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.