Monday, January 24, 2011

Residency, Schmisedency.

In my goals post for 2011, I said I wanted to go back to school, to "do what I would LOVE to do, a low-residency MA in creative writing. My goal: decide, apply, begin, thrive."

*Deep breath.*  So here I go.  I don't know that I'm going in the order I intended... it's more like decide, begin, then apply.  I can't really think about thrive so much yet, but looking at these schools makes me happy and it feels like it would be a really good direction for me to go with my writing.

Specifically, as I mentioned, I'm only looking at low-residency programs in creative writing.  If you've never heard of that before (as I hadn't, until I read Danica's post on Chic Runner last year).  You can start at Wikipedia, but the description of the programs is pretty brief.  UC Riverside has a decent website, too.  But in a nutshell, a low-residency program is a MFA in creative writing that is done as a combination of independent work and study in consultation with a professor and once or twice-yearly visits to the campus to do intensive study and attend workshops.  Most programs are 2-3 years, and most residencies are ten days, once or twice a year.

The low-residency model seems like the best fit for me for several reasons.  First, as I said, I began a MA in Education a few years ago through an online university.  I hated that I was not dealing with a brick and mortar institution, and most of what I was doing felt like busy work.  I don't mind working independently, but I like the idea of the work being tied to a physical institution (and let's not quibble over how real some schools are--my degree would have been real, but there were some things that I didn't like so much about the online-ness of that particular degree).  I didn't finish that degree because E and I had a giant blowout and almost quit our marriage, but it wasn't a good fit for me before that.

Physically going to a school is not an option.  I can't be away from the kids and E on a regular basis like E was for law school.  Been there, done that.  Not going back.

The other reason I think these type of programs are a better fit is that I'd actually get to study something I care about.  I care about it a lot.  Like, infinity, a lot.  (I can't believe I put that sentence in a blog post about wanting to be a writer.  Oh, the horror.)  The more I teach, the more I realize that I'm disinterested in all the B.S. theory that's a part of teaching--which, I am convinced, survives only to keep the administrative juggernaut that is the US Education system alive--and the more I am interested in the art of teaching, the part that can't be quantified on a bubble test: specifically the art of teaching about the magic and the power of words.  I love me some magic words.  Mud-luscious words.  Puddle-wonderful words.

{Somebody call the Cheese Police, PDawg has gone off the deep end.}

But listen!  I'm not crazy.  Blogging and teaching AP have shown me that there is so much more to the study of English than I ever thought there was in college.  (And I already loved to write then!)  This blog has helped me find my voice.  It's made me practice regularly.  It's helped me hone my craft and to see that it needs a lot more honing.  But it's helped me realize that calling myself writer isn't out of the realm of possibility in my lifetime.  I never ran before because I wasn't a runner.  And then one day I went for a run.  Something changed.  I'm hoping for the same kind of deal with this: that I can go back to school and immerse myself in it the way I couldn't at 18.  So much life has happened and I know so much more about myself now.  I know so much more about what I want.

I have so much more to say.

I'm completely overwhelmed by all the information there is to sort through as I even start to think about applying.  I need 15-40 (depending on the school) pages of my writing that I can submit as a sample.  I have to make such life (and path) altering decisions as: fiction or nonfiction?  This stuff is heavy.  I have to ask people to write letters for me.  I have to request transcripts.  I feel like I'm eighteen again.

I'm trying not to do the thing where I feel like there's so much to do so I just put on my jammies and fall into my couch in a state of overwhelmed paralysis.  It has been a while since I applied for anything.  There's a lot to go through.

But I made a chart.  I talked to E about wanting to do this.  I'm researching my patootie off.  I'm taking steps... forward.

Good times, Internet.  Good times.  More to follow, I'm sure.

1 comment:

  1. Good for you! I understand the freezing when you become overwhelmed, I'm the same way, but you definitely have the right attitude! I'm looking forward to seeing how this turns out for you.