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HeyIowa

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  • Location
    NY
  • Application Season
    2015 Fall
  • Program
    Iowa

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  1. Yes... yes! Let the hate flow through you! Seriously, much better writers than you or I have gone through the MFA system. And there are just as many who haven't. But your comment reeks of insecurity, and I'm sure you do as well.
  2. Hi shriiram, I'm afraid I don't know much about poetry programs in general. If you have any questions related to the New School in general, I can pass them onto some of my friends who go there.
  3. Yup, U Iowa. I'm already in the market for thermal wear / a Canada Goose jacket :'(
  4. I think Franzen said it best with "write in the third person unless a really distinctive first-person voice offers itself irresistibly."
  5. I'm actually Christina Nietzsche
  6. @TonyB Sure, send over a copy —I'd be happy to take a look and give you my thoughts.
  7. I agree —I decided to apply last minute after some encouragement from the professor who offered to write me a rec letter. Two of my other recommendations were written by friends who weren't even writers. I had okay GRE scores, prepped intensively the week before and scored around the 95th percentile which I understand to be decent, but certainly not impressive. I also ended up writing my SoP the night before I submitted my apps (I had applied to 15 programs and decided at the last minute to take a creative approach to my SoP rather than the boilerplate "I'm interested in your school because... I have published work in.... yada yada yada"). Still, I know I would have gotten into more programs if I had done things by the book. I got into the programs that have a reputation for only looking at the manuscript, and rejections from many, many more. What I'm trying to say is, take everything seriously —there are so many programs that do look at everything, and weigh in on things like rec letters and whatnot. Ask your professors early, and make sure you tighten the hell out of your manuscript. Looking back, my manuscript was riddled with extra modifiers and instances of over-writing. Finish your manuscript a couple months early so you can put it in a drawer and look at it when you're totally removed, and apply a fine-tooth comb to every sentence. Mine was raw, raw, raw. I was extremely lucky that things turned out well for me. I also know for a fact that several major programs discourage their faculty from accepting students who apply straight out of college, and that for many programs, coming straight out of college is seen as a big red flag, as they prefer —in their words— students who are at least two to three years removed from college. If you are applying straight out of undergrad, as many people now seem to be, emphasize your maturity and worldliness. Many program directors will appreciate it.
  8. I didn't mean to suggest that contemporary work is better, or that people should read more contemporary work than, say, 18th century romantic or naturalistic literature. It's just that for most people who are looking to get published, it's nice to see what's getting published today, by leading magazines. Or even what books are being published by FSG. Of course, not everyone wants to be published in the New Yorker or McSweeneys —my whole point was that it's better to read for scope as well as depth. In my experience, most of my peers have read the classics —works by Joyce, Nabokov, Tolstoy, Proust, Dostoevsky, etc, but not, say, Miranda July's debut novel, or Chad Harbach, Wells Tower, Karen Russell etc. And early 20th century authors like Hemingway, Salinger, Steinbeck, Graham Greene, etc are read by the majority of people who've taken an English class, whether in high school or college. I mean, those are some of the most popular authors of all time. I'd argue that it doesn't hurt to read stories by up-and-coming writer in N+1 or Glimmer Train —people are much less familiar with contemporary authors than past greats. And I think there are more readers out there who've primarily read "stuff dead people wrote" than whats new and developing right now, mostly because English programs tend to teach classic works.
  9. I'd argue that as a writer, you need to be reading contemporary literature, if only to get a good idea of what's going on –so to speak– in the publishing world. An aspiring filmmaker isn't only going to watch Ford and Welles, but Scorsese and Altman to PTA and Linklater to Cuarón and Iñárritu. I'm not saying you have to do what everybody else is doing, or emulate your contemporaries —but to say that you don't have to be aware of the current state of literature is flawed advice at best (I realize that this is a straw man argument and you never said these exact words —but you know what I mean), especially when the rationale is that it's worked for you. Reading the New Yorker is never bad advice —and I really dislike the direction that the magazine has taken lately. As for the modernist vs postmodernist comment, I figure it's advice in the same ballpark as those telling OP to stick away from 1st person —good writing wins out in the end. You may not need subscriptions to the major national / literary magazines to get into an MFA program, but it's never a bad idea to read and subscribe to publications like TNYer or TPR... especially if you're focused on publishing work in the near future (as I suspect 99% of your peers will be...)
  10. Yes, I've heard the same thing from multiple admissions people. There are many in the Franzen camp who prefer third person to first person, but there are some effects that you can only do through first person writing. Id advise people to work with whatever perspective's most comfortable.
  11. Wow —how was the Tin House workshop? [they need to publish me already ]
  12. @tonyb Yes, it should be bone-splinteringly cold. I am already looking for deals on power down jackets @Tilden Katz Re: advice on the manuscript —get subscriptions to TNYer, TPR, N+1, McSweeney's Quarterly, The Believer, etc. Pay attention to Granta and the Atlantic Monthly. Read as much as you can, especially from former MFA students (Wells Tower, Yiyun Li, Junot Diaz, Karen Russell, etc etc etc). Focus on developing a compelling and original voice. In my opinion, the voice is the one thing that you have to nail. Don't worry so much about having the perfect plot or the most memorable characters. They are looking for original voices. Don't be afraid to take risks, don't write safe prose –but at the same time, submit stuff that is more modernist than postmodernist. I experimented with surrealism in one of my pieces, but the conflicts were all day-to-day domestic or relationship-based conflicts. I submitted 2, 3700 word pieces that followed the same characters. Both were first person narratives with the same narrator. Both had grammatical errors that I later caught, and one was egregiously overwritten in places. Neither were perfect works. I can say that I'm a much better writer now than I was this time last year. I say this to reiterate my advice on having a mature, controlled but original voice. The spark of originality will overshadow the smaller mistakes that you'll inevitably make in your piece. Also take a good look at your personal statement. Make sure you're coming across as driven, motivated, and ambitious —but ultimately sane, pleasant, and self-aware. I'm still in the process of sending out the pieces that were in my manuscript —if some publication bites I'll send you a link. Of course, I will gladly take a look at your work and give you some of my thoughts.
  13. TonyB, I'm an incoming student who'll move there this fall.
  14. I'm from irvine, and there are alot of single family homes around UCI that rent out rooms to students for 250-400 dollars a month. Many students live in the apartments around campus which (a couple years ago when I last checked) was around 1000/month for a decent 2 bedroom. Also, 17,635 is pretty generous compared to the other programs out there -Irvine is expensive, but around UCI, it's also an accommodating college town with affordable stores / restaurants catering to students.
  15. Feel free to send me anything you've been working on or portions of the manuscript you sent. I can take a look and maybe point some things out.
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