It was not so long ago that I was one of you, sweating the math section of the GRE, trying to figure out the perfect submission length (22.25 pages? If only there had been one professor from a respected MFA program to tell me exactly what they were looking for, it would have been so much easier. Be honest, but “We’re dating and getting serious” honest rather than either “First date honest” or “Now that you’ve proposed, here’s all the stuff you need to know about me (like the fact that I killed my first wife)” honest. There’s no reason, no matter what your job or your circumstances, that you shouldn’t be reading an interesting book every week or two, and that’ll do a great deal for your development as a writer and as a person.
There is: If you’re applying now, or in the future, this is for you. You can and should talk about your struggles and successes and trials and etc., but in moderation. In the personal statement, write about yourself in a way that allows us to get a real sense of you and the way you are now, right now, and where you’re going. It’s okay to let us know what books led you to writing, but better if we find out what books you continue to go back to and who you’re interested in now. Don’t pretend to have read something that you haven’t read.
She suggested colleges that were appealing and ensured that I was able to complete all of the applications in a timely manner.
I cannot think of anyone better to have guided me through this very important time of my life!
Brian Evenson, whose books include “Fugue State” and “The Open Curtain,” is a professor of literary arts at Brown. This really, really matters to me, more than anything else. Most of you don’t, and those of you who do don’t do it maliciously, but just kind of slowly convince yourself into it as you write and rewrite your application. If you feel you have to go back to childhood to do that, that’s okay, but if I go away with a better sense of how you were when you were in 2nd grade (or whatever) than how you are now, that’s not good. Read interesting things and learn how to talk about them in interesting ways. Don’t google the faculty at a program and then try to include a line in your personal statement that suggests what their book is about.
He has recently been posting on Facebook while reviewing students’ creative writing MFA applications. If I love a piece of writing, I will fight for it, and am willing to overlook a multitude of other sins. Better to turn in one shorter excellent piece than a good piece and one bad one. And if you’re finding yourself trying to cram all sorts of things into the page limit by changing the font and single-spacing, then step back and take a deep breath and think again. This rarely works, and as a result usually does more harm than good. We’re interested in knowing what makes you unique, but within reason.
After getting to the end of them, he put together this definitive 11-point list, Advice for Future MFA Applicants. And even if you have a great set of experiences and are incredibly interesting and we’d love to have an 8-hour long coffee with you to learn about your experiences running Substance D.
“Please feel free to steal, revise, mutilate, or dispute,” he writes. from the American camp to the Norwegian camp in Antarctica, if your writing sample isn’t good enough you won’t get in.
I could connect more with what I was writing because I knew I was being mentored by one of the best. Brown was enormously helpful throughout the college application process.
She was always ready with editing advice and essay tips that helped me make myself more attractive to the admissions board.