Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Hardest Part

The hardest part...There always is one. At least ONE thing. My application materials are all together, but now I need to decide. Put myself in debt for three years of schooling...or wait it out, get a job and maybe go back to it. I just don't have the money right now. I don't think I can ask (and really don't want to ask) my parents to help me out with this one. Once I'm done with Marist, they're supposed to be done with me. Big girl time. I'm doing my part with internships, constantly practicing my writing...There's nothing wrong with working in the family insurance agency until I get my feet on the ground...but it's not ME. And I have this unsupressable feeling that I'll get stuck there forever, which I don't want.

I feel like I'm treading water, thinking, while everyone is beating themselves upstream at an incredible rate.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Marist Crew Team Article

I'm going to post this article I wrote for my Sports Reporting class. Nonfiction (creative) and Journalism share many things. That's perhaps why both appeal to me and why I would want to pursue nonfiction above anything else. So here is the article. Took me a while to get it right and I've noticed some things that can be fixed, but I have a new respect for these girls. Hope I did them justice!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

In-Class Imitation assignment

I know I just posted yesterday but I wrote a REALLY short nonfiction piece in class today. I think it took me all of 25 minutes for this little rough draft. It might turn into something more, but I thought I'd post it anyways just to provide some light reading. We were supposed to be imitating an essay we read in class called "Rain" by Kathleen Norris. We actually got to leave class early to go out into the "natural world" to write. Well, I was struck by all the noises that I listen to. So here it is. Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Fairfield Personal Statement

So here is my first revision of the Fairfield Personal statement. I'm probably going to strip it down and re-do it again, but this is where I'm starting. Since I'm applying for nonfiction, I felt it was appropriate to begin the essay with a piece of nonfiction writing. So here it is...this is one of the final posts seeing as I'll be presenting this blog in a couple weeks for my capping project. I'm sure I'll be back once the application is sent in! It's crazy to think all I have left to take care of are my letters of recommendation.

Some words of advice: Start early and just keep plugging along.  And if you're passionate about what you're doing, it doesn't feel like work. I really do love to write. Any time that I'm sitting at my desk, writing, I feel like everything is right with the world. It helps bring me down on those wicked angry days and it helps me sift through confusing thoughts. It helps me remember moments I never want to forget. It's taken me on a wild journey from first grade to now...and I hope I have further to go.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

One more Gilbert video

I found one more Elizabeth Gilbert video. Here she speaks about "Eat, Pray, Love". I hope these two videos about her are helpful and interesting. From a nonfiction standpoint, I wish I could write the way she does.
Enjoy!!! :)

You Have Your MFA, Now What?!?!

So, this whole blog has been about getting into a program to receive your MFA in creative writing. But what are the benefits in terms of jobs available?I hope to answer that in this post :) Enjoy!!

You’ve decided to apply to graduate school. Why? That’s the big question. And it’s a question that many personal statements are requiring potential students to answer. While this post may be a little late, I feel it will still be helpful. Graduate school costs money. As has been made obvious by the news, many, many students are deep in debt as a result of expensive college tuition. Adding graduate tuition on top of that could become slightly problematic, especially if there’s no job market to go into. It’s not a good option if you just don’t know where else to take your life. So HAVE A PLAN.

Dr. Graham looked me in the eye after I finished interviewing her and she straight up asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I’ve always had this idea of teaching writing. I want to of course write and possibly publish my own work on the side, but I want to teach students in a way that they come to love writing the same way I have. I want them to enjoy creating sentences that sizzle with sensual drama or erupt with comedic moments. In short, I want more people to write for the pure joy of writing. I’ve been taught to enjoy it and I want to continue this trend.

Dr. Graham gave me a really informative sheet about some potential avenues to explore:
1.) Grant writing: she writes that this can be a fairly lucrative business. She also mentioned in her office that it was something she could see herself being interested in.
2.) Blogging: This blog attests to this simple fact, but blogging is becoming more and more prevalent. Dr. Graham told me that it’s a new turn for writing because blogging really opens up writing to the public eye. It also gets thing out there, FAST. And the beauty, part-time PAID blogging can be a side job to maybe working at an insurance agency.
3.) Work at a Magazine: she provided the example of Cosmopolitan magazine (a personal favorite of mine, guilty pleasure). Well-known magazines pay. But to get to this step, editors need to see that you’ve done the work to get there. Meeting deadlines, proofreading, and producing clean pieces of writing are key aspects of landing the bigger jobs. You need to start at the bottom. Publish in smaller journals or papers. Just get your work out there and get experience.
4.) Contests: Dr. Graham warns against them being unfair, but at the same time, they can be a great way to get your work out there and maybe earn a bit of money. She provided me with a whole extra sheet about writing contests, which was helpful. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Know what you’re entering into and know your own writing strengths and weaknesses.
5.) Teaching: Teaching could also help pay for graduate school as you can be a Teaching Assistant. In my case, I would be assisting with the composition classes.

Dr. Graham wrote on these sheets two other key pieces of advice that I feel are necessary to share.
1.) HAVE EXPERIENCE OUTSIDE WRITING! She names working as a graphic designer, waitress, acrobat…ANYTHING. The experiences you have outside of sitting at your desk with your plank laptop paper staring back are what will provide fuel for the fire that is writing. You need to have experiences to write about.
2.) PERSONAL STATEMENT: DO NOT focus on how young you were when you started writing or how you’ve got good grades. Don’t just focus on the normal, tawdry, common aspects of writing. Make yourself stand out and be specific. Look at an experience you had and tie it together. As I’m working on my personal statement revision, I myself fell victim to starting with the young writer cliché. I need to go back and look at my experiences. I need to capitalize on the part where I wrote about my running career. I see a lot when I go for my daily runs. It may a lady rocking out in her car, off-key, to Beyonce. It may be a young father with his wife and daughter enjoying a lunch on the concrete of the Walkway Over the Hudson. It could be that moment when I jump out of my skin when I suddenly hear the “Bridge Music” sound on the Mid-Hudson bridge. Dr. Graham also calls it “professional personal.” Remember, this is the letter telling them WHY you should be in their program, but it’s also another 2-3 pages showcasing your writing talent.

Finally, Pat Taylor gave me a sheet of advice a well. One column, the reasons for applying to graduate school, involved many of the same notes as Dr. Graham’s. However, Pat Taylor’s was not geared directly at creative writing programs. However, she made an important comment. Students with graduate degrees could mean more responsibility and a higher salary. Now, this could be false at this moment in our economy. I’ve heard many stories of people being “over qualified.” However, she also notes that for some majors, it is a very personal decision. Mine would be more to hone the creative writing skills I began developing at Marist.

She also states, as I have above, DO NOT ATTEND GRADUATE SCHOOL BECAUSE YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO NEXT. She writes that students who do this end up struggling because they’re not in the right place. I started a bit late. Most people decide by the spring of their junior year. I needed to begin the process then but was still undecided. Thankfully, the average age of a creative writing graduate student is in their 30’s. So I have time. But exploring my options now, when I have the resources is definitely key.
Faculty are key for guidance. Dr. Graham, Dr. Anderson, Pat Taylor, Professor Morreale, Caela Provost, and Keara Driscoll all provided me with AWESOME feedback earlier this semester.

Graduate school isn’t a decision to be made lightly. You need to have a direction in which you hope to go and you need to have the drive to pursue it. Be passionate about it.

I want to add this video about Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love”. She’s a fantastic nonfiction writer and I LOVED her book when I first read it. But I think she really follows Dr. Graham’s advice of experiencing different aspects of life. The video is about the writing process, which was really interesting. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

2nd Half of Reckoning

Here is the second half of the writing sample I posted Sunday :) This will be one of my last posts. I'll have one or two more next week and maybe some random ones later on. However, I feel this blog provided some food for thought and a way to really think things through. I hope everyone enjoyed reading it as I have writing it. Enjoy the reckoning. As always, I love feedback. Tell me what you think!!!