“There’s just so much about writing in that genre that informs and improves prose.” Her favorite part of each residency was the student readings, held in the mirrored dining room of the inn in which the MFA classes took place.
“If you were the reader,” she explains, “it was the best audience anywhere. She advises potential MFA students to be very clear about what they want out of a particular program.
“It’s very different to go from a newsroom to a classroom,” he says. Rather than being in a constant, frantic deadline, you have to really close down on your writing.” He’s devoting his time in the MFA program to working on a book-length piece of narrative nonfiction about a story he’d come across decades before – a drama involving shifting roles and power dynamics in a Southern family.
“It’s a remarkable story, like something in Flannery O’Connor’s territory,” he says.
“I’ve got three children, two of them through college.
It sets a good example for them to see their dad changing up his life and doing something new.” Shavin chose the University of Georgia because he’d been an adjunct instructor in the journalism school there and wanted the flexibility of the low-residency program.“He was in the MFA to heighten his writing skills, but there wasn’t a social gathering Bill missed.” She tells MFA students to attend all public readings and get to know classmates at social events. “The low-res MFA, no matter your age, is what you make of it.So get out there and mingle with agents and editors, grab a drink with mentors and peers, and enjoy the immersive experience.” Iris Graville immersed herself in memoir and in building lifelong friendships with classmates during her years in the low-residency MFA program in creative writing through the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts (NILA) on Whidbey Island, Washington.Program graduates have been successful in publishing their work and obtaining and advancing their careers as both writers and teachers of writing and literature, agents, managers, production managers, designers, sales representatives, writers, teachers, and marketing directors.In 2016, Anna Arnett of Chandler, Arizona, graduated with her Master of Arts degree in creative writing. Those who believe graduate school is reserved for people in their 20s should visit any Master of Fine Arts classroom across the country.“You have a great opportunity to gain so much from people with different perspectives.” Mark Shavin spent over 35 years as a journalist, mostly in TV newsrooms.He was 59 when he enrolled in the low-residency MFA program in narrative nonfiction at the University of Georgia.This may not seem like news; after all, thousands of students graduate with an advanced degree in the subject every year. The ages of students span decades – sometimes five or six decades. She also teaches in the creative nonfiction program at the University of King’s College-Halifax.As adults consider mid-career changes and continue working long past what used to be considered retirement age, MA and MFA programs receive enrollment applications from parents with grown children and from grandparents, as well. She explains that the low-residency model – which requires travel to campus for about 10 days twice a year – offers students the ability to stay in their current city and in their current job – perfect for those who need an independent academic schedule.He had no interest in retiring but no longer wanted to work in television. His original passion had been books and writing, and he’d always wanted to earn an MFA degree.“I’m basically just investing in myself right now,” he explains.