Diana Pharaoh Francis | Diana P. Francis | Diana Francis


Saturday, July 12th, 2014
getting squared away

I am here in Colorado and working on getting settled into my new position. I have to say, I didn’t fully understand the curriculum here for the MFA in genre writing, but I after learning more, I think it’s the best structure out there for getting people to publishable status. That is, going over the skills and getting the business information you need to get there. Here’s why. First, the first year is devoted to learning a lot of the basics of craft, and also learning a lot about various genres. It’s strictly commercial genres. So no matter what, you’ll get a sense of horror, spec fic in all its forms, fantasy in all its forms, romance in all its forms, and likewise with westerns. You do a lot of writing and reading and a lot of feedback from working writers. Then the second year gives you more intense drilling down and also some pedagogy on teaching, should you decide to go that route (both creative writing and freshman comp, since those are the two most likely for teachers), and planning for what you will do when you graduate. You also do an out of concentration course in poetry, screenwriting, or non-fiction. All the staff in all the classes are working, publishing, directing, filming, writing and etc, in their fields. Then you also participate in summer residencies with more concentrated courses, and the Writing the Rockies conference which each year brings in really good talent (open to the public if anyone wants to check it out). In your second year, you also write a thesis.

Unlike other programs, instead of working with a different mentor each semester, you take two six credit online courses with other students and there is workshopping and regular course assignments. That means the curriculum is more standard for everyone, and the department can make sure the standards are being met across the board. It means you also end up with working closely with all the faculty fiction faculty, which is really good.

Does this mean you’ll be able to publish your novel when you get out? Hard to say, the market being what it is. But many of the students begin publishing in their first year with the writing that comes out of the courses. I know a lot of people and writers especially wonder about the efficacy of MFA programs, but this one is completely and totally devoted to getting published. If you’re thinking on one, definitely check it out.

In other news, I’m sitting here in my dorm room working on the next novel and bashing my head on my desk to help shake out any plot ideas that might come from a concussion. Drinking might be a better idea. Sadly, I’m at 7500 feet, and that means that alcohol will go to my head super super fast, and also, walking not far makes my head spin. Hopefully I settle down soon. Usually it takes a couple of weeks for people to develop more red blood cells to cope with altitude, which will be just about the same time I go home. Rawr.

Boy of size continues to be sick. Hopefully when we get back the OHSU appointment will get him on the road to wellness. I sure as hell hope so.

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