My second packet is now with Uma, my advisor.
This pause time is always brief, but allows me to step away from my current stories. That is an important step because in a few days when I look at those stories again I will see them without the blurred vision that comes from working with a story so closely.
I write other stories while I wait. I am working on a couple new stories, plus I opened an old file and started revising a novel. I want to see if I could work on both picture book manuscripts and a young adult story at the same time. It is a good experiment to do for a few days.
The semester is fast paced. I am in a special picture book semester where I learn the craft of writing picture books. I'll turn in a lot of picture books (eight so far), revise some of these books (turned in four revisions so far), write several essays which focus on writing craft, and read many, many picture books and a few craft books. In addition, I'll prepare and give a presentation as part of the picture book panel during residency.
The online workshop with the other picture book students and Uma is incredible. It is a continuation of the residency workshop. That is the aspect that makes this special semester unique. We each turn in a picture book once a month (5 total in the semester) comment on each book, revise, then post our story again for additional comments.
I get asked a lot of questions about Vermont College of Fine Arts. I love to talk about Vermont College and what an incredible experience it is. Great information is available on a Wikipedia page and on Vermont College's website. Recently Cynthia Leitich Smith interviewed Sharon Darrow, the faculty chair, on Cynsations.
The Vermont College experience is incredible. The culture is wonderful. All involved--other students, faculty, administration--are committed to children's literature. I have made life-long friends. Residency is intense and amazing. The semester, the packets, and the one on one interaction with my advisor are stimulating and pushes my writing far beyond what I could have ever achieved on my own. It is exciting to see my writing stretch and grow and evolve each month.
I've been asked if my MFA is worth it.
Besides marrying my awesome husband and having great kids, it is the best thing I've done for myself.