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July 1, 2012 / Angela Sylvia

MFA Semester 4 – Days 8 and 9

The last couple days are always hard for me to get written up on time. That’s when the exhaustion starts to really grip at me, and also scrabbling to spend every minute with the people I’m going to miss. (It also doesn’t help that Lesley turned off the internet.)

Anyway…

Friday began again with more graduating student seminars. I went to Alissa Butterworth’s about absent characters (characters who aren’t present due to death, divorce, simply not being around, who are silent, etc.) and the techniques you can use to make them just as vivid. Afterword I went to Elizabeth Gitten’s on writing a synopsis for your story. This was something I actually did have confused, and it’s good to see how it’s supposed to be done, in the case that I’m ever called on to do it.

We had finished our small group workshop, so I had the afternoon free. Part of it was used very wisely to go out with Tony Abbott and some other students before the graduate student readings began. These went on both before and after dinner, and they were so fantastic. One of the plays had men crying… (so unfair, something that sad when I’m that tired.) Later I hung out with some friends, including someone who is graduating. I kept making myself stay up, but eventually I went to bed…

…and woke up to start the next day. I woke up early to pack the car, and Rachel and I got breakfast elsewhere since they don’t serve real breakfast on the weekends. Then we had to go to our thesis meeting with Steven Cramer, where he tried to clarify just what, exactly, is expected of us. We were also told when we had to file our intent to graduate, which I was thankful for since the auto-emails from Lesley kept scaring the crap out of me. We nominated our graduating speakers, and while nothing’s official it’s looking like it will be Jodi for the students. I made sure to nominate Tony for our faculty speaker, but we’ll see what happens when people actually vote.

Then, more graduating seminars: Brenda Bickham had one on secondary characters, something I’ve had a few problems with in the past. Then I went to Cate Johnson’s seminar on how to write a teenage voice. We went over what’s involved in a teenage voice, and examined how some author’s pull it off. We then did a writing exercise with it, which I really liked.

After lunch I went to the first foot forward agent session, where we read a page of our manuscript. I had read to this same woman last time (there was no new person to pick from) and I was thrilled to find out she recognized my story when I read it. It was great to get some real pinpointed advice on the page, and I can already see how I can fix most of those problems. There was plenty of extra time, so we were able to ask her questions about the industry and the author/agent relationship — like, for example, it doesn’t actually matter how close you live to your agent since almost everything takes place over the phone.

The final graduate readings happened after that (there were a lot of students graduating this time) and once again, there was some amazing stuff. I chose to leave after that, before graduation, and somehow managed to find almost all the friends and mentors I wanted to say goodbye to, including the elusive David Elliott. Now I’m home, and I’m tired, and nervous, and I miss everyone there so much, but I’m ready to get started.

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