Forum / grad school for aspiring authors... yay or nay?

  • 3276_178324980544_535200544_6592071_5820087_n.thumb
    Kelli Trapnell
    Mar 27, 07:04am

    I am currently a junior in college studying creative writing, and I am planning to apply to several grad schools for the same thing. My thoughts are that I would be working on a novel or collection of short stories anyway, and I have always been the kind of person who loves to learn, so why not do both?

    Recently, however, I've been having some doubts. Any thoughts or recommendations as to specific programs would be much appreciated.

    If it helps you answer, I am an aspiring author, and currently my interest is YA fiction, though I love all genres (except nonfiction, sorry!)

  • 000_0969.thumb
    H-M Brown
    Mar 27, 09:33am


    The golden rule to writing:

    Write, Write, and Write.


    Write again.

    Though I don't what your doubts are that you're talking about, what I do know is this; Each of us authors walk a different route in the art of writing. Anything we say to you that we think is the right path for you, is really our own subjective opinion. My advice to you, is to take the programs you feel is right, for you. But don't forget the golden rule to writing.

    Hope this helps. :)

  • Author_wide.thumb
    Jürgen Fauth
    Mar 27, 04:55pm

    check out this series of posts (& discussion) by Alex Chee:

  • 3276_178324980544_535200544_6592071_5820087_n.thumb
    Kelli Trapnell
    Mar 28, 07:20am

    thank you both for your help! much appreciated.
    also, don't worry. I fully intend to write as long as I have fingers to do so.

  • Me_011.thumb
    Jennifer L. Lopez
    Mar 28, 07:38pm

    a girl i went to college with got her MFA in poetry from Arizona, which is supposed to be a very good program. if you love the school side of things, why not go for it? i'd love to go back to school for creative writing. i went for something else the first time around and i'm not sure i can really afford to go back just now lol.

  • Image247.thumb
    Robert Nagle
    Mar 29, 04:08pm


    Don't dismiss nonfiction! (It will come in handy when you least expect it!)

    There is NO shame in not going to a writing program. Repeat that over and over to yourself.

    By the way, writing programs are ridiculously competitive. You'd think it was American Idol. If you go to writing programs, you need to face the fact that you may in fact be rejected by most (if not all) of the programs you apply to. (This is not really a statement about the quality of your writing).

    To summarize my feelings: I'm glad I got a master's very early because it gave me a more accurate idea of what the literary market was like. The bad thing was that it worsened my finances and career prospects (even though I got a full fellowship from a prestigious university).

    I tend to think there is more value in joining a writers' group in your city (if that is possible). The in-person contact is important.

    Failing that, I'd recommend taking 1 (and only 1) writing class per semester or paying the $1000 to go to a multiday writer's conference. Even if your classmates are less serious about writing, the feedback will do you good.

    The problem with going to grad school fulltime is that the ability to write fulltime is an artificial situation. You need to get used to the idea of writing in your spare time. .

    Here are two articles I wrote about the topic

    I summarized:

    It didn’t really open doors for me in academia, although ironically it opened doors for international teaching. I think one of my fellow grad students is teaching at a university (a fairly good one, btw). It didn’t really happen as a result of her literary success but her savvy networking skills. Having a master’s degree did have some marketability for technical writing (although having a master’s is quickly becoming the norm now).

    I was lucky because I went to grad school straight after undergrad. Much less personal disruption. At 21 my writing style was weak and flabby. My imagination (and literary experiments) were original, though my experience base was limited. Going through the workshop improved my editing skills and taught the value of taking your time when revising. None of the stories I wrote during my stay were particularly remarkable, though the stories I wrote immediately afterwards (IMHO!) were.

    A writing degree gave me more realistic expectations about what constituted literary success. It also exposed me to the fact that writer/artist types have titan egos, and guess what–so do I. Writing workshops gave good experience about dealing with such types (and helped me to realize why others sometimes find ME annoying and stubborn). It also made me see how widely literary types differ. Your own personal background might strike you as prosaic, but it’s actually quite different from people your age. What you view as ordinary others might regard as quirky. People sometimes complain about the cookie-cutter nature of workshop fiction, but that is a lie; once you are around other writers with similar talent, you see how distinctive (and messy) each person’s rough drafts can be.

  • 3276_178324980544_535200544_6592071_5820087_n.thumb
    Kelli Trapnell
    Apr 04, 04:31pm


    Thank you so much for the in-depth reply! It helps a lot.

    Ironically, a few days after I posted this forum, I decided it would be fun to take a class on creative nonfiction next semester, so that I can see what it's all about.

    I am currently only planning to attend grad school if I can get most (if not all) of the tuition paid for. I realize that grad school is very expensive, and you do make a good point about around the clock fiction writing--sadly, I need to realize that getting to write all the time is not a realistic situation.

    Thank you for confirming my suspicions about acceptance--my advisors seem to think that getting in will be a breeze. Somehow, when the programs I am looking at only take 6 or 7 applicants a year, that type of nonchalance seems a little egotistical. Oh well, at least my advisors are optimistic anyway.

    I am intrigued by your comment about multiday writing conferences. So they are really helpful? I have always been slightly wary of conferences, but maybe I should give them a try eventually.

  • Linda.thumb
    Linda Simoni-Wastila
    Apr 04, 09:23pm

    Been lurking on this thread and reading everyone's comments with tremendous interest. As someone with many degrees but nary a one in writing (or any humanity, for that matter), the idea of indulging in two years of writing, writing, reading, and writing is seductive. Though a pipe dream: I would have to do the low-rez approach, or some other part-time alternative -- I be the bread-and-butter of my household.

    I can speak to the multi-day conferences; choose wisely, and they can reward. I've attended Grub Street's Muse and the Marketplace (coming up May 1-2 in Boston), which is unique in that it blends craft and marketing very well. Excellent faculty, great networking, plus the chance for a manuscript consult with an agent or editor.

    I've also attended a five-day workshop for the dual purposes of getting a sense of the workshop process, as well as to check out that program's low-rez program. It was well worth the moolah.

    I'm happy to chat more about my conference experiences. peace, Linda

  • You must log in to reply to this thread.