Another MFA Creative Writing question
December 6, 2013 7:18 AM Subscribe
What can I do to make myself a strong MFA CW candidate?
posted by dearwassily to Education (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
My apologies for the length of this...
I graduated in 2007 with a B.A. in English with a Creative Writing concentration and like many, had no clue what I wanted to do with my life (aside from writing). My parents told me the logical path was to continue on with my education and become a professor, so the year after I graduated, I applied to some MFA Creative Writing programs and was not accepted at any. I took this to mean this wasn't my path, shrugged it off and went on my (not-so) merry way.
Though it stung at the time, in hindsight, I see I was not a good candidate at all. I enjoyed writing, but was loath to call myself a writer, refused to show anyone anything I wrote, did not actively pursue a writing life, etc. My writing sample was the first chapter of a novel I was working on and had absolutely no context. I had no clear writing goals other than to write. Also, because of issues like depression, anxiety and an eating disorder, my undergrad GPA is rather iffy. (When I'd actually finish a semester, I'd make all As, but I had several semesters where I just dropped out during the middle-end and in most of those classes, got Fs.)
Since then, however, I've started taking my writing much more seriously. I've submitted stories and essays and have a handful of publications in literary journals under my belt. I'm working on my third novel (the first two are junkers and will never see the light of day, but they were good learning experiences). I contribute/freelance at two of my city's local entertainment blogs/newspapers. I've been a featured reader at several local literary events, am an active member in a writing/critiquing group, and this past fall took a fiction class at the university here in town to dip my toe back into the academic waters to see if I would like it after having been gone so long and have enjoyed it immensely.
I'm feeling the pull toward the MFA, but this time, because I actually want to, unlike before when I applied just because my parents said I should.
I've read the articles telling those of us interested in taking this route to stop, don't do it, it will only lead to unemployment and heartache so this is something I'm already mulling over. I've also read that these programs are only for literary rock stars, which I am not, another thing I've been thinking about.
My question is not whether I should or shouldn't try for an MFA; I know this is only something I can decide. Let's assume for this question that I have made the decision and yes, I'm going to try for it, aiming to apply at the end of next year to begin the program (if accepted) in the fall of 2015, giving myself basically a year before my applications are due.
So in this upcoming year, what should I be doing now (in addition to what I'm currently doing, as summarized above) to help my chances at acceptance? How can I make myself a stronger candidate?