Low Residency MFA Programs

Goldsworthy by Tim CarlI am in the middle of my second draft of my first novel. The first draft was relatively straight forward — I had a beginning a middle and an end. Aristotle would be proud!

I had given a few sections of the novel to my friends and family and the feedback was mostly positive. One of my writer friends encourage me to send it to an agent. “Tim, I think this is good,” she said. I did too. I mean the story had a plot, decent dialog and even some momentum.

But then I let a successful novelist read it. “I really like the way you write about place,” she said at our first meeting. I was on the edge of my seat. I pictured making a few word edits here and there, but that it would be ready to send to an agent, soon. I waited for her to thrust her thumbs into the air and then slap the table, “You are the first author I’ve ever met who wrote their first novel in one draft!” I imagined her saying.

Instead she said, “Have you ever thought about a low-residency MFA program?”

“You mean after I publish my first novel?” I asked.

She looked at me, her smile a mixture of humor and pity. “No,” she said and paused a beat. “I was thinking more like now.”

Deflated? Yes. Humbled? Yes. Curious? Yes.

Like many writers I’ve had a few different careers. I have degrees and a bunch of water under my bridge. And as an aspiring, aged writer I am lacking a few things: dark luscious hair; disposable income; any desire to live in communal living courters.

So maybe an MFA program that I don’t need to live at year round makes sense? I mean the one at NYU “forces” it students to live in Paris for a couple weeks each year.

I’m still looking into these programs and will report what I find. In the meantime I’ve found out that a few of these programs provide interesting resources that are downloadable. One of them the downloadable content at Warren Wilson College. You can explore their extensive catalog HERE. My “novel coach” suggested that I listen to “BAXTER, CHARLES: Narrative Urgency (July 2010)” and “BOSWELL, ROBERT: On Characters and Characterization (January 2012).”

And after listening to these lectures I can honestly say that… Version #2 of my novel will be even better!

Wishing you productive days of writing.

About MWycombe

Webmaster for Napa Valley Writers
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