MFA Update: Prepping For Residency & Next Term

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I have two more stories to read and critique before heading up to residency on Sunday. I’m really enjoying the process of critiquing, as I usually do. I had hoped to have finished by now, but I built some cushion into my self-imposed deadline because I knew that with my second semester ending, I might also want to take things easy a little.

So I’ve done a little of both, but I’m on target to finish before leaving, which is great. I’ve known some who can critique the night before someone is workshopped, and while I imagine that keeps the story and one’s reactions fresh in the mind, it would be too tight of a deadline for me. I like to arrive with the work completed.

I’ve also spent some time in the last week thinking about what books I want to read next semester. As I understand it, while I won’t be required to write craft essays for each book (instead I’ll be writing a 10-15-page close reading essay), I am still expected to discuss readings with my mentor. I’m not sure if my mentor will want to come up with a list, but I’ve always tried to go into each semester with suggestions of books that it might help to read.

This semester, my list is split 50/50 between works by First Nations authors and works that take place in or near the time period of my novel–the 17th century. Some of my books in the latter section take place in the 16th century, but they’ve been recommended to me by others in my MFA program so I figure it’s close enough. Next semester, you’ll be able to keep up with me and my reading list on McNellisReads.

My other residency prep includes packing, which was less of a chore this time around. I can bring more clothes to summer residency because tee shirts don’t take up as much room as sweaters…so there’s no need to have to make choices now as to what I will bring. Since it’s too early to tell what the weather will be for the whole week, I definitely like packing for summer residency more.

Halfway through my MFA program, all I can say is I’ve so far learned a lot, met amazing writers, and I’m looking forward to this next semester.

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