Thursday, October 27, 2011

Are all MFA in Writing Programs the Same? Catherine Brady Sells the Finer Points at USF

Choosing the right M.F.A. in writing program depends on a variety of criteria--location, cost, even prestige. But there's probably nothing more important than the program structure and quality of instruction. My program at University of San Francisco has, according to "The Little Program That Could" article in the school's newspaper, "emerged as a top destination":
Over the last 10 years, applications have more than doubled as its faculty and graduates have reeled in domestic and international awards. As the economy sputters, applications for creative writing programs nationally have surged by as much as 50 percent. USF’s MFA program received the most applications ever in the last three years. The current class of 45 is among the largest in the program’s history.
With a 25-page submission due next week, I'll have completed 200 pages of the first draft toward my final project--a thesis manuscript of personal essays centered around themes of family and home. I'd like to think I could have done it on my own, which of course will be the aim post-graduation, but honestly it's the deadlines that keep me moving toward my goal.

Hearing instructor and peer feedback and questions on each piece, as well as receiving their written responses and comments in the margins of each manuscript, has proven immeasurable. Not all of the comments are useful, of course. On occasion, someone misses the mark. But for the most part they serve as generous guideposts in revision. And we all know revising is where the heart of the work lies. (That'll come this summer, working one on one with an adviser toward its completion.)

Soon it'll be time to sign up for my final semester. I'm gearing up to make a leap into short fiction--and I'm scared! I know I need to push the parameters of my craft into a new genre; I have the sense that some of the stories I want to tell are better served by fiction. Or, at least, applying fictional techniques like scene-building with characterization and dialogue will make my nonfiction stronger.

I'll also take Teaching Creative Writing, a rigorous practicum taught by current program director Catherine Brady. To learn more, check out this 2-minute video where Brady and others discuss the finer points of the program:

1 comment:

rosaria said...

It's good to know that your hard work, your time, your money, are well spent.

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