MFA Hiatus

Aug 14, 2015

It’s been two years since my last blog post, yet it seems like a lifetime.

When I first set up my website I had every intention of regularly posting my observations on the writing life and anything else that popped into my age-addled consciousness. But then I was accepted into an MFA program…

I only applied to three programs—two low-residency, one full-time—and experienced a flash of panic when my wife told me the director of the MFA in Writing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts ( was on the phone. But it was great news! And, really, they wouldn’t call to say you were rejected.

So that’s what I’ve been doing these past two years: grinding away with my MFA studies and writing. I probably would’ve never considered VCFA if not for the recommendation of Robert Boswell ( during his workshop at the 2012 Taos Writers’ Conference. I didn’t know much about low-residency writing programs, but Bos assured me that if one wasn’t planning on a teaching career a low-res program was the way to go, and, in fact, you’d accomplish more writing than in a full-time program while still experiencing an extraordinary variety of critical lectures and assignments. He recommended Warren Wilson College in North Carolina and VCFA (and he even wrote my recommendations!).

The VCFA MFA program required attendance at 10-day residencies (in Montpelier, Vermont) twice a year, five residencies total including your graduation residency (probably the most intense and stressful of them all!). During the residency you attend an assigned workshop and at least the required minimum of lectures and visiting writer readings or discussions—but there are dozens of lectures and readings scheduled (and you can’t attend them all!). Each residency is a non-stop dizzying experience, resulting in complete exhaustion, after which you work one-on-one by mail, email & phone with your assigned writer/instructor. For each of the subsequent five months you send your instructor a “packet” of new or revised work (25 – 30 pages), as well as shorter critical essays as assigned. It’s a lot of work and I’m amazed that so many of my talented classmates were able to meet the requirements while holding full-time jobs, some even while managing small children!

And that raises the other extraordinary aspect of the VCFA experience: over the two years you spend only 50 days with your classmates, but they are among the most intense imaginable and the friendships and bonds that result are indeed powerful. Suffice it to say that I remain in awe of the talent and diversity of my classmates; I truly believe that many of them will create and publish popular and enduring works of art.

So, all of that is to say why I’ve avoided my blog.

But I DID graduate:

And now I’m ready to share once again.

Of course, at least for me, nothing is so simple…


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