 pm at the Fairfield library (sorry, no on-line chat). At Nalini’s reading, which was truly remarkable, I was pleased to meet about a dozen new MFA students. So I encourage those of you who are close enough to attend. For those beyond commuting distance, we hope to start having some of the campus reading on the webpage as an audio so that you can listen too.
I just returned for the Connecticut Book Awards ceremony at the Hartford Public Library, where I was a finalist in the fiction category. Unfortunately, my Soul Catcher didn’t win, but lost out in grand fashion to Philip Roth’s Exit Ghost. He had been a finalist 4 times previously before winning this time. Since this was only my second finalist attempt, I didn’t feel so bad, not did I feel bad losing to one of the four or five truly great living novelists. Oh, well. Next time.
So let’s hear from you all.
Hello to all associated with the MFA community.
I want to jump on the bandwagon–a cliche, I know–with my good friend and colleague Aaron Perkus to say how excited and pleased I am to be, with all of you, on the ground floor as we build this MFA. The winter residency is looking to be a really remarkable one–with great authors, visiting writers such as Mark Doty and Anita Shreve, editors from Harper Collins, a wonderful mix of informative and useful seminars, lectures, and panels, and above all, a great collection of student writers. To kick things off, these pages will begin to introduce all of us to each other, both professionally and personally. This blog will highlight in the coming weeks and months leading up to the residency, key craft aspects about fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. These pages will include observations from professional writers about publishing, about craft, about writing, and about good books to read. They will also highlight the achievements of faculty, as well as the already remarkable ones of you the student. They will give you a chance to get to know us, and we to get to know you. In short, the blog will be filled with interesting stuff for writers. We hope to have several posts about writing and craft each month from various faculty members. These will be the start, I hope, of a productive and on-going dialogue about our Work as Writers, both before the residency and after it. It will be a good way to stay in touch as a community of inspired writers.
In the meantime, I wanted to alert everyone to the upcoming reading by Nalini Jones, one of our MFA faculty. It’s one of several that the MFA and University College is sponsoring on campus this fall. Her reading will take place on Thursday, Sept. 18, at 7 pm in the Multimedia Room of the Fairfield University Library. You are all invited and encouraged to come. It will be a great chance for all to meet other MFA’ers. For those who can’t make it, we will be streaming the reading live as an audio. Just go to the website. Also, at 9 pm after the reading we are going tohave a live chat with Nalini. If you’d like to participate–and many of you will be working with her this winter–again, go to www-fairfield.edu/mfa and look for her picture on the right hand side. Click on it and it will ask you to register. I think for this only confirmed students can register. But it will be a great way to hear her read and to listen to her respond to questions about writing.
Let’s hear from you all,
Welcome to the Fairfield University MFA Blog-space… Micheal White and I have decided to co-host this venture in service to and for benefit of the Fairfield MFA community. We have some great plans for this site, including some pages featuring publications of our faculty and students, up-to-date information about our Inspired Writer Distinguished Authors Series, articles and interviews about the craft of writing, and opportunities for students to connect with each other and faculty leading up to the first residence–throughout their program of study–and as they emerge on the other side as graduates. Above all else, we want this to be a space wherein you, our students, are able to both lose yourselves in the deontological pleasures of engaging each other as well as connect with specific content that holds your interest. With that aim in mind, I will be mining the dashboard for indications of what you want and how well you like have we have while Micheal will be his brilliant self–writing about writing and getting his friends to do the same.
So please send me comments about what you want to see here, or just to let us know that you came by to look. To our first class, please accept my congratulations on both being accepted into our program as well as my appreciate for your selecting Fairfield. We will do our all to be worthy of your trust and attention.
I like to think that I am an easy guy to reach. Either leave a comment here (which will become public) or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or make friends with me on Facebook (and yes, we are going to explore creating a group page there as well…)