Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Little Overwhelmed...

Well, I got my residency schedule, and it is 10 days of BUSY!  It's all very exciting, and I really can't wait, but, boy, am I going to be exhausted by the time I get home!  In addition to the faculty lectures, and graduate lectures, and readings, and workshops, there are also receptions, cocktail parties, karaoke, dance/games night, and just general parties!  One of the biggest benefits of doing a program like the one at Vermont College is the networking.  Making friends and acquaintances that can help you, either emotionally or at a career-level; people who are in a similar situation as you.
Some of the authors I'll be meeting and learning from are:
Kathi Appelt (author of The Underneath-a strong competitor for the Newbery this year)
Norma Fox Mazer
MT Anderson
Tim Wynne-Jones
Rita Williams-Garcia
Sharon Darrow
Martine Leavitt
(and I found out that Cynthia Letiech-Smith will be returning in January!)
And these are only a few of the talented writers I'll be working with!

Amazing, right?
I'll be posting one more time before I leave, and then I'll try to post each night to keep you up with my experiences in Vermont.
Hopefully this will be helpful to anyone considering attending a low-rez program.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Low-Residency MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts

Wow, that's a long title!  I said last time that I would describe the program to you, so here it is.  I am describing the program at Vermont College, but there are many wonderful programs (though I think VC is the best) that are run in a similar way.  Here are the main points:
It's a 2 year program-with a 10-day residency in January, and another in July.
So you go to the school for 10 days twice a year for 2 years and go to lectures and seminars given by active, published authors.   You also have your writing workshopped while there (I'll talk about that more in a minute.)
You are matched up with a faculty member advisor for that semester.  After the residency you are expected to send in a packet of work once a month (the number of new pages and revised pages is pre-determined with your advisor).  This is the best part, to me.  In many writing classes, you are given assignments.  Here you get to work on your own chosen writing.  And, you're encouraged to explore different styles and genres in a safe environment with an advisor who won't hesitate to tell you something stinks (in the nicest possible way).

Back to the workshop.  About 2 months prior to the residency you send 20 pages of your work to the school.  They group the students in heterogenous groups-newbies and graduating students and everything in between, as well as picture books and middle grade and young adult pieces.  The school binds the pages together and sends them to each student a few weeks before the residency.  Each student reads and critiques the works in their binder (there are about 12 people in each group, plus 2 faculty members-you only have to read the pages from your group).  Then at the residency your work is the focus of a one-hour workshop, with feedback from the other 11 students + the faculty in your group.  Sounds awesome, right?

So that's where I'm at right now.  I've received and begun to read my workshop binder, making notes on each page.  I'm feeling a little nervous at this point about everyone else reading my story.  I mean, I love my book, but I don't know if anyone else will!  And the other work in the binder is soooooo good!  

I'm really excited to get started with this, because I know I have so much to learn.  Hopefully my honest insights on other people's work will be helpful too.

I leave mid-day on July 7th.  I CAN'T WAIT!!!