Ever wonder what it’s like to study creative writing in college? What does one do/learn in such a program? Now you can find out.
Today, I would like to begin a series of articles describing my experience in an MFA program in creative writing–especially sharing what I learn along the way. In this particular article, I will share a little about the program.
In June of this year (2021) I officially began work as a student at Western Colorado University. I am studying in their “Genre Fiction” program. They have other programs as well, including: Nature Writing, Poetry, Publishing, and Screenwriting for Film and Television. The Genre Fiction program is designed to teach students how to write in various genres (e.g. Westerns, Romance, Science Fiction, Fantasy, etc.). Plus, it’s mostly online.
In the GPCW (Graduate Program in Creative Writing) – Genre Fiction – one can pursue either a Master of Fine Arts or a Master of Arts in Creative Writing. The MFA program begins with an in-person summer residency in July (which essentially consists of taking two classes). This year, due to COVID and high admission rates, the residency consists of one week of in-person classes, followed by one week of virtual classes (next year they hope to resume the two week in-person residency).
After the residency, the school year continues online during the Fall and Spring semesters. Overall, there will be two full school years, plus three summer residencies (one before each school year, and one at the end of the program). You can learn more about WCU’s creative writing programs here: https://western.edu/program/graduate-program-creative-writing/
This year, to prepare for the residency, my assignments include 1) sending my professors an email about which genre is my favorite to read and which is my favorite to write in, and 2) reading three different books, namely:
- Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
- On Writing by Steven King
- Eragon by Christopher Paolini (This book is technically not on the syllabus; however, I am to read my favorite genre fiction book.)
Reading these books has been my homework so far. The residency, which begins in July, will include various lessons, writing exercises, workshops, and talks by guest speakers, etc. I’ll try to give you more insights into the program as it progresses, sharing with you what I’ve learned along the way.