MFA Update: Second Semester


Six out of 20 weeks into this semester, and I’m feeling pretty good about where I am. Even though my drafting has slowed while I await my mentor’s feedback, I’ve still drafted enough work in my thesis to get me through the semester. I expect I’ll have plenty of revision work to do, but this is a far stronger position than I could have been in at this time last semester.

I had to write my first ever fiction pastiche. It was difficult to get into the voice and style of Jenny Offil’s Dept. of Speculation at first, but once I got the ball rolling, I fell into a rhythm with it and ended up having a lot of fun. What I didn’t expect was that my story went to a pretty dark place. Also, given that it was just a writing exercise, I didn’t expect to fit a whole story into ten pages–but I managed to pull that off anyway. I’ll have to see what my mentor thinks of it.

So what’s next? I’ve been working on my peer pages for June’s residency. Sure, June feels far away, but they’re due to the program in mid-April–and to my mentor on March 2. I have a few options, as I see it, for this submission:

  • I can send my first chapter of my thesis. Yes, I did that last time, but it’s been drastically revised more than once since then.
  • I can build out the writing exercise I mentioned above. Peer pages submissions can be up to 20 pages.
  • I can submit the first 20 pages of another story I’m working on, Rings of Saturn. This one involves time travel, though that hasn’t happened yet in the first 20 pages. This is what I’ve been drafting this week, for revision next week if my mentor wants to see this. I got to page 18 today, with a goal of reaching page 20 by the end of the day tomorrow, so I’m feeling good about that.

My mentor and I will discuss which of these options will make the best option for June’s residency, but it’s strange to think of it so early in the semester either way. Last semester the deadline didn’t fall until the end of term, but in the spring there’s no month-and-a-half holiday break. While I went to a June residency last year, I wasn’t in school leading up to it.

In fact, it was about this time last year that I applied for the Mountainview MFA program. Who would have thought that a year later I’d have so much fiction to work on? I’m enjoying myself, learning a lot, and meeting great people.

My next MFA update will be in the middle of next month. I’ll share my mentor’s feedback for my first submission, and thoughts about my second submission…which should be in revision by that time. Also, I should be on solid ground regarding my peer pages.