MFA Update: 3rd Residency

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I had a great time last week visiting the Mountainview Grand Resort for my third residency week in the Low-Residency MFA program offered by SNHU. The week started off with the usual “What to expect this semester” meeting, except this time instead of talking craft essays, we talked about the close reading essay. I’ll be doing mine on “The Flower” by Louise Erdrich.

Peer workshops went really well and I got some excellent direction for a story I wrote that felt as stuck as my main character. Turns out I can actually get two stories out of it if I craft them properly. I think I will at least try to do so!

The craft workshops were amazing, especially the Epiphanic Moment session. I won’t go into details because the stories used were not mine, and therefore the lives used were not mine, but it was like witnessing first-hand a therapy session that brought the core of the writer’s pain into the stories used. It was beautiful and surprising, and something I will always carry with me. And the writers whose stories we used will always be brave in my eyes, braver than most.

This summer’s guest author was Danielle Evans, who is as kind as she is brilliant. Seriously, if you’ve not read her collection of short stories, titled Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, get on that. You won’t regret it. We also had a guest editor visit from FSG, who gave a talk and then joined two recent grads who already have book contracts a year after graduating.

I taught a self-defense seminar that was a great deal of fun, and would have gone on longer if my voice hadn’t been drowned out by a lawnmower. I learned later in the week that there’s studio space in the fitness center (I’d probably have known that if I worked out while at residency), but alas–it was days after the workshop.

For readings, I chose three: a portion of my thesis for the pre-dinner reading, and a portion of a short story I’m working on as well as a Hamilton-inspired political rap. All of them were lots of fun to give, but what I’m happiest about is that it’s getting easier to read in front of what I consider huge groups (60+ people) without reading so fast no one could possibly hope to understand me. I owe a lot of that to the advice I received from David Simpatico, Mountainview MFA alum, actor, and fabulous playwright.

Overall, it was a week of learning, a week of not enough sleep, and a week at the end of which I struggled to keep from getting choked up as graduates returned for a final celebration of their work. I’m halfway through the program–actually 3 credits more than halfway now–and I feel like the next two semesters are going to fly even faster than the first two.

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