Saturday, January 10, 2009

MFA Application Cycle

January is the dead month for MFA applications. Most of them are due in December, a few hold deadlines open until January 15 but those are certainly few and far between. My advice to anyone in this year's application cycle: forget that you've even applied until February 20. Most schools don't start making offers until the first week of March, some won't be made until the end of March. I didn't know I was coming to WMU until April.

Be patient. Write something. Buy ten novels and tell yourself you're not allowed to check any stat board until you've finished all ten.

Last year I threw myself into a January version of NaNoWriMo with an abandon. It worked wonders; instead of obsessing over an application process I no longer had control over, I obsessed over a novel that whose creation was entirely up to me and my efforts. [BTW, I printed out that manuscript over break to hopefully start editing work on it. The nice part of not looking at it for 6+ months is that I'm actually surprised by both the plot and my writing, both of which I remember to be a lot worse than they are.]

This year I'm in the MFA. Great. I'm teaching, I'm writing, I'm taking classes -- all of it working toward publication and a teaching job. The fact that winter has dumped 8-10" of snow on me in the past 48 hours isn't bothering me too much -- I've got food in the fridge and I don't have to be anywhere until Monday.

So I called my father to chat, to get updates, to find out what his secret to cooking a tenderloin is (somehow I thought there'd be more than "season it with Mrs. Dash"). I find out that my grandmother is doing well after surgery, that there's no definitive answer about family members who are moving, and he asks if now isn't a good time to start applying for the Ph.D. program.


My father remains gungho on the idea of me getting a Ph.D. in creative writing. An MFA is terminal, but a Ph.D. is even more terminal -- which doesn't make sense but neither do the degrees. The program here at WMU has both an MFA and a Ph.D. program in creative writing. As I understand it, it is possible to transfer MFA credits over to the Ph.D. program without actually completing the MFA. My father sees this as a brilliant idea: less time spent in school, right? However, now isn't the time for such considerations. I've only spent a semester in the graduate program and have very little writing-wise to show for it. I certainly don't feel like I have a portfolio worthy of a Ph.D. application. And, as I reminded my father, this year's application cycle has passed. This transferring programs conversation is one I'll have with faculty, current students and the graduate advisor in the months to come.

Meanwhile, I give you today's stupid people of the day award! It goes to yet another brilliant neighbor of mine. No, not smokey, no not the guy who nearly burned down the opposite building with his grilling/lighter fluid escapades. This award goes to a young woman with a Prius.

Coming back from her shopping/lunch trip, she pulls up in the general vicinity of her parking spot and blocks half the road with her car. Turns on her flashers, gets out, leaves the driver's side door open, opens the back hatch and takes out a brand new collapsible shovel. First she attempts to shovel with the itty-bitty short handle. After several scoops she realized that the handle can get longer and extends it the extra foot.

She spends the next 10-15 minutes shovelling out a parking space for her car. Without gloves on. This whole time her car is blocking more than half the snow filled road, door open, engine running. I'm really surprised none of the passing cars ended up taking her door off.

Snow heaved to the side -- she's effectively moved the snow over to the next parking spot instead of putting it anywhere else -- she gets back in her running car -- what do you want to be she's been blasting the heater this whole time? -- and pulls in. The shovel has been put into the back of the car where I can see at least a half dozen plastic grocery bags flapping in the wind. But when she leaves the car she's only carrying her purse and an Arby's drink cup.

Bravo, honey. Bravo. May the 4" of snow yet to fall this weekend give you problems.

(front and center is a Honda Civic. The snow reaches up to touch its front bumper.)

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